Alef, b… is incorporated in France and operates under a non-profit status Association loi 1901. Our management is done on a total volunteering basis; however, we charge a fee to cover our expenses such as teachers’ wages, insurance, rent, school supplies, office expenses, and furniture. As of 2007, the board of directors in France is composed of Joelle Toutounji-Wolff, Michèle Bou Abboud, Marie de Bremond d’Ars and Michelle El-Khoury Tager.
Alef,b… multicultural center for children is also incorporated in the state of Virginia as a non-profit 501c 3 entity and is licensed to do business in the states of Maryland and California. As of 2007, the board of directors in the USA is composed of Vicky Berberi-Doumar, Nada Gaspard, Katherine Hopps-Telhami, Laura Raney and Michelle El-Khoury Tager.
Alef, b… was founded in Paris-France on July 16, 1994 by Michelle El-Khoury Tager, Dima Salam-Daouk, Marie de Bremond d’Ars and Suzanne Haddad.
Our common concern as mothers and professionals was to preserve our unique cultural and language heritage. The way to achieve that was to transfer this to our children as well as to all children of Arabic descent living abroad. We also strived to reach out to all the children regardless of their origin, disseminating one of the most advanced culture and a language used by more than 10% of the world population. The teachers soon joined us and in particular, Rola EL-Homsi, who is an early education specialist, graduated from Lebanon.
Rola and Michelle put together a specific curriculum, custom designed for teaching Arabic as a foreign language to children age 3 to 12 years old. Finally, on the first Saturday in October 1996, the first Alef,b… workshop was held with 30 children divided in 4 groups at 32, rue de la source, Paris 75016. A fun place for kids to learn the Arabic language and culture was created. As of today, it has benefited more than 10,000 children.
Besides our regular workshop activity, Alef, b… has been involved in several projects such as:
- Designing and implementing a special workshop for the IMA (Institut du Monde Arabe) in Paris.
- Writing and publishing of a picture book on Lebanon called “Yasmine, Karim and Sam in the Enchanted book of Lebanon.” The book was sold by SEAL, a New York based non-profit organization for Lebanon, for fundraising purposes.
Alef, b… is always looking into opportunities to serve its purpose. If you have an idea or a project, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be delighted to help you fulfill your goal to educate children in the Arabic language and culture in a playful way.
Testimonials from our educators and volunteers
Rola El Homsi
I am proud to have been associated with the creation of Alef,b… I was and still am driven by my desire to create an identity for the Arab children born abroad. My background as an early education specialist, graduated from the Lebanese University, was of great help to me. When I see the children at Alef, b…, so happy to learn about their origins and so proud to show their knowledge of the Arabic language, I am fulfilled. I have been teaching at Alef, b… since its inception in 1996! It is still as exciting and challenging and I really feel we make a difference in those children’s life.
I work with Alef,b… as an educator and consultant. I have a bachelor degree in Special Education (Saint Joseph University -Lebanon) and a Master in Sciences of Education (Sorbonne University – Paris). The way we are teaching our kids is extremely captivating, through games, songs, plays and stories. They learn how to speak, read, and write Arabic as a second language. Not only we teach Arabic as a language but we also emphasize on our cultural values as we expose them to the customs and traditions of the region.
Dominique (mother and volunteer with Alef, b… in Washington D.C.)
I like volunteering for Alef, b… I help the teacher and I get to know better how to speak Arabic since I left Lebanon 25 years ago. I also help create some educational arts and crafts. It is fun and I ask my children to help with it at home. That’s how I keep them busy with Arabic during the week too! They did improve a lot and, so did I.
Testimonials from our students
Raya (10 years old, 4th level at Alef, b… Washington D.C.)
I learned how to write and read in one year only at Alef,b… I was 8 years old, I was so proud! Now it’s harder, I don’t like going every Saturday but once I am there I don’t want to leave…
Marc (5 years old, 2nd level at Alef, b…Courbevoie, France)
My mother takes me every Saturday, I meet new friends, we do projects. I like singing in Arabic.