The Maronite Academy 2016 Participants


Carolina Najla Kury Sánchez
| Dominican Republic
I can't find the words to describe this experience. The most incredible part is that it doesn't only connect you with your roots, but also with yourself. I felt like I always knew Lebanon and not only did I discover its charms, but i also felt my ancestors in every step of the way. The Academy shared all it's knowledge with us, introduced us to wonderful people and inspired us to protect our country and realize that it's future also depends on us. I think a simple thank you would not be enough.
C.S.
Carolina Najla Kury Sánchez
Michel Richa
| Canada
From connecting back with my home country, to visiting important historical places, to going out with the group and enjoying every second of it, the trip exceeded all of my expectation by a mile. With this experience I have so much more knowledge and a renewed love for Lebanon that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I can't thank enough all the people who organized this journey and those who stayed with us the entire time to make sure we didn't have to worry about a thing and that we enjoyed our selves to the fullest. It is amazing what two weeks can do to one's life. Transforming a group of forty strangers into one big family.
M.R.
Michel Richa
Marlen Dergal Abdo
| Mexico
I love everything related to Lebanon, as it is full of warm and hospitable people, every house you visit you feel right at home. This opportunity of being selected to go to Lebanon is one of my biggest dreams as i will be able to know the country of my great-grandparents, where they were born and learn more about my roots.
M.A.
Marlen Dergal Abdo
Maria Janet Achem
| Argentina
My two-week trip to Lebanon with the Maronite Academy, was amazing because I witnessed unforgettable things like the hospitality of the Lebanese people, their customs, culture, the beautiful landscapes, learning about my Maronite heritage and meeting lebanese young people from all over the world. The most important thing was that I could feel the presence of my ancestors in each place I visited. With each step I took, I wondered how much my grandfather would have loved to be back in his homeland ! So I think it was an enriching experience for my knowledge, my faith and my soul.
M.A.
Maria Janet Achem
Michelle Zalaquett
| Peru
This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I cannot be more thankful to the Maronite Academy for letting me take part of this adventure. I really had no idea of what to expect! "Free trip to Lebanon for two weeks!" It was too good to be true, but now after living this experience I can say it is TRUE! It has really been amazing to learn about my roots, the culture, the food, see where my family came from and actually walk on the land my grandparents came from! I made amazing friends from around the world that made this experience even better and that is for sure priceless! Lebanon is a country full of culture, amazing landscapes, delicious food and incredible people! I will never forget this trip and I will forever be grateful. Shukran!
M.Z.
Michelle Zalaquett
Leila Azzi
| Canada
Being part of the Academy 2016 i want to share my experiences and knowledge with other Canadian Lebanese to promote Lebanon and the Lebanese culture as well as assist all who want to register Lebnani.
L.A.
Leila Azzi
Jorge Zaiduni
| Bolivia
J.Z.
Jorge Zaiduni
Tárik Buchabqui
| Brazil
My two weeks trip to Lebanon with the Maronite Academy 2016 was an unforgettable opportunity. I always dreamed about getting closer to my Lebanese roots and exploring Lebanon, a small sized country but huge in its history. It was a complete journey with specialized seminars and awesome tours full of discoveries. I was amazed at the Lebanese hospitality, the cultural value learned and the beauty from the beaches to the mountains. One of the best experiences of my life was meeting for the first time my dear family in Lebanon and making a lot of new friends from all around the world, which I intend to keep for the rest of my life. I would like everyone of Lebanese descent to have the same rich experience, to know their Lebanese and Maronite heritage and return to their communities with the same pride that I am feeling now.
T.B.
Tárik Buchabqui
Victoria Seade
| Uruguay
I believe it is of great importance and it would be an honor for me to be part of the academic program of the Maronite Foundation. To my regard, it would be the best way not only to transmit knowledge and experience but also feel the land of my ancestors, which I dream about. It would also be a huge experience to share the trip with other young Lebanese descendants from different parts of the world. I feel great pride for Lebanon, not only for its privileged landscapes, but also for its cultural and social costumes that I am fond of.
V.S.
