Serving the North: CEP sets up shop in Tripoli
Ribbon cutting ceremony at the new CEP satellite office at the Safadi Foundation, Tripoli. Dr. Jabbra holds the scissors with Mohammad and Mona Safadi and other influential members of the Tripoli community.
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January 26, 2012—
Whether or not they all knew it, a dozen or so staff members from LAU’s Continuing Education Program were on their way to making LAU history January 19 as they boarded a small bus headed from the Beirut campus to the northern reaches of Lebanon.
As the bus approached Tripoli and navigated the last stretch of road between the highway and the new office at the Safadi Foundation, each of a series of freshly planted blue CEP road signs elicited cheers and applause from CEP director Michel Majdalani and the other passengers.
The two institutions formalized a partnership in June that led to the establishment of CEP’s first satellite outside Beirut, allowing the office to extend its reach to Lebanon’s second most populous city and its surrounding areas. Seven months later, the center opens its doors to offer a host of specialized workshops, professional certificate and post-graduate degree programs.
“We are proud to be spreading knowledge throughout the North,” says Maya Baghdadi, CEP coordinator for the Tripoli office and a native of the city. “I feel like this initiative is a way to give back to my community, and I expect to see positive outcomes.”
The Tripoli office, as well as another CEP office set to be launched in Zahle on January 26, will play key roles in the social development of both communities. The new offices will offer everything from SAT prep courses for young students to specialized CEP certificate programs in law, business and marketing aimed at both veterans and neophytes of those professions.
“Whatever your background may look like, CEP offers a program to meet your needs,” said Faten Dabboussi, assistant director of CEP, as she outlined the wide variety of program options during the office launching ceremony.
One of the key aims of the new office is to ensure that program fees remain affordable by offering up to 40 percent discounts on programs for those who may need financial support.
“We kept affordability in mind to allow all to enhance their skills and performance — not only the privileged,” Majdalani explains.
Majdalani’s speech at the launch of the Tripoli center outlined several goals, including the cultivation of ethical principles and scientific foundations, the introduction of specialized programs in response to market needs, and the improvement of professional skills through top-notch educational programs.
Mohammad Safadi, current Lebanese finance minister and president of the Safadi Foundation, elaborated on the point about market needs, explaining that high unemployment in the Arab world among educated youth results from a disconnect between educational programs and real world market needs.
“The Lebanese economy essentially relies on human capital which is our biggest national resource,” Safadi said. “We can nurture the national economy by enhancing their educational abilities.”
His wife and vice president of the Safadi Foundation, Mona Safadi, was also present at the ceremony.
The Safadi Foundation was established in Tripoli in 2001 as a non-profit charitable organization working with the community to advance youth education, sports, health and culture. In recent years the organization has increased its emphasis on social development. With the new partnership, CEP has access to the foundation’s facilities, which include a library, computer lab and gymnasium.
“Our visions for this partnership coincided in their emphasis on youth,” said Riad Alameddine, General Director of the Safadi Foundation. “We depend on them to build society and bring prosperity to the nation.”
In his ceremonial address, LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra thanked the Safadis for their charitable programs in the country, characterizing them as “blessed with the best gift in life — the gift of giving.”
“LAU believes profoundly in not only the responsibility, but the obligation of the institution to serve the other,” Jabbra said. “Our two marvelous institutions are bonding together in order to see to it that the north of Lebanon is well served, and that the young people of this region begin to learn about the importance of thinking about the other.”
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