Behind every dream there is a history, and behind this history lie more details than you can imagine! When I was selected to participate in the 2015 Maronite Academy, I didn’t know how my dream of discovering the land of my ancestors could materialize.
I thought everything would eventually boil down to a simple academic course that would help me learn more about Lebanon from an intellectual point of view. I had no clue what was in store for me.
The trip did not begin when I came to Lebanon; it had already started in my head as soon as I got the news and set out to prepare myself for this trip. I felt like I already had a foot in the plane!
Getting to Lebanon was amazing; we arrived at night and everything seemed to be just like a dream. We start to talk to each other getting to know our backgrounds; it is then that things started to take shape and the dream was becoming reality. All of us shared the same feelings, the same love for our mother country no matter where we came from. Effortlessly, Lebanon had brought us closer to each other and bound our hearts together.
The kindness and compassion in this group were amazing; everyone was worried about the others’ well-being and showed tremendous interest in each activity. The lectures we attended were very interesting and gave us the key tools to become the true ambassadors of our countries.
Each lecture opened our horizon a bit more, pushed us to think, to react, and to take initiative in order to spread the Lebanese cultural heritage. Our opinions and critical thinking were always received with the utmost openness and this serves yet as another example of the respect for diversity that characterizes our Lebanon.
On the other hand, we got to know the whole of Lebanon, from north to south and from the coast up to the mountains; only the Academy could have realized such a challenge in such a short timeframe. The lovely Abouna Fadi was our tour guide and the wealth of the information he knew was nothing short of breathtaking! The immense historical, geographical and cultural richness of these ancient lands was beyond impressive.
I leave Lebanon with an immense treasure in my heart, prouder of my heritage and the knowledge I have gained; none of this would’ve been possible without the efforts of the Maronite Academy which reunited me with my roots and taught me how to cherish and protect them.
It gave to me the strength to become the ambassador of my mother land, Lebanon, in my country. We lived a beautiful dream called Lebanon while being wide awake and I’m positive that this is an opportunity many other youths will be benefiting from thanks to the Academy’s prowess and talent.
In my heart I keep the names of all my Lebanese brothers who live in different parts of the world, their faces, their smiles, their friendship, and their sympathy. I keep every happy moment that we shared in Lebanon and those faces full of tears, when we said goodbye hoping to meet again in the not too distant future; surely in Lebanon.
A big thanks to the Maronite Academy, the cheerleader, the forger of dreams and hopes to all those who are far from Lebanon. Thanks to the graduates of the 2015 Maronite Academy, my friends and brothers who have done this unique and special trip and whom I look forward to seeing again. Thanks to my family in Argentina who were with me every step of my dream adventure in Lebanon.
And finally, I want to thank God, who was also dreaming when he was created Lebanon and left part of his soul there. This land is so full of His presence; every place we visited told us a story about Him. My dream became reality, my heart is dressed with the colors of Lebanon and my life, after this trip, it is totally different. Thanks to all!
Thank you to the Maronite Academy for allowing me to discover and understand Lebanon's true history, its breathtaking beauty, and sacred sites. I have seen places that even my own parents and grandparents have not seen. I feel very blessed and closer to my Lebanese roots. Meeting Lebanese descendants from around the world was the highlight of this trip. The different cultures and everyone's passion for learning and supporting Lebanon were truly inspiring. Being part of this experience was thrilling and enriching beyond words. I will treasure the memories and the friendships I have made forever. Lebanon you will always be in my prayers and I will forever come back to you.
I have been to Lebanon many times but the journey of summer 2015 with the Maronite Academy was incredibly unique and surpassed all my expectations. Whilst preparing for the trip, we learnt a lot about the importance of claiming and preserving our Lebanese identity. We also encouraged and assisted people in claiming their Lebanese citizenship. During the trip we were inspired by the conviction and passion of a number of speakers who further promoted their beliefs and ideas through the conferences we attended.
But the greatest testimony was our group. A group made up of over sixty youth of Lebanese-descent from fifteen different countries across the world! Cultural barriers instantly dissipated over the mutual love for Lebanon and its traditions, the zeal for the Maronite faith, the hospitality, creativity, intelligence, resilience and the persistent joy which we all shared and united us as a group from day one. These common and innate virtues were a living proof of the reality of our shared identity which has been sacredly nurtured within our families. This amazing group proved that our identity as Lebanese is an invaluable treasure, far beyond a piece of paper or a mere statistic, which we ought to protect!
Over two weeks we participated in an extensive program that allowed us to experience Lebanon from a historical, cultural, political, social and spiritual dimension like never before. For me, the ultimate experience was the hike through Qadicha and Quannoubine valley. This is the land where our Maronite forefathers first walked, lived, and suffered in order to defend and protect our Maronite faith. To be able to walk in their footsteps in the valley where they sacrificed all they had was an incredibly humbling experience.
I thank the Maronite Foundation for granting me the opportunity to connect with Lebanon and gain such inspirational Lebanese brothers and sisters from all over the world. I would like to thank Father Fady Kmeid and Mrs. Hiam Boustani In particular for their utmost dedication to the program.
I support the Foundation’s continued mission in inspiring the young Christian Lebanese diaspora to reconnect with their Lebanese roots and be proud ambassadors of their Lebanese identity no matter where they are in the world! In this way we will be truly upholding the dignity that Lebanon deserves, irrespective of its political instability, and our lives can rightly attest to Saint Pope John Paul II's message that "Lebanon is more than a country, it is a message"!
I am completely astonished by all the beauty and wonders I feasted my eyes with during this trip to Lebanon. Besides cultural matters, the other Lebanese descendants impressed me with lessons of love and brotherhood. Sure enough, the two weeks I spent in Lebanon will mark me for life, but most importantly, I have developed an unconditional love for this country and its people. I am more confident than ever that I will soon come back to this unique place and reconnect with its marvelous people. I am so happy that my dream to reconnect with my roots came true thanks to the Maronite Academy.