The Maronite Academy 2019 Educational trip to Lebanon



The Maronite Foundation hosted for the seventh consecutive year, in honor of the late Ramez G. Chaghoury, more than 90 young descendants from Lebanese origin coming from 16 countries around the world.
They participated in the Maronite Academy, an endeavor undertaken by the Maronite Foundation aimed at strengthening ties between the youths living aboard and their motherland Lebanon.

The successful candidates came from Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay, USA and Venezuela to partake in the Academy’s Educational trip.
They had the chance to live an unforgettable experience; a free two-week trip to Lebanon from August 3 until August 18.
The Academy youths toured their homeland Lebanon and explored its Religious and Historical Landmarks.They were hosted by the USEK University, where they attended daily lectures held by prominent panelists.

The academy youth were received this year by the most influential figures of Lebanon: President General Michel Aoun, Patriarch El Rahi, and several politicians namely H.E. Neemat Frem Honorary President of the Maronite Foundation and Member of Parliament. H.E Mr. Alain Aoun, H.E Mr. Tony Frangieh, H.E Mr. Pierre Bou Assi, H.E  Mr. Nadim Gemayel, H.E Amal Abou Zeid, founding member of the Maronite Foundation.
 
They are the representatives of the Maronite Foundation in the diaspora and contribute in helping the Foundation by motivating the largest number of Lebanese living abroad among their communities, to recover their Lebanese citizenship by running campaigns and referring families to register.


The Summer Program 2019



The 2019 summer witnessed remarkable memories and life-binding moments!
An unforgettable journey into the heart of Lebanon from August 3 till August 18, 2019, was waiting for the Maronite Academy Educational trip 2019 participants! 

The Maronite Academy summer trip spanned over two weeks, during which the youth attended lectures held at the USEK University by Lebanese politicians and prominent panelists as guest speakers in its conferences. They gave the students more insights into Lebanon’s history and role in the region.
 
Additionally, the youth visited Lebanon’s holy sites and monasteries, and various religious, cultural and historical landmarks such as Maghdouche, St. Charbel, Qadicha valley, Byblos, Baalbeck and the Cedars, to name a few.


The Maronite Academy 2019 Participants


Maria Fernanda Ocampo Jalil
| Argentina
M.J.
Maria Fernanda Ocampo Jalil
Nader Jesus Kfoure
| Argentina
I thank the Maronite Academy with all my heart for making one of my biggest dreams come true: getting to know Lebanon. This was not like any ordinary trip, rather it was one that I will never forget. Being in Lebanon,I felt that this little country belonged to me. I felt the connection with my roots at all times and in every magnificent place we visited. I learned a lot about various topics, from culture to history and religion. I also formed a strong bond with boys and girls from all over the world, and what brought us together was our great love and passion for Lebanon. The most exciting part of the trip was to find my Lebanese relatves at Ain el-Sofsaf, a village near Dhour el-Choueir). With them, I completed our family tree and shared really valuable time. This experience has expanded the knowledge I had of my origin, as I am the first member of my family to have gone back to Lebanon. I am committed to working hard to make the Maronite Foundation known in my country and to further spread the history about my beloved Lebanon.
N.K.
Nader Jesus Kfoure
Amin Issa
| Argentina
A.I.
Amin Issa
Juan Uñac Barcelo
| Argentina
J.B.
Juan Uñac Barcelo
Facundo Agustin Uñac Rodriguez
| Argentina
F.R.
Facundo Agustin Uñac Rodriguez
Camila Baclini
| Argentina
C.B.
Camila Baclini
Eduardo Jose Abdo
| Argentina
E.A.
Eduardo Jose Abdo
Maria Jose Romani Kuri
| Argentina
M.K.
Maria Jose Romani Kuri
Julián Ignacio Elías
| Argentina
J.E.
Julián Ignacio Elías
Stefania Centurion
| Argentina
When I learned that I was selected to be part of this trip with 100 other young Lebanese from all over the world, I felt that one of my dreams had come true: to get to know Lebanon and the land of the Cedars, of which my family spoke so much about. When you have grandparents that come from different parts of the world and you visit their motherland, you realize that there are many things that were inherited from that country. I am grateful that my ‘sitti,’ or grandmother, has carried the family traditions and customs, which were essential to having a sense of belonging, union and pride for my Lebanese origin. Thanks to the Maronite Academy for allowing me to be part of this incredible experience that I will never forget.
