breaking walls On-Going Cultural & Educational Partner:

  • ACORN Community High School in Brooklyn, New York USA


ACORN Community High School will provide a global learning environment of high expectations that is not only rigorous in high academic standards, but also self-empowering. Through performance based assessment, all members of the ACHS community are able to collaborate, question and transform into life-long learners and refined critical thinkers. Principal Andrea Piper ACHS Battle Cry: “Success is the only option.”

Summer 2012 Partners:

Al-Rowwad in Bethlehem, Palestine

Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theater Training Center is an independent Palestinian center for artistic, cultural, and theater training for children in Aida Camp. The center’s mission is to provide a safe and healthy environment to help children creatively discharge the stress of the war conditions they are forced to live in. This creative approach is “a beautiful resistance,” according to Dr. Abdel Fattah Abu-Srour, Al-Rowwad’s founder and director. Dr. Abu-Srour is an internationally acclaimed playwright and director.

The Nelson Mandela International High School in Berlin, Germany

The NMS is an “integrated secondary school.” The Nelson Mandela School accepts all students. The NMS curriculum is geared towards individual student needs and excellence. Acting Principal: Brigitte Kather

Summer 2014 Partner:

The Rainbow Dreams Trust

The objects of the Rainbow dreams Trust

To assist those less fortunate in the community.
To seek and find those who have an impossible dream, primarily children but not limited to and will include teenagers, adults, groups or bodies who’s purpose is to improve the lives of others.
To assist those who are worthy, but due to their own personal situation, restraints, financial or physical limitations, would never be able to have their dream fulfilled.
To create hope where hope was long forgotten. to create happiness where there was only sorrow. to make a difference in the lives of others…………………

Summer 2014 Partner:

Col-Legi del Teater in Barcelona, Spain

Col-legi del Teatre is a professional training center that specializes in training actors through the integration of a rigorous educational approach through aesthetics, techniques and the working methods of the most innovative and relevant educational developments.

The teaching staff consists of qualified teachers in their specialty and professional actors, directors, playwrights and producers who bring to the student a professional reality integrated into the educational process.

brooklyn bridges- to bethlehem & back Advisory Board:

  • Eva Haller
  • Kathy Eldon
  • AbdelFattah Abu Srour
  • Maher Abdelqader
  • Patrick Coye
  • B. E. Noel
  • Jaimie Mayer Phinney

breaking walls Advisory Board:

  • Arthur Allen
  • Chivonne Floyd
  • Samantha McGow
  • A. D. Nizich
  • Anne Stockton

breaking walls Creative Partners:

  • Crystal Boyd
  • Leese Katsnelson
  • Ali Mousa
  • A. D. Nizich
  • Shawn Waite

breaking walls Associate Directors:

  • Rebecca Hochman Masback Associate Director in Brooklyn

As Fran looked to form the breaking walls team her choice was a simple: Rebecca Masback.

+ Rebecca, through her work at Brooklyn’s “Life Lines” Community Arts Project, brings expertise in editing and access to a wide-range of middle school student writers.

+ As a renowned arts educator Fran contributes her ability to see and bring out the best in everyone she encounters as well as a successful history of program building and curriculum development. Her vision to guide youth to discover their voice and then introduce their voice to a published platform is long-term and ongoing.

breaking walls 2012 Facilitators:

  • Ryan Smith
  • Mohammad Abu Srour
  • Ameer Shan Fazal
  • Mahmoud Abu Srour
  • Fabienne Muntu
  • Rowa Abu Srour

breaking walls 2014 Facilitators:

  • Ryan Smith
  • Mohammad Abu Srour
  • Ameer Shan Fazal
  • Mahmoud Abu Srour
  • Fabienne Muntu
  • Rowa Abu Srour
  • Merve Kania






Strategic Partners


We are proud that our first strategic partner is the renowned artist’s support organization, Fractured Atlas.  From the time we engaged them, they have proven to be very supportive and their mentorship has really helped our development.