Victoria Seade
Anthony Georges
| Venezuela
It's amazing how only two weeks can change your life! And it is more amazing to know that you have 40 new brothers and sisters around the world! I can't thank God enough for letting me be part of this incredible experience, and to the Maronite Academy for allowing me to be part of this journey around my grandparents homeland, Lebanon and learn about my roots and my ancestors, and especially to have met my new friends, brothers and sisters from all over the world, for sharing with me all their knowledge and, of course, dancing and have fun with me all the time!
A.G.
Anthony Georges
Gabriela Jure Jacobo
| Mexico
The most beautiful things in life are not things, they are places, memories, people, feelings, smiles that you can't hide...I have no words to say thank you to Lebanon and Lebanese people for receiving us so generously, to my friends for sharing this amazing experience with me and of course to the Maronite Academy for giving me this unique opportunity in life, I learnt  a lot of each place we visited, of every person we met, now I feel prouder and closer to my roots and I encourage every young Lebanese to visit our country. This was my first time in Lebanon and definitely not the last.
G.J.
Gabriela Jure Jacobo
Camellia Taouk
| Australia
Joining the Maronite Academy would provide me the opportunity to meet other fellow diaspora from across the globe, where we would be united together over our mutual love for Lebanon. Through this journey with the Maronite Academy I want to deepen my understanding of what Lebanon has to offer, so that I could bring this back home and educate my family and friends of Lebanon’s true beauty. I want to learn more about claiming and preserving my Lebanese identity and feel closer to my Lebanese roots and discover the land of my ancestors. I would like the opportunity to understand and experience Lebanon from a historical, geographical, spiritual and social dimension/richness, and thus strengthen my understanding of the Maronite Heritage.
C.T.
Camellia Taouk
Denise Kuri
| Ecuador
I need to thank the Maronite Foundation for allowing me to connect with my roots, and to get me know the country where my grandfather was born. It has been a spectacular journey all over Lebanon, I never figured it would be such a memorable trip and that I would meet friends who now became like family! I enjoyed so much that lifetime trip that I miss the friends I met in Lebanon from all over the world every single day! Thank you to the Maronite Foundation and to the Maronite Academy who made this dream come true, and for all those who are reading my testimonial please sign up you will not regret it! It has been the best trip of my life…
D.K.
Denise Kuri
Miguel Angel Gaitan Fernandez
| Mexico
Being in Lebanon reminded me that wherever I go, I will keep this country in my heart and veins, so as long as I live its culture and traditions would remain forever engraved in memory; But there’s a land, there’s a perfume, there’s a landscape and there are faces that I encountered…. I can’t take them all with me, so if I want to preserve them I should return back and take part in its history, the same way they took part of mine, and make a change. Being of Lebanese descent is not a random fact! Our ancestors left their homeland and tried hard to ensure the future of their descendants. When I came to Lebanon I realized I that the only way to thank them is by preserving our roots and our history. I felt really blessed and proud of being Lebanese. It was so strange to come back to Mexico and I felt deracinated after my trip. I am highly grateful to have being able to partake in this unique lifetime experience.
M.F.
Miguel Angel Gaitan Fernandez
Gloria Eid
| Canada
Thank you again for such an unforgettable trip. Having been home for only a few days now, it's hard to believe that so much happened in such a short two weeks with the program and another week with family in Lebanon. Having been given the opportunity to connect to my roots, learn about the history and current state of Lebanon and its people, and meet other Lebanese descendants from across the world is truly a dream that I could never have imagined happening to me. Every time I think about my experience with the Maronite Academy , I feel overwhelmed and blessed. I felt so safe and taken care of by the Maronite Academy and I am so grateful for all the time, energy, and planning that the organizers took to make the program a truly seamless, enriching, loving, and happy time for all of us. To have been able to meet my family for the first time because of the Maronite Academy was a chance of a lifetime and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity. I am closer now to my roots, I am connected to my dear cousins and family living in Lebanon, and because of the experience that Maronite Academy offered to me, I am building an incredible relationship with my newly-met family in Lebanon whom I know I will continue to connect with and visit again and again. A million thank yous. The opportunity to experience Lebanon for the first time with the Maronite Academy has changed my life for the better and I would recommend this program with all of my heart.
