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AKSOB faculty and staff bond with nature and connect with each other

Innovative outdoor activity by LAU’s Adnan Kassar School of Business aims to promote a positive work environment and interpersonal communication to optimize teaching and learning.

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The Adnan Kassar School of Business (AKSOB) organized a one-day Team Building boot camp on Saturday, September 9 in the midst of Arsoun Village’s pine forest to enhance interpersonal communication and bridge the gap between faculty and staff. 

This event would not have been possible without the planning, thorough follow up and attention to detail of AKSOB’s eagle eye, Maya Khoury. Early, Khoury inspected the site, evaluated the safety of all activities, engineered the menu, and most importantly made sure that all participants enjoyed the workshop and made it back home safe.

“This boot camp was an innovative idea for the School of Business, because we believe that we need to engage our staff and faculty, together, in order to make an impact on the school and create a pleasant working environment that is conducive to teaching and learning,” said Accreditation and Continuous Improvement Coordinator for the school Samar Aad Makhoul, who helped organize the event.

AKSOB Interim Dean, Said Ladki, was among the 23 participants who challenged themselves in an array of physical activities such as net climbing, zip lining, free fall, treasure hunting and hiking.

“This is the first time that LAU has empowered a school to develop leadership and networking activities. It is an experimental prototype activity and we urge other schools to follow,” said Ladki, underlining the importance of events that bring faculty and staff together in a relaxed setting. “I see bonding. I see team spirit and synergy among old and new faculty members and staff. There has been such positive vibes throughout this event,” he added.

In one of the exercises, participants were first asked to pen a thank you note to the person on their right, and then to write something positive about a coworker of their choice. As each note was read, the participants were visibly moved and startled by what their colleagues thought about them.

On receiving her note, Karina Indus Kahwaji, academic assistant in the management studies department, felt she was appreciated. “I didn’t know that so many people value what we do. I thought they just take it for granted. [I realized] they see the effort we put into our job.”

Associate Professor of Finance Anwar Boumosleh echoed Kahwaji’s sentiments. “We seldom actually tell each other things, and this forced us to say the good things about others. It made a major difference in the way we see each other.

Interaction among the colleagues increased as they gradually dropped their guard, revealing their fun side. “It’s different. Definitely. When we arrived, we were reluctant to talk to each other outside campus, but now we look forward to another opportunity to do so. Everyone is asking when would be the next time,” said Makhoul.

For Assistant Professor in the Department of Management Studies Jamal Maalouf, the activity exceeded expectations. “The communication is better. We got to know each other more. There are people I work with, but whom I really only met today… The bonding that happens in nature, being stuck up a tree together and figuring out how to get down, helps in the relationship in a way that the office cannot.”

Participant and Assistant Professor Dunia Harajli emphasized the positive impact of such activities on the workplace. “What we don’t realize is that when we enhance our interpersonal communication, our stress is reduced. We connect better, we help one another more, and it’s a win-win situation,” she said.

The day ended with a bonfire and dinner, and certainly the bond that the faculty and staff have established will prevail in the workplace.

“Today was proof that everybody can relax, everybody can have fun, and I’m sure by the time we go back to the office on Monday, we are going to be different people,” Makhoul concluded.

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