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
Jessica Bouzeid
| Canada
My heart is so full. I could not have dreamed of a better to way to experience Lebanon for the very first time. This trip has been a blessing from start to finish and I am so grateful to have been chosen to be a part of it. The knowledge I have gained and the friends I have made in this beautiful country will be cherished forever. I am so proud of my roots. Thank you to the Maronite Academy and the Maronite Foundation for making my dream come true. This truly is a once in a lifetime experience. Lebanon had, has and will forever have my heart.
J.B.
Jessica Bouzeid
Joyce Jeitani El Maaraoui
| Venezuela
I hope that by reading these few lines you will understand why I fell in love with Lebanon for the first time this year. I have visited this country many times during my life but this time was incomparable to the previous ones for many reasons. First, I have never visited my land this way: explanations, so much learning and discoveries. I felt goosebumps in front of the beauty of our mountains and churches, I felt inspiration during the conferences, I felt happiness during all the moments I laughed with my friends and I felt love for my country. Second, it is definitely a miracle 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. Today, I have cousins all around the world, and a lifetime to visit them again. Finally, all I can say is that I am so grateful to have had the honor of participating on this trip. 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 to take part in this incredible experience: you will not be disappointed!
J.M.
Joyce Jeitani El Maaraoui
José Antonio Stefanoni Abdala
| Mexico
J.A.
José Antonio Stefanoni Abdala
Eddie Moujalli
| Australia
What can I say! Those two weeks went by so quickly. In those two weeks, I met the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. These friends that I met on the trip turned into family within two weeks. This trip was an eye opener for me, and for everyone else to realize that Lebanon is actually the most amazing country. To my family all over the world: Thank you guys for everything. And, to the Maronite Academy, thank you for having me.
E.M.
Eddie Moujalli
Ralph Abou-Chedid
| Canada
R.A.
Ralph Abou-Chedid
Charbel El-Khaissi
| Australia
C.E.
Charbel El-Khaissi
Zeina Akl
| USA
Z.A.
Zeina Akl
Amanda Jereige
| USA
A.J.
Amanda Jereige
Zamira Canaan Ceron
| Mexico
Z.C.
Zamira Canaan Ceron
Mark Tamer
| Canada
M.T.
Mark Tamer
Alexia Fatima Nasif
| Argentina
A.N.
Alexia Fatima Nasif
María Mónica Daniela Amin
| Argentina
M.A.
María Mónica Daniela Amin
Wadett Semaan
| Australia
The 2017 Maronite Academy trip was a truly enriching experience, both culturally and spiritually. The trip was a perfect combination of learning about the Maronite and Lebanese faith, culture, and history, as well as the various contributions the Maronites have made not only to Lebanon but to the rest of the world. I made friends and connections with fellow participants from 13 countries around the world, as we bonded together and attended the seminars at USEK, run by various Lebanese individuals, who shared their skills and experience from their wide-ranging professions. The seminars were thought provoking, inspiring and culturally enriching. We learned, among other things, how our ancestors, the Phoenicians, created the alphabet and pioneered global trade. We also learned how the Lebanese Maronites have survived persecution for centuries, to currently flourish on an international level in almost every profession. I was able to visit the first law school in the world, see the breathtaking Baalbek ruins, which date back two thousand years and walk in the Holy Qadisha Valley located in North Lebanon. I also danced and partied with fellow participants, dined in charming restaurants and explored Lebanon in the company of knowledgeable tour guides. This trip allowed me to reflect on what makes me who I am, the significance of my Lebanese heritage to my Australian identity and how I can continue to contribute to the international community at large, by representing the Lebanese community in a positive way. I highly recommend this trip to individuals of Lebanese descent, as I learned more reasons to be proud of my heritage and will be forever thankful for the opportunity to participate in this truly life-changing program.
W.S.
Wadett Semaan
Renee Roumanos
| Australia
R.R.
Renee Roumanos
Richard Chemaly
| South Africa
R.C.
Richard Chemaly
Elham Moubarak
| Australia
E.M.
Elham Moubarak
Rafaa Salwa Giorgina Georges Quintin
| Colombia
The trip with the Maronite Academy to Lebanon was not only an educational trip, it was an also an emotional one. Not only did it increase my knowledge about the Maronites, the Lebanese, their culture, their history, and everything they represent, but it also strengthened my love and sense of belonging to my roots. All these unforgettable experiences that not only enriched me but also allowed me to better inform and educate everyone, who like me, is of Lebanese and Maronite heritage.
R.Q.
Rafaa Salwa Giorgina Georges Quintin
Natália Moreira
| Brazil
N.M.
Natália Moreira
Pauline Marie Zaiter Tahan
| Dominican Republic
Incredible to think that in two weeks I met amazing people that will always be in my heart, people that marked me and helped me reconnect deeper to my roots. Thank you to the Maronite Academy for creating memorable moments. I will always be thankful for the love, dedication, and patience you gave us. Words cannot describe the joy I had with you.
