The Maronite Academy 2018 Participants


Daniel Avena
| Argentina
This trip to Lebanon with the Maronite Academy was a unique experience. I was able to see my grandfather's house and meet few relatives... The variety of places and experiences gave me the opportunity to discover the fascinating country of the Cedars under a new light. As Pope Francis stated: “You all, in a special way, are called to serve everyone as brothers, above all feeling like everyone's brothers. Supporting each other using what you've learned, act so that Lebanon always practices its vocation as a light for the region's people and a sign of peace that comes from God.” I hope we will keep up supporting each other’s so that future generations rejoice in Lebanon in peace and prosperity.
D.A.
Daniel Avena
Gabriela María Assaf
| Argentina
G.A.
Gabriela María Assaf
Anabella Parané
| Argentina
Thank you for the Maronite Foundation and for the Academy for giving us this opportunity to experience Lebanon in a unique and magical way. Meeting you all for the first time within this group of friends was overwhelming. No doubt, it changed our life, especially that now we have a clearer idea of the Lebanon where we belong. Each one of you has now a special place in my heart.
A.P.
Anabella Parané
Maria Sofia Farhat
| Argentina
The end of an incredible experience that exceeded my expectations widely! Lebanon is a unique country. Not only for its history, spirituality, varied landscapes, exquisite cuisine. Also for their people, hospitality and reception! The trip deeply connected us with our roots; it was a permanent reminder to our grandparents, families and relatives! It also helped us understanding certain traditions and customs that we have been carrying a long time ago! Thanks to the Maronite Foundation, for making it possible and especially the yallaguys! Sharing this experience with such cool people, made it even more special! Love you so much! It was my first time; I hope it will not be the last one!
M.F.
Maria Sofia Farhat
Samir Massud
| Argentina
Thank you so much Lebanon... I am speechless and I don’t have enough words to describe this country... the warmth and the affection of its people, and the best gastronomy in the world. Lots of learning opportunities, an amazing culture and lots of magic everywhere you walk, in every single corner!
S.M.
Samir Massud
Walter Naufe
| Argentina
This dream of traveling to Lebanon was not common. It was not only about tourism but also a chance to explore Lebanon. This endeavor made me live unforgettable moments that will always remain in my heart and my memories. I hope that this visit will be repeated soon. In fact, I see things differently and there has been a big change in my life because I have achieved a dream: to get know the land of my ancestors. This trip to Lebanon enlightened me and I was so happy to experience it. Thank God, for making this dream comes true. This dream of traveling to Lebanon was not normal Not just tourism but a chance and a different test Thank you for giving me this occasion and this project has been left in the best memories I walked on footsteps of St. Charbel, visited historical places, the Lady of Lebanon, the Lady of Mantara where the Virgin Mary was waiting for Jesus, as well as Tyre and Sidon to name a few. I prayed where St. Charbel and Saint Rafa prayed themselves. I enjoyed the splendor of the Jeita grotto and we planted a cedar tree. Finally, we were privileged to visit the most influential figures of Lebanon: President General Michel Aoun, Patriarch El Rahi and Abbot Neehmatallah Hashem. I got to know better the Lebanese citizens and enjoyed tasting the Lebanese food . I was overwhelmed to meet my family and to have lunch with them in the Chouf and in Byblos, which makes speechless to describe how I felt. A big thank you to all of you, namely: Father Fadi, Mrs.Boustani, Nancy, Sarine Maria and the ladies who helped us meet my grandparents. Warm regards from the heart.
W.N.
Walter Naufe
James Estephan
| Australia
J.E.
James Estephan
Anthony Chebaia
| Australia
A.C.
Anthony Chebaia
Peter-Louie Boutros
| Australia
P.B.
Peter-Louie Boutros
Adella Beaini
| Australia
Imagine to be given the opportunity to walk, eat, and experience a country that your parents, grandparents, and ancestors once did. Imagine walking into saints’ houses, where they spent their whole life until the very end. Imagine eating the best food in the world, as you walk along the footpath that has survived for thousands of years. Imagine seeing the Roman ruins that were built thousands of years ago, and be taken back to the ancient world. Well, you do not have to imagine. This is the real Lebanon, the land of your ancestor, which is waiting for you. Hence, the trip with the Academy was not only a privilege, but also I had the chance to be with my sister and brother who joined me at their own expenses and we lived this unique experience altogether. On behalf of the Beaini family, we really do want to thank you for giving us an opportunity that we will never forget. We are ready to take advantage of what we learned and to start helping and encouraging other Lebanese people in Sydney to claim their Lebanese citizenship, and to reconnect with their homeland. Be proud of your roots, because Lebanon is proud of you!
A.B.
