Janda Barazi, BA in Political Science and International Affairs

On social and academic breakthroughs.


Before joining LAU, I had never studied in the American educational system, nor in English. At my school, studying and education were regarded as strictly solitary activities. I did not know what group work was, had never been in a club, nor spoken in front of a class. I believe education is not just an academic experience, but also a social one, and I am proud of the progress I have made.

My 17-year-old self would have imagined graduation as being with just me and my mom, perhaps with a bouquet of flowers. Now, I am wondering how I ever grew this close to this many people – fellow MEPI TLers but also my other LAU friends. It feels like a social breakthrough, though it has been more gradual compared to my academic breakthrough.

There are so many achievements I could talk about, but there was this one moment during my exchange semester in the US. We were taking a tour in Washington, DC, and heading toward the Lincoln Memorial, and for a moment there I completely zoned out and thought, “This cannot be real. Where would I be if it had not been for LAU or MEPI TL?” It was a very emotional moment because I am a bit of a history nerd, and I suddenly felt connected to everyone who had ever walked those steps, and I thought to myself, “I have made it.”

I have a lot of hope for my country, Syria, and yet I am aware of how unbelievably challenging it will be to realize them. I am witnessing how many of the young people there are giving up on their country. While I am not yet sure about the role I could play, I want to be able to help drive the change at any cost, to be able to prove to people that change is possible – perhaps in the capacity of a diplomat, a university professor, or a social activist.

Although I am hopeful, I am also aware of the amount of work it is going to take to make that change happen. I have time, and I am willing to commit to doing that work.

To incoming LAU students, I say try to live every day of this experience to the fullest. For international students, the Lebanon you will be coming to is very different from the Lebanon I arrived in back in 2017. You have a responsibility to be socially aware and to understand where each person is coming from.

To LAUers, I have never known students, faculty, or staff like you. Every course has been a distinct learning experience. The MEPI TL administration has become family. They helped me move beyond hurdles when I did not think it was possible.