Learning in Lebanon... Learing about Lebanon... Learning about Learning... Learning about Life

This site is about my experiences and thoughts as a visiting professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

Early in 2009 I was privileged to receive an Australian Endeavour Executive Award for placement at AUB from October to December 2009.

I've come to Lebanon with a number of specific objects, including:

# To build links between AUB and the University of South Australia (UniSA), where I work as an academic developer;

# To research concepts of scholarship and the ways in which academics engage with the Scholarship of Teaching in an Arab context;

#To exchange ideas and approaches to Teaching and Learning with my colleagues at AUB; and

# To better understand the ways in which an institution like AUB fosters student and social inclusivity.

My disciplinary background is in "Near Eastern Studies", with a special interest in the Syriac New Testament and the history of the Eastern Church. Hence, being in Lebanon will hopefully afford some great opportunities to explore various avenues of interest in those areas.

I will be posting articles on these topics, and probably a few others as well. Needless to say, I am responsible for the opinions expressed on this site, and such opinions do not purport to represent the views of AUB, UniSA or of the Endeavour Awards program.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beirut a culture capital

The article reproduced below is taken from the AUB corporate web page
(see: http://www.aub.edu.lb/news/archive/preview.php?id=100422).
Author: Henry Matthews, Editor, Office of Communications, AUB.

I attended this presentation last week. Though a general survey, Mr Salam made some valid points about the historical and contemporary role of Beirut in integrating cultures of the region with those of the West. One point he made that deserves further consideration, is that cultural diversity or 'freedom', far from destabilising, actually enhanced Beirut's ability to adapt to the enormous challenges faced by Lebanon, especially over the last thirty years. The claim is not without merit, though I suspect that there remains a significant gap between what the local intelligentsia may believe about the virtues of cultural diversity and the tribal realities on the ground.  Educational strategists may be interested in his identification of some of the vocational areas that Lebanon needs to develop.

The speech was given on the ninetieth anniversary of the AUB Women's League - an impressive group of women graduates, many of whom have gone on to exercise leadership and influence in Lebanon. They kindly welcomed me to their meeting, and I must add that they really know how to put on a good 'spread'.

Salam: Beirut will continue being the capital of cultural freedom














AUB President Peter Dorman and Minister Salam

Beirut became the Arab world's hospital, university, and publishing house because its freedom attracted Arab petrodollars and politicians, and Beirut is The New York Times' number one clubbing city in the world.

These facts were highlighted by then-Minister of Culture Tammam Salam in his lecture, "Beirut's Cultural Role in the Middle East," delivered at the monthly meeting of the Women's League on November 2.

At the beginning of the meeting, Lebanese flags and the league's newsletter were distributed and the National Anthem and the Alma Mater were sung. Then League President Leila Ghantous, welcomed Salam and AUB President Peter Dorman, pointing out that the league, established on November 3, 1919, was 90 years old.


Women's League members cutting the cake celebrating the League's 90th anniversary

Salam said that Beirut's cultural role grew in importance in the late 19th century because of its inhabitants' courage and stamina, and because of the city's importance as an economic center. He said the city acquired its prominence in the early 20th century because AUB and other foreign universities brought an atmosphere of freedom and the meeting of east with west. "Cultural freedom," he said, "is one of Beirut's major assets. We have managed to survive situations that could have crumbled bigger nations." He added: "If you are bitten by the Beirut bug, it will obsess you forever."

Beirut's role, said Salam, involved distinguished individuals. Lebanese working abroad carry with them a special "cachet" and are looked at differently, so, many companies seek to employ AUB alumni because they belong to a culture of freedom and the spirit of their Alma Mater. They affect change wherever they go, influenced by the culture of the University and of Beirut.

Salam expects Beirut to continue to play an influential role in the future with development in all fields. He said that naming Beirut as World Book Capital in 2009 was an acknowledgment of its cultural role in the book industry, covering authors, printing, and publishing and this makes all the Lebanese responsible for continuing Beirut's cultural role, adding that reading must be increased and be made a national priority, starting with the country's children. He said Beirut should also step up the sophistication in its hospitalization services and its business and banking sectors.

Salam expressed confidence in the future of the city: "I am sure Beirut will continue being the capital of cultural freedom and the place where people enjoy the differences and live the culture of accepting the other.

37 comments:

  1. 盛年不再來,一日難再晨;及時當勉勵,歲月不待人 ..................................................

    ReplyDelete
  2. 哥倫布:「勇於追求新的地平線就是冒險家。」加油!! ....................................................

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  3. 傻氣的人喜歡給心 雖然每次都被笑了卻得到了別人的心..................................................................

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  4. 聰明人之所以不會成功,是因為他們缺乏了堅忍的毅力。.................................................

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  5. 與人相處不妨多用眼睛說話,多用嘴巴思考. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    ReplyDelete