Birds: An Amal Poem by Sarah Hunaidi

SEP 7, 2023

Little Amal looks over a crowd to three bird puppets flying towards her.

In advance of Amal’s arrival to Boston, A.R.T. offered a series of intergenerational workshops designed to foster community dialogue about the refugee crisis and what it means to welcome Amal to Harvard’s campus.

Guided by Project Director Brisa Areli Muñoz, A.R.T. teaching artists led these workshops at locations including the Harvard Ed Portal, the Boston Public Library, the Immigrant Learning Center, and the Malden Public Library with community members of all different backgrounds and connections to Amal. Some were learning about her story for the first time, while others were refugees themselves who could relate directly to Amal’s journey.

The cast for the event on September 7 includes participants from these workshops, as well as the collaboration of many students from Harvard, Berklee, and MIT. The performance also includes the following poem, written by Creative Advisor and Performer Sarah Hunaidi.


When we were kids in Syria, I told you that birds head south when the chill sets in, but you said, “birds don’t discern South from North! They never sat in school learning the four cardinal directions in third grade.” And Amal, you were right. All they understand, all they feel, is the pull of warmth.

Birds don’t migrate out of dissatisfaction with their current place; they leave because they can’t brave the winter’s chill, because their delicate bodies aren’t built for the biting breezes of dawn. Though tied to their nests, they have faith in their ability to craft a home elsewhere—somewhere warm.

Birds form attachments to their home, much like you and I. We too became deeply rooted, only to later be uprooted. We dreamt of a home where warmth wouldn’t scorch our hopes. We dreamt and cried out for freedom. With nothing but dreams as our armor, we took to the streets.

Our government, in a cruel twist, went on a hunt—a hunt for dreams. Other nations sealed off the sky, trapped us with our monster. When our wings were shattered, we tried to swim, but the waves proved too treacherous.

Pleas for aid were met with indifference. The world, in its frenzied state, is decimating our planet, dear little sister, much like it snuffed out our lives. In these moments of fleeing, we ponder the cruel irony of our human bodies. So fragile.

But clarity dawns, as we learn that we aren’t imprisoned; we too are birds, Amal. When I whisper to you, my dear sister, that we are akin to birds, my heart dances in joyous rhythm. For freedom brings joy like no other.

“Birds don’t doubt their journeys,” I murmur to you as we face snowstorms and raging seas. You and I, my brave sister, we persist.

Poem by Sarah Hunaidi (Creative Advisor & Performer for Little Amal: Finding Friends in Harvard Yard)

Photo: Little Amal in Manchester, England. © The Walk Productions

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