The Maronite Academy 2018 Educational trip to Lebanon
Many young Lebanese-descent Christians from different countries around the world visited Lebanon in August 2018, and partook in the Maronite Academy, an endeavor undertaken by the Maronite Foundation.
Carried for the 6th 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 will be 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;a free two-week trip to Lebanon from August 4 till August 19, 2018, 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 will visit various historical sites and landmarks.
I want to officially thank you all so much for the opportunity that I had to see my homeland in the most beautiful, memorable and breathtaking way possible. I have every memory implanted in my mind and I have not stopped thinking just how amazing the trip was. Your generosity, hospitality and kindness has been so astounding.
I learnt so many new things about Lebanon and you gave me so many opportunities to experience our homeland in not only a social and cultural way, but also spiritual. From my time in Lebanon, my faith has strengthened even more and I am just so blessed and thankful to you all for what you did for all of us. From the food, the transportation, to the activities and events, you made these two weeks the best two weeks of my life.
I need you to know that I completely understand what do you need from us, and I will keep getting as many registrations as possible. We must maintain our Maronite presence and have ourselves recognized both within and outside of Lebanon.
Lebanon is proud of you, be proud of your roots!
Since the first day of our arrival our hearts have been beating with excitement...we are here to reconnect with our roots and to visit the country of our origins.
Now each one of us will go back to his country, carrying stories and experiences.
It is this knowledge and this experience that will urge us to be missionaries and ambassadors for Lebanon.
I would like to thank the Maronite Foundation for givin me the opportunity to take part in the Maronite Academy program of 2018 which has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! During the program, we explored our homeland, visited multiple towns and villages, museums, restaurants, souks and churches; completed a beautiful pilgrimage in the Qadisha Valley and learned more about our history as Lebanese and Maronites and about our culture during the informative conferences. We were also privileged enough to meet the President Michel Aoun, Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi and Abbot Neemtallah El Hachem during our trip. After my two weeks in Lebanon with the Maronite Academy, I feel prouder than ever to be both Lebanese and Maronite. Father Fadi Kmeid, Mrs. Hiam Boustani and the entire team need to be acknowledged for the wonderful program they put together for us. The program was well organised, and we were very well taken care of. At first, I was saddened to realize that many South African Lebanese have lost much of our culture over the generations. Like many Lebanese South Africans, I am unable to speak Arabic, and I also knew little about our traditional music, dance and other aspects of our culture (though I am proud to say I knew the food very well😊). However, now I see this as a great opportunity to help bring more South African Lebanese youth closer to their roots; as well as help as many South African Lebanese as possible to register for their citizenship in Lebanon. Once again, THANK YOU for giving me this opportunity. I have deepened my connection to my homeland and made very special friends from all over the world and, for this, I will forever be grateful.
The two weeks that I spent in Lebanon were better than I could have ever imagined. Not only I reconnected with my Lebanese roots, but I was able to strengthen my Christianity to a point that I didn’t even think was possible. This was a result of so many factors that the Maronite Academy worked so hard to organize - from Abouna Fadi’s mini lectures to the sights and churches we visited, where we attended a life-changing mass with the Patriarch.
It was so refreshing to be surrounded by people who grew up in such a similar background as me. Everyone there had the same Lebanese roots like me, and no matter where they lived or how many generations had passed since their ancestors had left Lebanon, we were all proud of our Lebanese roots.
The memories and experiences I made in Lebanon would not have been possible without the generous and hardworking people who organize this program year after year. I am so thankful and blessed for the opportunity that the Maronite Foundation has provided me with and the amazing people that it has introduced me to.
Because of my participation in the academy, I will always feel a strong connection to Lebanon and I will be advocate for the return of any Lebanese living abroad. The amazing energy from everyone involved is something no one can find anywhere else. I can’t stress enough how amazing this trip was or how strongly it has impacted my life. Thank you again for the trip of a lifetime.