Opening new opportunities for the betterment of students and society
February 2, 2016—
“Civic engagement is not genetic. It must be repeated generation after generation. This is the basis of constitutional democracies.” So said LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra to a room of LAU students, staff and faculty who came together with representatives of the civil society pressure group, Civic Influence Hub (CIH), to witness and celebrate the signing of an agreement between the two entities.
“This historic moment will initiate a partnership of work, not just talk,” said CIH Councilor Fahd Saccal, who signed the agreement on behalf of the organization. The partnership, he explained, will include collaboration between CIH and the academic core of LAU on macro policy planning as well as engagement with students, through micro projects, to stress the importance of civic involvement and social responsibility.
“Details of individual initiatives will be developed over time with faculty and students from different schools,” explained Elie Samia, assistant vice president of outreach and civic engagement and head of the LAU’s Outreach and Civic Engagement unit (OCE). “CIH comprises decision makers, agenda setters and thought controllers, and LAU has trained students, experienced faculty and premises in Sidon, Beirut and Byblos, as well as strong ties and experience with thousands of youths, and hundreds of school and NGOs,” added Samia, emphasizing the richness and fruitfulness of the new partnership. “Together we can create bigger ripple effects.”
OCE has for years been preparing its students for active participation in community-centered projects. “A culture has been built. A system has been built. We have the standards, the staff and the style. That’s why we have a certain lead in Lebanon,” said Samia with pride. The new partnership will add to the many existing OCE initiatives that have for over a decade promoted and enabled student civic engagement, notably the ambitious Model United Nations program which has seen more than 2,000 LAU students train over 20,000 school students nationwide.
“The civic engagement at this university is the only thing that kept me in this country. Without it, I wouldn’t have hope,” said second year journalism student and MUN trainer Yasmina El Sabeh. “The potential I see in my students is the most important thing to me and the best reward.” El Sabeh first joined MUN hoping to overcome her shyness and improve her public speaking skills, but her training has become a long-lasting passion. “Working with youth is the best way to serve our community. The older generation lived through the war and is somewhat hopeless, whereas the youth still have the hope that this country needs. Seeing how others around me are willing to give as much as I am is very important in motivating me to stay and serve my country.”
Other stories in: Outreach and Civic Engagement Office.