Adella Beaini
Tania Saba
| Australia
I would like to thank the Maronite Foundation, USEK and all the wonderful people behind the Maronite Academy 2018 team! I had an amazing spiritual and cultural experience that I will never forget. It is important that we do not forget our Maronite heritage and the Maronite Academy certainly enforced this concept. Thank you and live, love LEBANON! 
T.S.
Tania Saba
Christine Nader
| Australia
C.N.
Christine Nader
Rita Nicolas
| Australia
R.N.
Rita Nicolas
Ashleigh Habkouk
| Australia
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.
A.H.
Ashleigh Habkouk
Jhonny Dipp
| Bolivia
J.D.
Jhonny Dipp
Letícia Delgado
| Brazil
L.D.
Letícia Delgado
Christopher Dagher
| Canada
" First and foremost, I cannot begin to describe the gratitude that I feel for the organizing committee behind this wonderfully orchestrated two-week educational trip that I had the chance to be part of. I wanted to take this opportunity not only to learn and appreciate Lebanon's culture but also to make an impact by contributing with a solid input from my part by assisting the Maronite Foundation in the future. In all honesty, I feel that I have evolved into a more knowledgeable and cultivated person but more importantly, this renewed attachment to my roots really turned me into a better Lebanese. Most notably, the places we visited in Lebanon such as Jeita, Byblos and Baalbeck have marked me just as much as the natural views I had the privilege to explore. Especially, the churches and monasteries that we visited that truly highlight the religious side of Lebanon and will never be forgotten. In addition, the new bonds that I have fostered with my fellow peers from abroad throughout this journey will be dearly treasured. On a final note, I wish that many more youth of Lebanese descent will have the chance to live this once-in-a-lifetime experience and share their testimonies and memories with their folks back home. "
C.D.
Christopher Dagher
Rachel Frem
| Canada
R.F.
Rachel Frem
Jessica Khalil
| Canada
The Maronite Academy trip has been such an amazing experience for me because it allowed me to learn about my country's history. The international connections and friendships we made were incredible.With participants from all over the world, we all became a family and got to share our Lebanese pride. This experience truly made me even more proud of my roots and enhanced my love for Lebanon with every site we visited, every conference we attended and every meal we shared. It was a confirmation that Lebanese people are so welcoming and have an amazing joie-de-vivre. I would not have been able to fully experience the beauty of Lebanon without this trip! I need to thank the Maronite Foundation and the Academy team for offering this opportunity to us and I truly appreciate all the efforts towards this educational and fun initiative. Lebanon is proud of you, be proud of your roots!
J.K.
Jessica Khalil
Serina Gabriel Khater Khater
| Canada
What an amazing experience to be able to see and learn about Lebanon with like-minded Maronites from all over the world. This program left me better equipped to educate others about the Lebanese citizenship and has instilled in me a deep longing to continue returning to Lebanon. Thank you to the Maronite Academy for this truly memorable experience.
S.K.
Serina Gabriel Khater Khater
Mariana Merhej
| Canada
M.M.
Mariana Merhej
Nancy Bechaalani
| Canada
N.B.
Nancy Bechaalani
Theresa Boueiry
| Canada
I am so honored and blessed to have lived this experience. No matter how much I tell people about this experience, it will never be enough. It was truly amazing as I discovered Lebanon in a unique way. We visited many cultural and religious places such as the National Museum, the Mim Museum, Beirut Souks, Beirut Churches, Our Lady of Ilige, Mar Charbel, Beiteddine, Deir el Qamar, Baalbeck, Our Lady of Maghdouché, the Cedars Forest, Qadicha Valley, Jeita Grotto, Harissa and many more. We also had the privilege to meet many important figures such as the President General Michel Aoun, the Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, the president of the Maronite Foundation and the deputy H. E. Neemat Frem. The best part of this trip was spending time with youth coming from more than 11 different countries around the world, of Lebanese roots that I can now proudly call family. I would like to thank the Maronite Foundation for the best two weeks of my life. My message to every person that is Lebanese Maronite is to be proud of their roots and to maintain their presence inside and outside Lebanon.
T.B.
Theresa Boueiry
Maria Jose Monge
| Ecuador
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.
M.M.
Maria Jose Monge
Isabel Chediak
| Ecuador
Everything started with a Facebook Ad. After applying three times, I finally got the chance to visit Lebanon for the first time ever. Getting to know my father’s country of origin has made this trip one of the most special of my life. Spending time with people coming from different countries around the world of Lebanese roots has been amazing. In two weeks, we explored touristic places, attended conferences, prayed and learned about the importance of our roles in our country of residence. Two weeks that took several months of preparation, hard work and commitment. Two weeks that change you forever. I encourage all the youth to apply and be persistent, to give themselves the opportunity to come back to our ancestor’s land. Lebanon is proud of you, be proud of your roots! I cheer the 2018 class to keep working in their own countries to promote our roots and heritage. We have to be committed to be real ambassadors to help more youth apply and obtain the Lebanese citizenship.