S.C.
Stefania Centurion
Maximiliano Chade
| Argentina
M.C.
Maximiliano Chade
Daniel Assade
| Argentina
D.A.
Daniel Assade
Lourdés Quinzano
| Argentina
There are no words that would do justice to the greatness of Lebanon and to what the Maronite Academy did to make us live the perfect trip. This can only be felt by experiencing it. We had cultural and religious visits, such as to the National Museum, Beirut Souks, the churches of Beirut, Our Lady of Ilige, St. Charbel, Baalbeck, Our Lady of Maghdouché, the Cedars of God, Qadisha Valley, Jeita Grotto and much more. My friends from 20 different countries and Abouna Fadi were the keys to the success of this trip. Fr. Fadi shared all his knowledge to teach us about every place we went, with a dedication and love that will never be forgotten. We also had the privilege of meeting Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai and President Michel Aoun, as well as many other prominent politicians and figures in Lebanon. I am extremely happy to have fulfilled a dream as big as living Lebanon and walking its streets. I met relatives and went to Baadarâne, to the house where my great grandfather was born and for that I am very grateful to the Academy. It would not have been possible, without the Maronite Academy, to have the trip we did, eating at delicious restaurants, meeting so many kind people and understanding our culture, all at once. Thank you for this enriching and emotional experience. I am now prouder than ever of my roots and prepared to promote Lebanon as an ambassador. The task will be difficult when it comes to being unbiased with the beauty of the place and describing every incredible thing about the summer trip. But I am ready for the challenge of presenting Lebanon, as I now know it, and hopefully leading many more people to fall in love with the country the way I have.
L.Q.
Lourdés Quinzano
Patricio Farhat
| Argentina
P..
Patricio Farhat
Lourdie Harb
| Australia
L.H.
Lourdie Harb
Elizabeth-Anne Maroon
| Australia
E.M.
Elizabeth-Anne Maroon
Samira EL-Baini
| Australia
S.E.
Samira EL-Baini
Rochelle EL-Baini
| Australia
R.E.
Rochelle EL-Baini
Johnny EL-Baini
| Australia
J.E.
Johnny EL-Baini
Josephine Khoury
| Australia
J.K.
Josephine Khoury
Paul Mitri
| Australia
P.M.
Paul Mitri
Adrian Adaimy
| Australia
A.A.
Adrian Adaimy
Ann Hassarati
| Australia
A.H.
Ann Hassarati
Emma Partridge
| Australia
E.P.
Emma Partridge
Jacob Louie Yazbeck
| Australia
J.Y.
Jacob Louie Yazbeck
Joanne Mansour
| Australia
J.M.
Joanne Mansour
Joe Kamleh
| Australia
J.K.
Joe Kamleh
John Wehbe
| Australia
I just wanted to say thank each one of you for making this trip an unforgettable experience. I did not need to make this trip to love Lebanon, which has been in my heart since I was a child. What I did find again is that I really do love Lebanese people. The way everyone was so friendly and caring on this trip really blew me away. I've made friends and connections with all you beautiful people and our connections have felt more like a family love (especially the people on my bus). Never forget your roots and when you have children teach them about Lebanon. Take them to our homeland; show them where your family came from. We all get caught up in work and others things, which lead us to forget about the most important aspects in life. The way our ancestors dealt with adversity and still managed to stay proud of their culture and religion is so inspiring and I never want that to die. All the best to everyone in future endeavors, I am sure I will see a lot of you again.
J.W.
John Wehbe
Jonathon Elias
| Australia
J.E.
Jonathon Elias
Joseph Mawad
| Australia
J.M.
Joseph Mawad
Martin Macconville
| Australia
M.M.
Martin Macconville
Maxine Bell
| Australia
M.B.
Maxine Bell
Remy Kamleh
| Australia
R.K.
Remy Kamleh
Salwa Elias
| Australia
S.E.
Salwa Elias
Tony Joshua Elias
| Australia
T.E.
Tony Joshua Elias
Vania Bejjani
| Australia
V.B.
