Nadim Shehadi, Executive Director of the LAU New York Headquarters and Academic Center
Knowledge transcends borders.
We were not totally unprepared for all this: When in late February the markets took a dive in anticipation of the COVID-19 recession we were hosting a workshop at LAU NY with Nassim Taleb and his colleagues from the Real World Risk Institute. They had been anticipating such an event for years and we were guided through the mathematics of the global diffusion of a virus with the 65 participants in the workshop.
After that we gradually saw our calendar being cleared with events, travels, conferences and meetings being postponed one after the other followed by social distancing; stay-at-home and then lockdown in New York.
Confinement transformed our lives and made someone in Beirut virtually equidistant to us from a colleague whose office is normally two doors down the corridor in New York. One of the consequences of the Pandemic was that it brought us closer with increased collaboration between the different campuses of LAU.
Shifting our events online had immense advantages. A book discussion had over 400 registered participants and workshops in partnership with the Circle of World Arts as well as a celebration of the Centenary of Al-Rabita attracted an international audience: LAU became global and truly without borders.
The crisis in Lebanon brought additional responsibilities as an outpost of LAU in North America and the crisis in New York will change the city forever. Much of this online life may remain in a post COVID-19 world still full of unknowns. But nothing totally replaces human contact and our team can’t wait to be together again. I for one miss them all.