More than 30 years after the American Children's Television Workshop began airing its widely popular children educational and entertainment program in the US, the program has made its way to Palestine and Egypt in Arabic, called "Alam Simsim".
Last month, Sesame Street Egypt finally got its own version. "Alam Simsim" was launched through the efforts of President Mubarak's wife, Susan, and Steven Miller, vice-president of CTW International.
Miller stated that the goal of the program is "to provide an adaptation reflective of social and cultural norms in the host country. In the case of Egypt, it's a country with such a rich history and culture. We wanted to make sure that Alam Simsim reflects that aptly," and to help ensure that would happen, the program was developed in close consultation with educational advisors, child psychologists and experts from the ministries of education, environment and information to make it sensitive to cultural nuances.
Three Muppets were created specially for the Egyptian children: Khokha, Filfil and Nimnim. These cute Muppets have been carefully designed to bring out their special personalities: One is a four-year-old little girl eager to learn; the second is simply charming and the youngest of the bunch is the gentle type. The program's set shows an ordinary Egyptian town and its population. Through these colorful and joyful programs the audience can learn manners, basic skills and the value of friendship by fun and laughter.
The new Palestinian production, which has recently been launched as well, has added a most significant dimension: Puppets for Peace!
For more than 30 years the American Children's Television Workshop has been providing some of the most wonderful television programs targeted at children and their parents. Educators, psychologists, artists, musicians and other expertise have been cooperating all these years for the mere goal of educating, and entertaining children all over the world (now in over 140 countries worldwide, including 19 indigenous coproductions in which local cultural differences are implemented).
These children are not only being entertained by their favorite friends (Big Bird, Cookie Monster, The Count, Ernie and Burt) but they also absorb many basic skills such as the knowledge of numbers, letters, family values and the love for each other. One child told the writer of this article when asked about a certain fancy word he had used: "I learnt it in `Elementary School,' he said, referring to the television program "Sesame Street".
Having viewed the new segments and observing the little giggly children so fascinated by those lovable characters and the marvelous entertainment they provide, our suggestion to all of you out there is - just sit down, relax, enjoy the show and join us in singing:
"Sunny days, sweepin the clouds away, on thy way to where the air is sweet"....
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)