I.C.
Isabel Chediak
Patricia Moussalem
| France
P.M.
Patricia Moussalem
Sarah Mahfouz
| France
I thank the organizers of the Maronite Foundation and the Maronite Academy for this unforgettable experience. I was very honored to have been able to participate in this program. USEK Kaslik has opened the doors of its prestigious university. We had this chance to reconnect with our roots. We all came from different countries, in order to gather around a common place, which is Lebanon, our country. As a Maronite, I was very proud and satisfied during this very intense and emotional journey, where I gained experience, cultural and religious knowledge. I learnt a great deal about the land I come from, the land where my parents were born, grew up and had to leave because of the war. But all this didnt stop me from staying connected to my origins and having faith in my religion and those thanks to you: the Maronite Foundation and all the people who contribute in the Academy endeavor. Thanks to you I spent the best 2 weeks in Lebanon, I met great people from different countries and cultures. I also learnta lot thanks to Father Fady who was our dedicated guide and team leader to different places and sites. During this trip I spoke French, English, Arabic and even Spanish. We were a supportive group, happy and caring to each other. Thank you for all my Academy fellows for being there, you were at the top. A big thank you to Maronite Academy, I hope now to be better able to strengthen Franco-Lebanese ties with our diaspora. I will never forget where I come from.
S.M.
Sarah Mahfouz
Benjamin Derrar
| France
B.D.
Benjamin Derrar
Marc Wakim
| France
M.W.
Marc Wakim
Paulina Delgado
| Mexico
Ever since I was a little kid, I´ve always heard amazing stories about Lebanon from my uncles and grandparents. However, this summer thanks to the Maronite Academy I had the opportunity to explore Lebanon by myself. Now I totally understand why my family speaks fondly about my homeland. At the end of this trip, I really can say that I felt bonded with my roots. As the patriarch told us, "Identity is a window to universality.” I could finally find mine. Also, I met a lot of amazing people that became good friends; I hope this friendship will last forever, as despite the fact that we all come from different countries, we have this amazing culture that unite us. Lebanon exceeded my expectations, it´s an amazing place that everyone deserves to discover, the way the Maronite academy presented it to us in two weeks. Thank you for this unforgettable experience.
P.D.
Paulina Delgado
Salma Saab Bitar
| Mexico
We were always asked where we were originally from; when we answered “from Lebanon", the next enforced question would be “and have you been there?". Now the answer to that question would be “Yes!! I have been to Lebanon; it was the best experience of my life; The Landscape, the places, the delicious food, the historical landmarks, the people, the peace they communicate. Lebanon itself, is a unique experience, anyone can ever live. Let alone the people I had the fortune to meet, coming from different countries, having different ages, different languages and different education and culture, but all proud of their Lebanese roots. All I can say is thank you. Thank you to everyone who supported this idea of traveling and helped me make it happen. Thank you to all who fund this project and thanks to all those who were with me these 15 days living this unique experience.
S.B.
Salma Saab Bitar
Scharbel Jung Hanna
| Russia
This year I had the honor and the pleasure to attend the Maronite Academy 2018. I reconnected with my roots, which encouraged me to become an ambassador for Lebanon. I was privileged to be part of the Maronite Academy’s Educational trip. The conferences and trips were very enriching; they have built up my knowledge about Lebanon’s history and culture. I am so grateful to the Maronite Academy for giving me this opportunity; it really changed my life and the way of seeing things. I hope someday I will have the chance to come back to Lebanon and to get to learn a little bit more about my homeland. I hope as well I can serve my country by investing in it in the future, as I see Lebanon as a country full of hope, and opportunities. On the behalf of all the Hanna and the Hobeika families, I would like to thank again the Maronite Foundation and the Academy for all what they have done for me and for the group. I recommend this experience to all the people of Lebanese descent.
S.H.
Scharbel Jung Hanna
Tanna Rahme
| South Africa
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.
T.R.
Tanna Rahme
Odette Manachi
| South Africa
O.M.
Odette Manachi
Maribelle Assaad Boutros
| USA
M.B.
Maribelle Assaad Boutros
Zachary Hatem
| USA
Z.H.
Zachary Hatem
Celine Asmar
| USA
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.
C.A.
Celine Asmar
George Saadi
| USA
G.S.
George Saadi
Yessika Violette Yibirin Farah
| Venezuela
Since I was a child, I have participated in representative activities of our Arab culture, highlighting the customs and values that represent us in Venezuela. I was so proud to be selected by the Maronite Foundation and thus be able visit Lebanon with the Maronite Academy. I acquired during this trip more knowledge experiences and I will apply them within my community. I spent memorable moments in Qadisha valley, Baalebeck, the Cedars, Chouf, St Rafqa and Hardini... These places will remain engraved in my heart forever.
Y.F.
Yessika Violette Yibirin Farah




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