P.T.
Pauline Marie Zaiter Tahan
Daniel Harb
| Australia
D.H.
Daniel Harb
Ana Florencia Apud
| Argentina
The Maronite Academy 2017 trip was an opportunity to get to know Lebanon in a special way. With every visit we made and each discussion we had about our roots, we could see that our education, our customs, our ways of doing small things in our respective countries today, came from Lebanon. This proved to us once again that our roots are from this place and that we belong to this place. Personally, when hearing the talks and living the moments, I felt immense pride on being Lebanese. We didn't visit a new country, but rather we visited OUR country, the land that was waiting for us. Most importantly, I understand today that I have to be a role model within the Diaspora community, I started sharing my positive experience and now many foreign friends are already planning some trips to Lebanon. Lebanon is really a country blessed by God. The people in the Maronite Academy and Maronite Foundation are doing extraordinary work for Lebanon. I'm very grateful to them for giving us such a wonderful experience and I hope that the next group of young people will feel the same way.
A.A.
Ana Florencia Apud
Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya
| USA
F.S.
Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya
Jospeh Sidaoui
| Canada
The Maronite Academy 2017 was the trip of a lifetime. For someone like me, who had never been to Lebanon, I cannot imagine visiting my country under any better circumstances. Due to numerous reasons, I have been disconnected from the Lebanese community during my life. These 2 weeks with the Academy made me reconnect with my roots and made me miss being part of the Lebanese community that I now consider as one REALLY BIG family!
J.S.
Jospeh Sidaoui
Jana Chalhoub
| Australia
The Maronite Academy trip was truly the adventure of a lifetime. There were moments on that trip where I honestly felt that I had experienced the pinnacle of happiness. The diversity of all the personalities made for a truly unique experience, I had laughed more on that trip than I have in my whole life. We dined at the finest restaurants, the tour guides taught us so much about Lebanese history, we met the renowned journalist, Marcelle Ghanem and we visited all the famed Lebanese landmarks. This trip was more than a touristic experience, it was a pilgrimage. I am a better, happier person for it and I thank the Academy for its efforts and commitment to preserving Maronite heritage.
J.C.
Jana Chalhoub
Miguel Barciona
| Ecuador
M.B.
Miguel Barciona
Elie Khalil
| USA
These past few weeks have been the best weeks I have ever spent in my life. I met many wonderful people and reconnected with friends and family in my home country. Thank you to all who made it possible. Thank you to the Maronite Academy.
E.K.
Elie Khalil
Giorgos Mousa
| Greece
G.M.
Giorgos Mousa
Tamara Azzam
| Canada
The Maronite academy has given me the opportunity to know more about my country, about my roots and, most importantly, about myself. Spending these two weeks with exceptional people, that I now consider family, has been a true blessing in my life. One thing I have learned for sure on this trip is that Lebanon has been and will always be my home. I am now, more than ever, proud to be Lebanese.
T.A.
Tamara Azzam
Carine Youssef
| Canada
C.Y.
Carine Youssef
Melissa Elias Zamorano
| Bolivia
Lebanon is a country full of love, culture, history, courage, beautiful places and amazing people. It is a country that teaches you to fight to improve and to become a better person. It is a country with rich history and I feel blessed to have this opportunity to reconnect myself with my roots and to discover the homeland of my grandparents. In our lives, we have experiences that change us and this trip is one of them. This two-week trip was not only full of adventures and learning it was also a spiritual journey. I will always keep in my heart and in my mind all the memories and adventures I had. I made a lot of friends from different countries who in the course of two weeks became family. My dear Maronite Academy, words are not enough to thank you for everything and for making my dream come true.
M.Z.
Melissa Elias Zamorano
Eliana Pereyra Alam
| Bolivia
Traveling is always a beautiful collection of great moments, however having the opportunity to travel to Lebanon is without any doubt, a life changing experience which I will never forget. Until now, I hadn't realized how necessary it is to connect with your roots, your family, your food and your people, because even though I consider myself as Latin American I grew up and have been raised by a Lebanese family. That’s why I've always found it hard to feel as comfortable in my country as I felt in Lebanon. I’m really grateful to the Maronite Academy for offering me this experience in which I’ve learned about Lebanon more than in my whole lifetime. This trip allowed me to discover the perfect combination of West and East, being part of a country in which greatest civilizations have left traces of their own culture. This has made Lebanon an incredibly rich mix of art, music, food, religion and values, the perfect amalgam of a great civilization. I feel more than proud to be part of this marvelous culture, and I hope every Lebanese that lives abroad will be able to have this once in a lifetime experience.
E.A.
Eliana Pereyra Alam




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