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.

Enjoy!

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

Parliament Meeting

This morning we met with Simon Abi Ramia, a member of Parliament who is the head of the commission for Youth and Sports. As always, this was a very interesting meeting. Abi Ramia worked in France for 23 years and returned to Lebanon about six years ago. He is a member of the Free Patriotic Movement party. I was very surprised when he immediately stated that the source of Lebanon’s problems are their neighbors, Syria and Israel. Blaming others is an issue that we have focused on among the students in the fellowship. Placing the blame on other groups for problems within Lebanon is common, but creates a much larger issue because it avoids the reality of the situation and the real actors.

Abi Ramia informed us that his goal and the goal of the parliament is to make laws and examine the work of the government. He said that he is not directly involved with the people, in the sense of direct aid. He is very involved though in a social aspect with the people of his district. Abi Ramia shared that in the past two days he attended seven funerals and weekends are filled with weddings, baptisms, and other various celebrations. When he first came to office Abi Ramia did not want to spend time on these social things because he wanted to focus on actual policy making. However, the Lebanese society does not accept avoiding these social functions because of the importance of family and community. Therefore, Abi Ramia’s weekends and free time are filled with social events.

The budget for the Ministry of Youth and Sports is only $2-3 million in Lebanon, which Abi Ramia compared to France which he said was approximately $1 billion for the same ministry. For this reason, we can see that youth and sports are not considered one of the top ministries. However, Abi Ramia has a good argument for why Lebanon should spend more money on this ministry. He argues that sports cross sectarian lines and more youth sports groups and even adult sports groups would help unite the people on a different level than religion.

Changing the voting age from 21 to 18 was mentioned again. I’m not sure if I mentioned this on my blog before, but in one of our previous sessions we heard from someone who spoke on this issue. Abi Ramia simply stated that he supported moving the voting age to 18 and did not go into any details. However, our earlier speaker had mentioned that there had been groups trying to work with students to change the voting age, but students did NOT want to change it. The reasoning for not wanting to change the voting age to 18 was that the students are already so divided into sectarian lines and neither group wanted to unbalance the machine.

PS The photo is from sunset at the restaurant we ate dinner at, Pepe Abed.