Vania Bejjani
Helen Beaini
| Australia
H.B.
Helen Beaini
Paul Salem
| Australia
As I walked into the gates at the University of the Holy Spirit, Kaslik, I felt quite nervous and I didn’t know what to expect heading into a new country, with a group of people I had never met before. This feeling did not last very long. During the trip, I fell in love with Lebanon, its rich culture, history, landscape and people. One of the highlights of the trip was hiking through the Qadisha Valley, meeting a Maronite hermit and spending time in the beautiful mountainous regions. I have established a deep connection with Lebanon that is already calling me back for next summer. By the end of the trip, the Maronite Academy group felt like family to me. I now have a new family, spread all over the world: a family that extends all the way to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico, USA, Canada, South Africa, Italy, Australia and of course Lebanon. I intend to visit all of them in the future. I cannot wait for many more adventures in Lebanon with these people. I would like to thank the Maronite Academy for this opportunity, because without the Academy I would never have known what I was missing out on. The Maronite Academy has opened my eyes to a whole new world, and a community I will feel a part of for the rest of my life. I was very sad to leave Lebanon and the lovely people I met there. I would highly recommend this trip to any person who has Lebanese background and a desire to connect with their culture. YALLA!
P.S.
Paul Salem
Mauricio Medrano Sauma
| Bolivia
M.S.
Mauricio Medrano Sauma
Raquel Rivera Safadi
| Bolivia
This trip with the Maronite Academy was one of the best experiences of my life. I visited a wonderful country, full of incredible places, exceptional and courageous people and, above all, I discovered many things about myself, my origins, the country of my great-grandparents, my current family that is still there, their customs and religion and I reconnected with the beautiful land where my origins come from. It was a magical experience. Places, people, and customs showed me that "what is inherited, cannot be stolen." It was a path of discovery of who I am, where I come from, and the reasons for many things I couldn’t explain before. I felt the people of the academy as my own family. It was a revival of my childhood and the legacy that my great grandparents brought to Bolivia, but in another language and in its purest origins, in Lebanon. There are no words to describe all the happiness I feel having been able to live this experience, and to describe how joyful and grateful I am to everyone who made this possible. I return to Bolivia, but I leave my heart in Lebanon, totally in love with each of its corners and its people and hoping to return one day to live more unforgettable experiences and I am, more than ever, proud of my Lebanese roots.
R.S.
Raquel Rivera Safadi
Samira Aguilar - Neif
| Bolivia
Traveling to Lebanon was always a far dream for me and visiting the land of my grandparents seemed impossible until this unique opportunity arose. The moment my Lebanese friends and family heard that I’d be going to Lebanon, they all said I would like I was at home, not on vacation. This is exactly what I felt from the first moment when heard the General Security officer say, “Welcome home!” Today, I totally understand my grandfather telling me: “Our Lebanon is the most beautiful place in the world and I hope to come back one day.” Unfortunately, he could not, but now both of my grandparents are seeing Lebanon again: this time in through my eyes. I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I’m proud to say I belong to the most incredible countries in the world: Bolivia and Lebanon. More than never, I want the entire Bolivian diaspora to visit our homeland and I’m absolutely committed to make this come true. I want to thank God for this amazing opportunity and thanks to the entire team of the Maronite Academy. The Maronite Academy made my dream come true. God bless you all. I also want to thank my group of the Maronite Academy 2019. I fell in love with Lebanon and my heart is still there with the promise to return as soon as possible
S.N.
Samira Aguilar - Neif
Johnny Eduardo Dipp
| Bolivia
To return to Lebanon was to return home, to return to the land of my great grandfather and to return to the essence of the principles and values transmitted by the family. It was another opportunity to reconnect with my roots and to continue discovering this magical country and the best it has to offer: its history and its people It was amazing to share this opportunity with the entire Maronite Foundation team and Academy with the more than 100 participants. The best part of the trip was to meet the participants, learn about their experiences and what encouraged them to participate. It was also encouraging to hear of their love and longing to find their families in Lebanon. Thank you to the Maronite Foundation team for making the dreams of more than 100 people come true. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to live the dream of returning to our origins. Thanks to you, I will always have Lebanon in my mind and heart and I’m counting the days until I return again. I am committed to continue working for more descendants of Lebanese to become closer to their roots.
