Guide to Lebanon Blog Posts

It’s hard to believe how much time has passed since I was in Lebanon. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday and other times it feels like it was all a dream (yes, I know that sounds cliche!). Whenever I think back to those incredible ten days in Lebanon I always have a smile on my face.

In a few weeks I will be presenting again on my time in Lebanon. This presentation will be at the Hudson Library and Historical Society on Tuesday February 5th at 7:00pm. Again, I hope for those of you in the area, you will consider attending.

For anyone who is new to my blog I thought it might be helpful if I repost the links to each blog post that I made while in Lebanon. I have included a brief summary of each one.


Oreos with the Ambassador = Pre-departure, reflection on orientation in Washington DC

Details from pre-departure = more information on our pre-departure orientation sessions

Walking Tour = Our first day in Lebanon we took a walking tour of downtown Beirut

All around Lebanon = Big day of touring including Khalil Gibran museum, the Cedars, and the Roman Ruins at Baalbek

Day 4 – Our first meetings = met with Michael Young, Hanin Ghaddar, Ousama Safa and Lokman Slim

Day 6 – More meetings = met with Youssef Fawaz from Al Majmoua (microfinance NGO) and toured American University of Beirut

Parliament Meeting = met with Simon Abi Ramia, member of Parliament and head of the commission for Youth and Sports

Tour of Byblos = visited Jeita Grotto and Byblos

Just Checking In = photos at the border with Israel and with UNIFIL

Music in Lebanon = details on Najwa Karam performance at the Achrafieh Music Festival and our visit to Skybar

Visit to the US Embassy in Beirut = details on the life of US ambassadors in Lebanon

ANERA = met with Bill Corcoran, president of American Near East Refugee Assosciation, who does work with Palestinian Refugees


Flower at Baalbek

Back to School

One of my pet peeves is bloggers who apologize for not posting for a while. So I’m not going to do that! But here’s what I’ve been up to recently:

After Lebanon, I went right back into my internship which was AMAZING. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better summer. I learned so much at IPM. I really need to post soon about what I was doing and all the cool projects I learned about. Lucky for me they enjoyed having me there just as much as I enjoyed being there, so I will be continuing to work a few hours a week there throughout the fall (and probably spring too).

August rolled around and that meant moving back to JCU for SRA training and RA training. This was my third year doing RA training, but it was like a brand new experience with the majority of my staff being new RA’s, as well as being in an Upperclass residence hall for the first time. I have nothing but positive things to say about everyone I work with. I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by my fellow RA’s who I consider to be the most interesting, motivated, dedicated, and determined group of students on campus.

The highlight of the past month though has been my brother moving in to JCU to begin his freshman year! I am SO happy that he’s here with me. I love watching him figure out what college means for him and what choices he’s making to shape his John Carroll experience. So far he has been busy with ROTC. I’m proud of him for choosing to do something he believes in and I’m grateful for all the guys who are watching out for him now.

And then yesterday we finally started classes. I feel like I’ve been back on campus forever and I was 100%  ready to start classes. I have three regular classes on my schedule (which is very few compared to most students) because I’m getting credit for my internship and also doing my Senior Honors Project (more on that another day). Yesterday I had Intro to Microeconomics and Arabic 201. This is my first time ever taking an Econ class so I’m a little nervous, but I’m choosing to take this because I want to be better prepared for graduate school in the future. And Arabic, well I still need to get back into the swing of things for that… I’m hoping with some focus and determination over the next few days I can regain my knowledge from last year! Today I had Intro to Peace, Justice, and Human Rights. I’m really looking forward to the material we will be covering in this class. I think it will be a really interesting class and relate a lot to the work IPM does. Hopefully I plan to blog here about the material we cover in class.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. All great stuff! It may seem hard to believe, but now that classes have started I think I’ll have more time to devote to this blog. In the mean time, here’s a funny picture I found from Lebanon. When we visited the Cedars there were lots of little souks/bazaars outside the forest area that sold souvenirs and hats. I tried this one on, but I didn’t buy it. I hope all is well for my readers near and far!

All around Lebanon

Today was super busy seeing lots of tourist things. This morning we went to the Khalil Gibran museum which was a two hour drive from Beirut. This was our first time to drive through the mountains. We were able to see the full extent of how beautiful Lebanon is. The museum was small and simple, but a great collection of Gibran’s artwork in his former home. Linda read us an excerpt from The Prophet while we were in the bus on the way to our next stop. She read one of my favorite sections which I had quoted on my Twitter about a week ago:

@laurakisthardt: Khalil Gibran on children: “You may give them your love, but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts.”

After the museum, we walked around the preserved Cedars. They were incredibly beautiful, but are unfortunately very over harvested. When you look from the top of the mountain the grove where we had walking among the cedars it was such a tiny section of land.

While on the bus to our next destination after the cedars, we stopped at the top of the mountain where there was snow and ice! Our group had a mini snowball fight. I also bought some nuts that a vendor was selling, several other people also bought a variety of nuts. We continued on our drive in the country, noting along the way Christian villages or Muslim villages. Since it was Sunday, many of the Christian villages were nearly impossible to drive through because of all the cars completely parked any which way in the streets.

Our next stop on the tour was the Roman ruins at Baalbek. I seriously can not express how amazing this place was! It truly looks the same as in Greece or Rome. There were originally three temples at Baalbek. One is still unrestored and buried in the ground. There are two temples to walk around in. The temple of Bacchus is the most complete Roman temple in the entire world. It is the only temple in the world to have any part of the ceiling remaining. It was all incredibly detailed and beautiful. The other temple which was more destroyed was to honor Jupiter. Even though it was not as intact as the other temple it was still incredible to imagine how grand it must have once been.

The reason that the these ruins are so well preserved in because the Muslims built fortresses around the temples. They used them as a defense against invaders and inadverntantly protected the Roman temples. Specifically the temple of Bacchus was later used as a dungeon and storehouse. When it was no longer in use it was just filled with dirt. For this reason, there is writing on the walls of the temple about 15 feet in the air from the 1800’s when the ground was at that level. It was truly an interesting sight to see!

After the wonderful tour of Baalbek, we went for an ice cream in Zahle. Zahle was a very cute little town with a nice river flowing through it. The section where we stopped for ice cream had a sort of mini-amusement park and arcade games. I tried the traditional ice cream covered in pistachios which was a fruit flavor that was very sweet and tasted creamy, but not like vanilla. Our guide did not remember the word for it in English and said he would look it up and get back to me.

As if the day was not full enough, we came back to the hotel after the long drive back to Beirut for a quick rest and then change for dinner. We went to a traditional Lebanese restaurant for dinner. It was amazing! We tried so many different dishes. My personal favorites were stuffed grape leaves, a pizza that I could not describe at all, and simply the pita bread and olive oil. This was the best olive oil I’ve ever had in my life. The delicious meal made a great end to an amazing day all around Lebanon. We came back and reflected for a bit with the group at the hotel and then headed up for bed!