G.E.
Gloria Eid
Timothy Mikhail
| Canada
I would love to visit Lebanon and breath the air that countless generations have and to learn of my roots in faith and culture. It is one thing to hear about and live your heritage in a mitigated way in Canada, but it is quite another to visit the original homeland itself. Besides learning about my heritage, having learned about the registration process it will give me the necessary boost in experience and knowledge to assist those whom I know would like to register as Lebanese but who do not know how or who need encouragement to do so.
T.M.
Timothy Mikhail
Christine Abi-Abdallah
| USA
The two weeks I spent touring all of Lebanon were beyond amazing. I was so blessed to have been able to come with the Maronite Academy and meet great people of Lebanese descent from around the whole world. This has been an experience of a lifetime; one I will never forget. I'll see you again soon Lebanon
C.A.
Christine Abi-Abdallah
Melanie Ghantous
| Canada
This trip with the Maronite academy means the world to me since I have never visited Lebanon and have no family there. I would love to give back to my beautiful country in every way possible through the light of Christ!
M.G.
Melanie Ghantous
Maria Hind Sarkis
| UK
I am engaging in the Maronite Academy process because I have a strong desire to reconnect with my people and heritage, to help with my efforts where possible, and to learn more.
M.S.
Maria Hind Sarkis
Anastasie Najem
| Canada
To anyone reading this testimony, I hope that by reading these few lines you will understand why I fell in love with Lebanon for the first time this year. As a matter of fact, I have visited this country many times during my life but this time was incomparable to the previous ones for many reasons. First, it is definitely a miracle of God how people from all around the world can meet for the first time and after two weeks cry as if they knew each other for years. The bonds that were created between my new friends and I are like seeds of different flowers that mixed together to create a new beautiful flower of its own kind. A very precious flower. Today, I have cousins all around the world, and a lifetime to visit them again. Second, I have never visited my mother land this way: so much learning, explanations, discoveries and realisations blew my mind. During every visit, I could feel my ancestors walking on the same ground, I could imagine them working hard to build a country that turned out to be one of the most beautiful land in the world. Lebanon has its issues but believe my that everything I saw showed me that this country in itself is a miracle. Lebanon is like a Phoenix that reborn from its ashes every time it is hit down. I could go on for many pages if I wanted to say everything I have learned during this trip but I will end by telling you what I felt. I felt goosebumps in front of the beauty of our mountains and churches, I felt inspiration and tension during the conferences, I felt happiness during all the moments I laughed with my friends and I felt love for my country. I am ashamed that I used to claim that I am Lebanese without knowing about my roots. I am now more aware of what it is to be Lebanese, but most importantly I am proud. “Man equity of being Lebanese is very high (Hicham Hage)”, and after this trip, I can say that I know why.
A.N.
Anastasie Najem
Julien Nachar
| France
The two weeks with the foundation will be carved in my mind forever. I discovered another side of Lebanon which I knew only in the photographs and my parents stories. I was able to discover the country of my ancestors by myself and expand my Lebanese culture. All the places we visited, the landscapes and the people helped me connect with my roots… It was something sensational!! During this trip, I met amazing people who will stay my friends forever, and who I can never forget! These people who touched my heart i can't thank them enough for the memorable moments. I love you guys. I would like to thank all the people who made this trip possible. Youssef Douaihy who has brought me into the foundation. Sister Michelle for being there all the time during the two weeks. Abouna Fadi for sharing his knowledge about Lebanon with us and his sense of humor. Robert for all those moments of laughter, his stories and evenings. Hiam Boustani and Souad Rizkallah for everything they did for us. To all the people who have the opportunity of going to Lebanon with the foundation but hesitate, I have only one thing to tell you : Go ahead. It's an enriching journey, this kind of opportunity arises only once in a lifetime and which marks you forever ! From the bottom of my heart, Thank you all
J.N.