J.D.
Johnny Eduardo Dipp
Gabriel Safadi
| Bolivia
Before the trip, I’ve heard a lot of things about the country, from stories of my family about the land of my great grandparents, and also reading articles and watching videos about Lebanon, but all that I saw or heard cannot be compared with the experience of being there. First of all, I was impressed by all the culture and history that the country has, we were able to see a lot of historical places that I have never imagined to be able to see or to walk through. Then the religious visits, the country is full of religiosity and faith. Also the people, everybody was very kind with all of us, and made us feel really well during the program. And I got to know my family in Lebanon, which I have never met before, and the experience was shocking, because they were exactly the same as the family in Bolivia, then I realized that my great grandparents took all the costumes and taught us how to be a family in a Lebanese way. Finally I can say I am very grateful to have been able to be part of the Maronite Academy, because I learned a lot about Lebanon by first hand, and I will be able to share all the knowledge and all the feelings of love and gratitude to this amazing country, which I am proud of being part of.
G.S.
Gabriel Safadi
Anibal Wadih Stroparo Tahech
| Brazil
I would like to thank you for everything during this amazing trip with the Maronite Academy! This trip was special, probably the best two weeks in my life! I’ll always carry Lebanon and all the people who participated in this trip in my heart!
A.T.
Anibal Wadih Stroparo Tahech
Victor Bergamini Feres
| Brazil
V.F.
Victor Bergamini Feres
Gabriel Leivas Waquil
| Brazil
G.W.
Gabriel Leivas Waquil
Camila De Almeida
| Brazil
C.A.
Camila De Almeida
Rita Raad
| Brazil
R.R.
Rita Raad
Rose Raad
| Brazil
R.R.
Rose Raad
Paula Gibrim
| Brazil
P.G.
Paula Gibrim
Ana Clara Bazhuni
| Brazil
A.B.
Ana Clara Bazhuni
Gabriella El Corab
| Brazil
The best way to start loving a place is by learning its history, tasting its food and visiting its touristic attractions. This is how the Maronite Academy provided us the best trip to connect to our roots!!
G.C.
Gabriella El Corab
Fabiana Bazhuni
| Brazil
This was not my first time visiting Lebanon, but it was the first time I really felt connected to its land, people, culture, nature and religion. The Maronite Academy has given me a once in a lifetime opportunity to grow closer to my roots and discover my grandfather’s land and origins. I have fallen in love with Lebanon and I am truly grateful for this opportunity and will carry this experience in my heart and memory forever, together with all the amazing people I met in these two weeks. Now, it is my mission to continue to spread awareness about Lebanon, not only to the diaspora, but to Brazilians and every person I meet, because Lebanon is beautiful and a great country, of which I am really proud.
F.B.
Fabiana Bazhuni
Renee Sayegh
| Canada
My experience in Lebanon on this trip was extraordinary and I have the Maronite Academy to thank for that! I was completely astonished by the generous hospitality of the amazing Abi-Nader and Kabshi families who hosted us in their beautiful homes and treated us like family. Similarly, thanks to Mr. Amal Abou-Zeid for hosting a fabulous dinner overlooking a panoramic view of his hometown Jezzine! I am also forever grateful for the remarkable speakers who took the time to meet with us and talk about so many great emerging topics. Last but never the least, the team leaders, the organizers and the Maronite Academy board members, you guys are beyond incredible!! Year after year, you allow this program to take place, giving the chance to so many to experience Lebanon in such a fulfilling way... a thank you is NOT enough. As a first generation Lebanese, born and raised in Canada, you have my word to never forget Lebanon and to come back year after year. I would like to give a special shoutout to all the participants this year who made this experience as great as it was. Maronite Academy 2019, you will forever be in my heart.
R.S.
Renee Sayegh
Emily Atallah
| Canada
E.A.
Emily Atallah
Charbel Saade
| Canada
C.S.
Charbel Saade
Marissa Absi
| Canada
M.A.