Fractured Atlas is a non-profit organization that serves a national community of artists and arts organizations. Our programs and services facilitate the creation of art by offering vital support to the artists who produce it. We help artists and arts organizations function more effectively as businesses by providing access to funding, healthcare, education, and more, all in a context that honors their individuality and independent spirit. By nurturing today’s talented but underrepresented voices, we hope to foster a dynamic and diverse cultural landscape of tomorrow.


What Does That Really Mean?

Good question. We’re a national organization that supports folks at every level of the cultural ecosystem. Mostly that includes individual artists — performing, visual, literary, design, media, and everything in between — and arts organizations — from one-person outfits to the biggest of the big.



We are equally proud to announce partnerships with two cultural/educational institutions that will allow our documentary project and breaking walls to remain viable, consistent, and a long-term grassroots movement.



AbdelFattah Abu Srour


Al-Rowwad Cultural & Theater Training Center


“When I first watched Fran work with us- I believed that her collaboration with our kids would be a beautiful project. That was in 2006. Six years later our work together has grown from collaboration to true partnership. It’s more than beautiful, it’s a source of joy and pride.”



Andrea Piper


ACORN Community High School


“breaking walls is a perfect match for our school and that of our students.  This is an exciting opportunity which should be beneficial to our students and their overall understanding of the world around them.”



Brigitte Kather

Acting Principal

The Nelson Mandela International High School


breaking walls amazing engagement for more understanding among young people of different nations and cultures is so encouraging for my Berlin students. We are happy to contribute to this Work for Peace too.”




Starting in 2008, a core group of young men and women from Brooklyn and Bethlehem committed themselves to challenging the media negative images of youth and transforming their life experiences, into a movement to assist youth world-wide. After writing and performing their work in two documentaries, these young adults will take the world-stage as breaking walls’ creative leaders.



RYAN SMITH – “Growing up in Brooklyn all these years has taught me to always expect the unexpected, especially with opportunities that come once in a lifetime.  “brooklyn bridges- to bethlehem & back”is one of those opportunities.  Life in the hood is pretty calm right now, and there are a lot of recent positive events that have made it that way. I am happy for the calmness because being a part of this documentary has made me love Brooklyn even more and value the people in it– my friends, family, and the people who work hard to make my neighborhood run smoothly.


 “I had never been out of Brooklyn for more than a week, so the trip to Bethlehem had me very excited. I came back to Brooklyn with a whole new way of looking at the world. This trip to create the documentary was a highlight in my life.  It brought me closer to my fellow cast mates, and my brothers and sisters in Bethlehem.”


 “People in this world might look at me in the same light after all these experiences but it will not bother me because this whole Bethlehem to Brooklyn experience has taught me that you should never judge people, because you never know what they carry on their shoulders, where they have been, or who they truly are.”


“So many kids in my Brooklyn neighborhood are at-risk, like I was, I’m proud to be a part of changing that through our breaking walls project.”



MOHAMMAD ABU-SROUR – “Living in a refugee camp is not easy especially if you are forced to live in one. I consider living in the camp like staying in a station while waiting for your train to go back home. Even though the camp is small and crowded, and every day you are fearful, I feel I have a responsibility to myself, my family and my people to create a better future. I am strong in contrast to the weakness of the situation in the camp. I’m like a bird that fights for his freedom.  I have my goals that I want to achieve.


“Joining the brooklyn bridges – to bethlehem & back documentary made me feel that I’m not alone. No matter if you are black or white, what language you speak, or which area you live in- WeE are humans. We share the same interests and problems with few differences.  We live on the same planet. Why not try to become friends? Why not try to work together for the best?”


“I learned a lot from this documentary.  For one thing, it is very important to find yourself—to discover what you are capable of doing, and look for the beauty in everything; then, you will be a person who truly knows himself.  I am happy that I will be able to share this idea with the kids in Berlin. I am proud to be a leader now.”



