I do not state by the title of my blog that I represent all origami of the Middle East since there are other initiatives notably in occupied Palestine and also in Egypt with ARAB ORIGAMI. However, I would like to illustrate by my title a will to spread origami through my part of the world because I believe it has an important role in the construction of the modern Middle East that has only been amplified by the Arab Spring and the destruction of many countries, mainly Syria where personal attachments lie. So what does origami have to offer?
Origami is my favorite art form because of the simplicity it offers: all you need or will ever need to fold is paper even if advanced folding demands different techniques and skills. In that sense anybody can fold because paper is everywhere and the art is easily taught. So origami makes great workshop product because it consumes very little time, it achieves a feeling of achievement and it teaches something that can be done outside of the workshop.
We must also add to that the values taught by origami. Patience is first, because no matter how good a person’s space understanding is he or she always has to take a step back from the paper then fold. That is why I always try to take my time in explaining a folding process during teaching. The more an origamist goes slowly, the more he creates a perfect model. Attention is second. In many places where I work, kids are not attending school or even know how to write their name and sometimes telling them to sit and read is too much to ask for the distracted children. The fun behind origami pushes the kids to WANT to pay attention to what I am doing and what they are folding, I rarely see it go the other way. They also want to conquer the paper since there is little they can conquer in their life. Also, origami is a very practical way of introducing geometry and practicing it, not only for children but also for the experienced folder as I will eventually explain in the DESIGN page of this web site. Eventually origami teaches respect; when I give workshops I even demand it implicitly. The reason behind this is very simple; one cannot learn origami if a proper teacher student relationship is built. In many cases there is an outbreak of
‘AMO, AMO, HEK?’
Or ‘uncle, uncle, like this?’ By not responding to the kids who demand attention in that way and valuing the silent kids and help them fold, most kids immediately get it and start to pay more attention to what I am saying and value the time I give to others as much as the time I give to them.
Origami also offers cultural widening since it is a gate way to Japan. Origami is applied in so many fields of science; it is an introduction to engineering, architecture, design and numerous others. The comprehension of origami is the mastery of form, an escape from reality and a dive into the geometry of the square. Because it demands attention, you no longer have the possibility to think of life and thus purges worries even if for a brief moment in time in my opinion it does more so then even a puzzle.
So all in all origami is a powerful educational tool that teaches values in a short period of time. For the children of the Bekaa or other camps where schooling is limited, origami reveled to be of high importance. But its importance will remain when we go back to Syria as origami includes even a much higher level of education which is why it is starting to be taught in most high schools in the occident. I have recently applied to architectural universities and have been accepted mainly thanks to my origami.
The last reason, and maybe the most important one, is that origami is beauty anybody can make for the reasons stated above. This beauty must be spread to aid the people who have little beauty in their lives. I have been told in the past that it is a waste of time to teach origami in the Middle East, ‘we need food and water not paper folding’. Well in my opinion, this lack of intellectual training is what gets us in this mess. Origami provokes a part of the mind and strengthens it; a training I think is of comparable importance of that of food and water.
To conclude, origami is music with paper as an instrument. When you fold, you are following instructions made by another (or a composition) but you also add an interpretation that represents you personally. Melody and harmony are converted into mathematical proportions represented by lines. To truly understand the values of origami one must fold, but these values are essential to the education of youth especially in war driven countries.
Here is just an example of one of the many workshops I gave;