Marissa Absi
Cynthia Sarkis
| Canada
I am grateful to the Maronite Academy for this dream trip. I’ve already been to Lebanon but this time, I was able to visit places I had never been to before and I met people I would never have had the chance to meet! It was an amazing experience with a lovely group of people that made me discover the beauty of Lebanon, the richness of sacred Christian sites and the kindness and generosity of its people. I was sad to leave the special, Lebanese friends from across the world that I made during the trip, but I’m glad to have left Lebanon cherishing beautiful and unforgettable memories. I am proud to be a Lebanese-Canadian.
C.S.
Cynthia Sarkis
Jose Tomas Juri
| Chile
Lebanon’s biggest and greatest export is its diaspora, which originated from the Phoenicians. For me, it is an enormous joy to be part of this history, even with so many similarities to my homeland, Chile. Chile is a long and narrow strip of land at the end of the world that had to fight for its freedom. It was lifted from natural scourges, and always stood on its feet and this reminds me of another strip of land in the Middle East. A nation, that like the cedar tree, rises a thousand times yearning to touch the sky and God has bestowed on its peoples' creativity, strength and ingenuity. My great-grandfather used to say that the Lebanese town of Araya was very similar to Chile. Looking back on this maybe it’s because the national anthem of the latter indicates that it is the "happy copy of Eden." I will return to Lebanon of and will do as my grandfather says "with happiness."
J.J.
Jose Tomas Juri
Juan Diego Sefair
| Colombia
I am very grateful with the Maronite Academy for allowed me to be part in this journey for meet my roots. it has been one of the best experiences in my life, I really appreciate the academy for this opportunity. There I felt accomplished, it was very interested the conferences with all the important people, also everything was very organized and well planed, all the plans were amazing, we could visit most of the famous places and It just left me that Lebanon is a wonderful country. The food was really delicious, everyday we had the opportunity to try new things and in the bankets were a lot of things that you started to become crazy because you just want to eat everything. The part of meet my family was incredible, because they told me more about Lebanon, about the history of our family and they recieved me with open arms, I felt very connected with each one. Furthermore the opportunity of learn from 90 person about their countries, and also I felt a connection with each person, I really appreciate everyone. Lebanon was unforgettable, I hope be there soon. Thank you for everything
J.S.
Juan Diego Sefair
Diana Kalil
| Colombia
This trip started almost a hundred years ago, when my ancestors left the beautiful land of Lebanon. I am the first of my entire family to come back to the homeland. We spent days under the Cedars, inside Byblos’ streets, along the Qadisha Valley, near Jounieh’s coastline and around the hills of Yahchouch. I felt the desire to know more, to go further, to visit new places. I'm already missing the beautiful weather, the friends I made, the Arabic ex<x>pressions and the hospitality of everyone I met. I was amazed with the hundreds of empty homes, and I was able to understand the absence that people feel in this little country. This was a once in a lifetime experience to me and I can’t wait to go back to feel complete again. Now I know that “We belong to Lebanon, to the mountains, caves and Cedars, and Lebanon belongs to us." A piece of my heart remains there. Until the next time! Merci ktir!
D.K.
Diana Kalil
Shantall Alam
| Dominican Republic
S.A.
Shantall Alam
Prisila El Hage
| Dominican Republic
P.H.
Prisila El Hage
Nubeluz Fadul
| Dominican Republic
N.F.
Nubeluz Fadul
Stephanie Yapur
| Ecuador
Since I was very little, I remember my grandparents speaking and singing to me in Arabic, teaching my sisters and me about who Saint Charbel was. In my family, we are used to speaking certain terms in Arabic between each other. I remember my childhood, living within the Lebanese diaspora in Ecuador. But it never crossed my mind that I would have the opportunity to go to Lebanon to meet and be proud of my roots. I am very grateful for the Maronite Academy because it allowed me to fulfill this dream. It allowed me to see that every Lebanese person is unique, whether inside or outside Lebanon. The Lebanese population was always caring, making us feel at home, showing us how beautiful the country is and how beautiful it can be to live in Lebanon. I would like to thank all those people met during my trip, because thanks to them my stay was more than special.
S.Y.
Stephanie Yapur
Michel Kammoun
| Ecuador
M..
Michel Kammoun
Jorge Farah
| Ireland
J.F.
Jorge Farah
Diana Aziz
| Italy
D.A.
