American Music Comes to the Halls of the UNRWA Qattaneh Basic Girls School in the West Bank

30 June 2017
The Exchange perform to a full audience at the Qattaneh Girls School in the West Bank. Their tour was organized as part of an annual United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ American Music Abroad programme. © 2017 UNRWA  Photo by Riham Jafary

“It is an incredible opportunity to sing for these children. I think it will be something they will never forget and we will never forget either,” says Alfredo Austin, a member of the band ‘The Exchange’. “These opportunities are once in a lifetime and we are just so grateful to be here sharing these moments.”

On 4th of May, hundreds of girls from the UNRWA Qattaneh Basic Girls School near Ramallah enjoyed a concert of American music performed by The Exchange. Clapping and dancing along to the songs in their school hall, the students and their teachers had the opportunity to listen to the band’s different musical styles and be exposed to new genres of American music. 

The show was made possible through a partnership between UNRWA and the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, as part of the Bureau’s American Music Abroad (AMA) programme. The event, which was done in coordination with the Consulate-General of the United States in East Jerusalem, complements other extracurricular activities implemented in UNRWA schools. 

As an AMA artist, The Exchange represents a new generation of musical ambassadors reaching beyond concert halls to interact with other musicians and citizens from around the globe. Through the AMA programme, each year, approximately nine ensembles, like The Exchange, embark on a month-long multi-country tour, where they engage with international audiences through public concerts. 

“The performance was very entertaining, and it gives us the opportunity to overcome our stresses,” says Sadeen al-Faqeeh, a 12-year-old student from Qattaneh. She adds that the concert was a memorable experience that she greatly enjoyed. Her schoolmate, 14-year-old Malak Salah, adds, “It is an interesting activity since it gives us the opportunity to learn about other cultures. It is entertainment that aims to improve the academic level and social life of students.”