To my Beirut

Á mon Beyrouth…

Lessons I learned…


I spent two days at a Red Cross Camp where we had workshops that dealt stereotypes, anti-discrimination, tolerance and human rights. It was interesting, at some points fun, but there were certain aspects of it, that although it was rather enjoyable.

After the ice-breaking meeting, we begun on talking about the IHL. We then went on to human rights. Topics that were brought up ranged from everywhere, from gay or civil marriage, to capital punishment… It was interesting, although we of course resorted to the Lebanese way of doing things… aka, wanting to make our point which we felt was much more important than another, to the point where we actually… interrupt

A frustrating ordeal, but the experience was nonetheless fascinating. Then we had the RAID CROSS program, where we were to be treated as prisoners of war. It is a program spread across the globe so far, and has seemed to work effectively on the future generations. This is a link to a page that might explain things better. http://www.redcrescent.org.my/drupal/node/110

The role-playing was not a pleasant experience, yet it did give a basic idea. Being screamed and yelled at by people we know for only an hour or so was disturbing as it seemed so serious… and yet I could not imagine what it was like for someone who suffered years of real humiliation by complete strangers.

The day ended with the agree/disagree exercise. Does the authority have the right to prevent inter-religious marriages? Is labour an obligation or a right? Even if the person does not impose a burden on society or the government, can they choose not to work? the debated was kind of heated, but nothing compared to what happened the next morning…

The most interesting aspect of the entire workshop… came the next day…

Stereotypes…

Shi’a, Sunni, Maronite, Druz, Jew, Catholic, Greek Orthodox… all religions brought up… provocation… reaction… explosion…. frustration….

It was all an exercise.

The idea behind it was to heal wounds, to bring out the worst feelings our subconscious can conjure up, in order to heal, like the Rwandans did, to actually admit what is reality and come face to face with the scars of the civil war that is still going on in people’s hearts, a war that begun for no reason and ended unexpectedly, also for no reason, where people were simply told to stop fighting and forget about what happened. Something the Lebanese are very good at… or to be put more simply, something they pretend they are very good at…

Fake provocations which were meant to bring out our worst. It , is better not to go through the details of what happened, but rather the ending of what was a typical Lebanese tragedy… lunchtime….

FOOD. The healing ingredient to all our problems in the middle east, unless Hezbollah decides to go to battle over Hommos and Taboulleh, which actually turned to be a funny joke for a couple months…

yes back to food… big smiles, Le Crillion’s legendary food and coffee breaks which included chips and cookies and ice-cream… and once again, while although some reacted well to the exercise which resulted in further discussions, there were still those who plastered their wounds with a temporary smile on their face….

Oh well…. Such things take time. But how much longer will Time intend to be Lebanon’s friend?

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This entry was posted on April 11, 2010 by in Classwork, Lebanon News.
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