Julien Nachar
Chantal Obeid
| Canada
I would like to thank the Maronite Academy for everything they have done during our stay in Lebanon. When I first learned that I had won the trip, I did not expect to live this once in a lifetime experience. During these two weeks, we got the chance to reconnect with our roots by visiting amazing sights and historical places. Everywhere we visited blew our minds, including the history behind it all. We had the chance to see how beautiful Lebanon truly is. Additionally, we had the opportunity to learn more about our country with the conferences we attended, without forgetting about all of the amazing people from all around the world we met, which made this experience even more unique. Now, it is safe to say that I have created unbreakable bonds and friendships with different people from different countries that I know will never die. I am grateful and thankful that I got to live such an amazing experience with people that will forever stay close to my heart. Finally, I strongly encourage anyone who has the desire to learn about where they come from to give this incredible experience a try. Not only did I learn about my country during this trip, but I discovered new things about myself.
C.O.
Chantal Obeid
Gabriel Sawaya
| Australia
My goal for joining the Maronite Academy is to explore and gain a greater understand of the role of the Maronite Community in shaping the Lebanese landscape in the past and present. In addition I wish to explore the cultural and religion history of my paternal grandmother; as she has been a devoted Maronite throughout her life. As a mark of respect for her heritage I wish to explore the history of her people further.
G.S.
Gabriel Sawaya
Micheline Khalil
| Canada
My goal in visiting Lebanon is to be able to explore the history of my country through my own eyes and to bond even deeper with my Lebanese roots and Maronite heritage. Although I consider myself a proud Christian Lebanese, this admiration for Lebanon has only developed because of 3rd hand stories from family and friends. I believe that having the opportunity to visit Lebanon in this life changing trip with individuals who are searching for the same result, I would have an even better perspective and love for my Lebanon.
M.K.
Micheline Khalil
Joe Azzi
| Canada
J.A.
Joe Azzi
Joseph Abdullah
| Australia
J.A.
Joseph Abdullah
Sarah Bachir
| France
S.B.
Sarah Bachir
Samar Milan
| Canada
S.M.
Samar Milan
Elias Moukarzel
| France
E.M.
Elias Moukarzel
Roxanne Elhachem
| USA
I don’t even know where to begin writing about the two weeks I spent with the Maronite Academy because words aren’t enough. All I can say is that I am so grateful to have had the honor of participating on this trip. We were a group of young adults who came from all over the world to our homeland and became a family. From sightseeing and exploring with new friends to learning more about our Maronite faith, it was a trip of a lifetime. Lebanon was a place I had only heard about and seen as a child, but after this trip, my love for it has skyrocketed and I am so grateful for the Maronite Academy. Thank you for allowing me to partake in this unforgettable trip and reconnecting me with my roots. I've seen and learned so much and I encourage everyone who can to apply for this incredible experience; you will not be disappointed!
R.E.
Roxanne Elhachem
Alik Chahin
| Mexico
A.C.
Alik Chahin
Joseph Seif
| USA
The Maronite Academy has been one of the greatest experiences I've ever been a part of. I'm very grateful and appreciative of the opportunity they provided me with a fantastic and memorable trip to Lebanon. The ability to connect with so many other Lebanese Maronites from so many different countries has left such an impression and unforgettable bond between me and the other Academy participants as well as with our motherland, Lebanon. The 2 week program was filled with a great curriculum. We saw so many historical sights such as Baalbek, Beit Ed Din, Rouche and we got to meet the Patriarch and have mass with him on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. We even planted a cedar tree in the Ariz and hiked the valley of Qadisha. We also had lectures during the day to better understand what is happening in Lebanon and the importance of never forgetting our roots, even if we are abroad. We can't lose touch with our Lebanese heritage and must spread the word that Lebanon is still a very beautiful country, with so much to offer. I want to thank everyone involved with the Maronite Academy for organizing, educating, and making us see Lebanon in the most eye opening and hospitable way possible. In addition to the connection made with Lebanon, the friendships and memories created with my fellow Academy participants while exploring the different cities and sights will last forever and never be forgotten.
J.S.
Joseph Seif
Frances Zaidan
| Australia
F.Z.
Frances Zaidan
Andrés Raad
| Ecuador
A.R.
Andrés Raad




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