Diana Aziz
Ana Helena Helue
| Mexico
If I had to choose just one word to describe my experience with the Maronite Academy, it would be “exceptional.” Before going to Lebanon, I was sure I would find a country full of culture and full of wonders, because of all the amazing stories I have heard since I was younger. But the truth is, no words can explain what I found there. I found a country full of beautiful and kind people, people who are proud of their country. I found a country full of beautiful and unique places, full of delicious food, full of nature and full of history. I left part of my heart in Lebanon and I cannot wait to go back and make new memories and experiences. My time there couldn’t have been better. Now, I am even more proud of my roots than I was before. I can finally say I have been to Lebanon and I have fallen in love with the country. My mission now is to spread the word among the youth, so they too can have this life changing experience. I now have Lebanese friends all around the world that have a huge place in my heart. I have nothing else to say, but thank you from the bottom of my heart the Maronite Academy. Thank you Lebanon for showing me that I also have a home on the other side of the world. Shukran Libnan!
A.H.
Ana Helena Helue
Jose Grayeb Cervantes
| Mexico
It has been 5 days since I left Lebanon and the only word in which I can describe my experience with the Academy is "incredible." From the first moment I stepped on the campus of USEK I knew it would be an unforgettable experience. The places were magical and unique from the monasteries to the Cedars of God. One can feel in the air the extraordinary and magnificence of each historical and holy site we visited. As for the food, they had never made me feel so in touch with my ancestors through gastronomy, knowing that my great grandfather ate what I was eating at that time and knowing that I was connected through culture. But the most important thing for me was the establishment of friendly relationships with people whom I share a past with. From Argentina to Australia, I met exceptional individuals who, in only two weeks, managed to occupy a place in my heart permanently. It is because of this that I express my deepest admiration and gratitude to the Academy for allowing me to see such unique places and meet such special people that created this connection with my roots. With all my heart, thank you.
J.C.
Jose Grayeb Cervantes
Nicole Kobeh
| Mexico
N.K.
Nicole Kobeh
Ana Paula Hawa
| Mexico
My time at the Maronite Academy was amazing, I’m very thankful for the opportunity that was given to me to visit my country and to rediscover my roots. During my time with the Academy I made many new friends from all over the world. Even if we have different cultures and ways of thinking, we all had one thing in common: our Lebanese origins and our love for Lebanon. During the Academy, apart from visiting all the touristic places, we got the opportunity to meet politicians, the president and even the Maronite patriarch. During these meetings, we got to know more abut Lebanon, its current status and where it is headed from senior officials. If I could, I would live this trip all over again without hesitating. I highly encourage anyone who is thinking about applying for the Maronite Academy to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I promise you won’t regret it.
A.H.
Ana Paula Hawa
Anuar Yusiff Saleme
| Mexico
A.S.
Anuar Yusiff Saleme
Suraya H Saab
| Mexico
Being in the land where my great-grandparents were born filled me with nostalgia and emotion to see that it was just as they told me. The warmth of its people, food and amazing history, are things that make Lebanon a unique country that has known how to stand up many times. Today, more than ever, I feel proud of my roots but never forgetting the country where I was born. I am very fortunate to be part of the two best countries in the world. I definitely want to go back to Lebanon; in the meantime, I will let the world know how magical and unique it is. Thank you Maronite Academy for bringing together so many people from different countries and showing us how beautiful Lebanon is. Thanks to all my new friends, you are all in my heart. Shukran, Liban ya habibi!
S.S.
Suraya H Saab
Daniel Peter (Naddaf)
| South Africa
Writing about my experience in the Maronite Academy in one testimonial is difficult, because a country so rich in culture and a community so vibrant deserves far greater accolades than I can communicate in a few hundred words. I think the best justice I can do with such brevity is to leave aside the more obviously amazing aspects of the Academy - like the activities, the food and the historical insight - and share one of the most affirming and nourishing experiences I’ve ever had. To be protected and included by a large group of people who share my heritage, my faith, and my culture was yet another iteration of the strength we find in community. This experience is, above all else, the most compelling motivation I can think of in encouraging other young Lebanese people to join the Academy. A prospective participant should rest assured that they will have an experience which is enriching, not only in the activities involved, but also in the affirmation they will receive from one of the world’s most remarkable communities.
D.(.