AMEER SHAN FAZAL – Shan graduated from Independence High School, and left college where he studied music to take on his father’s job as a doorman when his father suffered a stroke in January of 2011. He plays guitar with his band FOUR WHITE WALLS. “brooklyn bridges- to bethlehem & back”proves that as young adults we want to create positive change- that when we care for an idea we go after it non-stop.


“Being one of the first breaking walls facilitators, after writing for the two documentaries, means everything to me. Ryan and I did a mini breaking walls writing workshop with the students at Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School. Every student seemed to really enjoy it, AND THEY WANTED MORE!!!!! I felt proud about the entire experience and am very confident about the future of everything that we are doing with breaking walls. Berlin we’re on our way!”



MAHMOUD ABU-SROUR – Mahmoud studies Political Science at Al Quds University in the West Bank. He’s a talented actor, playwright and Dabka dancer.


“brooklyn bridges- to bethlehem & back showed me how powerful my words, my voice can be for creating positive change. I see change comes from the bottom up- but it arrives.”


“Now being a leader for breaking walls is important for me because all the world has problems, we should listen to these problems and write about these problems because hand-in-hand we can do anything.”



FABIENNE MUNTU – Fabie graduated from Brooklyn Academy High School on Marcy Avenue. She is studying Political Science at Plattsburg State University in NY, and intends to go to Columbia Law School upon graduation. Fabie will pursue a degree in International Law at Columbia.


“Being in the documentary showed me that everyone is the same. No one wants to be judged. No one wants to feel unimportant or unheard. I’m proud that I can lead this new group of writer-performers from Bethlehem and Brooklyn as we all travel to Berlin to explore all their lives, hopes and dreams through writing and performing.”



ROWA’ ABU-SROUR – Rowa’ attends the UNRWA Girls High School in the Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. She is studying hard for the exit exam, the Tawjie. Her goal is to attend the renowned Bard College’s new campus in Abusdis near Bethlehem. She will study Business Administration and eventually open her own business that will employ Palestinian women.


“Our documentary showed me that I am not the only person who is suffering in this world. I know our film is a very huge step but it isn’t enough for us. With breaking walls we want to continue on this bridge. I am sure there are other youngsters who will want to join us.





breaking walls looks forward to announcing our newest writer-performers from Al-Rowwad and ACORN . . . as well as our 2012 summer participants in Berlin. A total of 20 teens will write and perform under the guidance of Ryan, Mohammad, Shan, Mahmoud, Fabie and Rowa’.


We guided the transformation of these young men and women Samira Abu Srour and Rebecca Masback have stood solidly at her side . . .



SAMIRA ABU-SROUR – Samira holds a BA degree in English from Bethlehem University and teaches English in the Palestinian school system.  Her ability to bring out the best in her students makes her a much-valued dedicated collaborator.


“I love this project to the extent that I want it to get a Noble prize for being a good model of how anyone can make human being able to work together for the interest and the benefits for the entire world.   In the previous century they talked about globalization and how the world is becoming a small village. This time we want breaking walls not to connect youth only through technology, but with human ties (bonds) and with shared interests and dreams.”



REBECCA MASBACK – Rebecca is an educator from New York City. She currently coordinates academic and arts enrichment programs for the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. She holds a M.A. in Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in American Studies from Wesleyan University. Whenever possible, Rebecca enjoys traveling, teaching theater and practicing Spanish.

“I am dedicated to breaking walls because I believe in the power of art and writing to bring people together and the greatness that can be achieved when teens from diverse parts of the world unite.”


  And our newest partner . . .


TALENE MONAHAN – Talene hails from Belmont, MA and is currently entering her senior year at Dartmouth College, where she is pursuing a degree in Theater and Women and Gender Studies. She hopes to work in acting and theater education after graduation.
“I am so excited to be joining the breaking walls team this summer.  I believe in theater as an agent of personal understanding and social change, therefore I couldn’t have chosen a better internship opportunity.”