The Maronite Academy 2017 Educational trip to Lebanon



Many young Lebanese-descent Christians from 13 different countries around the world coming from Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Greece, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay, USA, and Venezuela visited Lebanon this August 2017, and partook in the Maronite Academy, an endeavor undertaken by the Maronite Foundation.
Carried for the 5th consecutive year, this initiative aims to bring the Lebanese diaspora’s youth closer to their roots and their country of origin.

After going through a series of comprehensive online courses tackling the history of Lebanon and the Maronite Heritage, the applicants (between the ages of 20 and 30, of Lebanese descent, living abroad)  had to undergo a written Essay, based on research and on personal/family experience, assessing the reason why they would like to visit Lebanon with the Maronite Foundation, and if they were willing to contribute helping the Foundation by motivating the largest number of Lebanese living abroad among their communities, to recover their Lebanese citizenship.


 Moreover, preference was given to those whose purposes, aspirations, and skills are most closely aligned with the mission of the Maronite Foundation in the World and the selection process was highly dependent upon the levels of engagement, motivation, and thinking skills of the participants.

The successful candidates got the chance to live an unforgettable experience; in a free two-week trip to Lebanon from August 5 till August 20, 2017, all expenses fully covered by the Maronite Foundation.

The winners’ stay in Lebanon spanned over two weeks during which they attended daily lectures held at the USEK University by prominent panelists and visited various historical sites and landmarks.
 


Photos



The Maronite Academy 2017 Participants


Anthony Matar
| Canada
A.M.
Anthony Matar
Marlen Abdel Massih Hage
| Mexico
There are no words to describe this amazing trip. It was the first time that I went to my parents´ country and today I can say that Lebanon is not the place I imagined or the place that people described. For me, it´s a place full of tradition, full of wonderful people I never imagined existed, full of values, delicious food and most importantly full of roots and stories. On this trip, I met amazing people from around the world and today I see them as my family. I met Lebanon in a way that no one knows it, not even the people who live there and I reconnected with my roots and with my family. After this trip, I can say that I feel 100% complete, today I can say that I am a Lebanese girl. So, no matter where I am, my heart will stay there forever and the only thing I can say is thank you to God and to all those who made my biggest dream come true. Lebanon is proud of me, and I am proud of my roots.
M.H.
Marlen Abdel Massih Hage
Sandy Rita Tannouri
| Canada
This trip was definitely a once in a lifetime treasure. When thinking back of the smallest details, it makes me want to smile, laugh, and cry, all at once. The highlights of the trip for me were the procession at St.Charbel in Annaya and the Qadisha Valley hike, where we walked along the trails where our Maronite ancestors walked and prayed. I could hear them. I could feel them. I was with them, and they are now with me. I came on this trip with a lot of questions: about Lebanon, about the Maronite heritage, about myself. I have to say that a lot of my questions were answered thanks to this enriching program and all of this fortified my pride for my country, my heritage and for my parent’s values that make me who I am. It was such a beautiful experience, one that truly changed my life and strengthened my faith in God. I am blessed and thankful for the stories I can now share, the lifetime friends I’ve made, the international language practice, the unlimited dancing and singing, and all of the lessons I’ve learned. Thank you Maronite Academy, I love you all.
S.T.
Sandy Rita Tannouri
Mélissa Mélodie Ibrahim
| Canada
Ah, my beautiful Lebanon! You will forever be in my heart. This trip was a truly once in a lifetime experience that I will cherish forever. Thank you Maronite Academy for this wonderful experience. This is how I describe My Lebanon, as Khalil Gibran Khalil said: “You have your Lebanon and its dilemma. I have my Lebanon and its beauty. Your Lebanon is an arena for men from the West and men from the East. My Lebanon is a flock of birds fluttering in the early morning as shepherds lead their sheep into the meadow and rising in the evening as farmers return from their fields and vineyards. You have your Lebanon and its people. I have my Lebanon and its people." You have your Lebanon and I have My Lebanon. God bless!
M.I.
Mélissa Mélodie Ibrahim
Dayanne Garcia
| Brazil
D.G.
Dayanne Garcia
Dominique Soffee
| Canada
I don't know where to begin. Because of this once in a lifetime journey, I have this sudden urge to write a novel on my experience, because it is one that truly made everything in my life more clear. I will never be able to thank the Maronite Academy for all that they have done. The two weeks I spent in Lebanon with all my new Lebanese family from over 13 countries was a dream come true. Before going to Lebanon, I had spent a month in Italy for university, a summer before that I was in France for university as well, and I am blessed to have traveled quite a lot so far. But, no matter where I've been or where I'm going next, there is no place like Lebanon. Even though I live in Canada, Lebanon will always be home. During this trip, I was able to think freely and cultivate myself and for that, I am forever grateful. The last time I visited Lebanon was in 2010, before that in 2003. After this trip, the pattern of going every 7 years will definitely change to every year after my time with the Maronite Academy 2017 family. So for that, I say thank you, thank you God and God Bless. My favorite quote from the conferences was "Know your culture, know your roots, and be proud because you are an eagle."
D.S.
Dominique Soffee
Maya Khoury
| USA
The trip with the Maronite Academy was by far an experience of a lifetime. Although I've been to Lebanon before, I've never experienced it the way we did during the two week period. From the combination of educational conferences and field trips we deepened our knowledge of the rich Maronite faith, our ancient Phoenician roots and our vibrant culture. Our peoples' spirit and "joie de vivre"- love for life is reflected in art, music, dance, and cuisine. No matter from what part of the world each participant was from we all had an instant connection through our faith in God and our Lebanese heritage, we became one big family. The love and hospitality that the Maronite Academy showed us was incredible, words can not describe how grateful I am for this experience. I made wonderful friends and I will cherish the memories forever.
M.K.
Maya Khoury
Eduardo Hawatt Filho
| Brazil
E.F.
Eduardo Hawatt Filho
Nadia Abimorad
| Uruguay
When I first arrived to Lebanon and I realized that I was in the land of my ancestors, a huge emotion filled my heart. As I walked on the streets in the towns, admiring the architecture, learning about their history, I met people and enjoyed the fabulous and tasty meals, and my feelings for Lebanon became stronger. The travel group was amazing, I will keep a lot of friends for life. The Academy program is just perfect. The two weeks are so intense that they change your life forever and fill you with happiness. The Academy group made me feel at home and I'm deeply grateful for that.
N.A.
Nadia Abimorad
Denisse Joniaux
| USA
I am forever thankful for the chance the Maronite Academy gave me to connect with my roots. It was such a wonderful trip, and our group had exactly the kind of experience we had hoped for - impactful, meaningful, and very well organized. This opportunity has been life changing. It has shaped my perspective about life in ways I could have never have imagined, and for that I’m grateful. I’ve never felt so welcome in any other country before, and I’ve been blessed to meet so many amazing people who I know I will keep in touch with forever. I will never forget this trip and what it taught me.
D.J.
Denisse Joniaux


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