Daniel Peter (Naddaf)
Kiara Higino
| South Africa
I am Kiara Higino from South Africa, and as a first time visitor to Lebanon, I would just like to express my appreciation to Maronite Foundation in the World and the Maronite Foundation in South Africa. I’d to like to thank, in particular, Mr. Charles Hage, John Shalala and Nada Saad for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I would also like to thank Mrs. Hiam Boustani, Fr. Fadi Kmeid and all the assistants for arranging and organizing this trip that took us back to our roots. During my time in Lebanon, I had the privilege to visit some of the most amazing places, such as the of Cedars of God, St. Charbel, Chateau Ksara in Zahle and the majestic Baalbek Temple. I also visited Byblos and its amazing nightlife, while also having the opportunity to meet our Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai and President Michel Aoun, among others. Lebanon brought me great joy during my stay, giving me a broader look into its land and people, while allowing me to make memories that I will never forget and friendships I will cherish for life. During my two-week stay, I came to know Lebanon, not just as beautiful country, but as a country that I am proud to call home.
K.H.
Kiara Higino
David Karam
| South Africa
D.K.
David Karam
Alexandra Hanna Ougolnikova
| United Kingdom
A.O.
Alexandra Hanna Ougolnikova
Analaura Glion
| Uruguay
A.G.
Analaura Glion
Yianinna Abimorad
| Uruguay
Y.A.
Yianinna Abimorad
Juan Corazzo
| Uruguay
J.C.
Juan Corazzo
Peter Harb
| USA
The 2019 Maronite Academy trip to Lebanon sponsored by the Maronite Foundation in the World was one of the most incredible experiences, by far, that I have had ever had. Being a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience truly opened my eyes to my origins and roots. Being with almost 100 other youth from all over the world showed me that no matter where we were born or raised, we are all connected through our Lebanese heritage. Whether it is the delicious food, the incredible nightlife, the beautiful views, or the hospitable people, Lebanon is a place where each and every person feels welcome and feels like they belong. I have heard a lot about what Lebanon is like and how my ancestors lived from my family, but being able to actually see it for myself and experience a little bit of how my ancestors lived their day-to-day life takes it to a whole other level. The elegant art pieces, artifacts, and music show their creativity and abilities. The museums and inventions show their innovation and brilliance. The beautiful churches and devoted, holy saints show Lebanon’s love for God and commitment to goodness. Whether it is in Annaya, Diman, Beirut or Jbeil, Lebanon is a magnificent, charming country with a very rich, fascinating history. I was able to learn my roots, walk in the footsteps of my ancestors, and gain the tools to share Lebanon with the USA. I am so grateful to the Maronite Academy and the Maronite Foundation for this wonderful opportunity and for allowing me to truly be home.
P.H.
Peter Harb
Ana Sofia Meouchi
| USA
A.M.
Ana Sofia Meouchi
Sabine Maroun
| USA
Even though I was born in Lebanon and lived there until the age of 10, after moving to the United States, the idea of going back and seeing everything that Lebanon has to offer was almost like a dream. When the opportunity arose to explore Lebanon for two weeks with the Maronite Academy, it was surreal. I couldn't believe it! The two weeks spent in Lebanon with everyone was a dream come true. I do not use these words lightly when I say that exploring Lebanon with the Maronite Academy as well as learning about our Maronite roots and history was truly a blessing. To walk where the saints walked, to look up to the face of the Virgin Mary in Harissa and feel a sense of love, to literally walk through history and see the Roman ruins, to smell the cedar trees and admire their majestic size, to hike Qadisha Valley in all of its beauty, and of course, to feel the love and hospitality of everyone there is truly something that cannot be measured or explained. The experience was that of a lifetime. I have always been proud of my heritage, but the Maronite Academy gave me a strong sense of my roots. Thank you to everyone who worked tirelessly in putting this program together and in making sure we enjoyed our time in our country. This trip made me love Lebanon even more and it made me sure that it will not be long before I return again.
S.M.
Sabine Maroun
Tiana Michelle Boutros
| USA
T.B.
Tiana Michelle Boutros
Jude Bato
| USA
J.B.
Jude Bato
Virginia del Carmen Elsaghbiny Malave
| Venezuela
V.M.
Virginia del Carmen Elsaghbiny Malave
Victoria Yaber
| Venezuela
V.Y.
Victoria Yaber



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