This is a story about our students. It is about what they do when they are not studying. They go out and they win prizes.
The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), an international non-profit organization specializing in the field of transitional justice, held a youth photo contest entitled “The war as I see it” in Lebanon. Youth aged 18-25 participated from throughout Lebanon as well as abroad. Two prizes were awarded to AUB students: First Prize for Architecture student Sibylle George and Special Prize for Media and Communications student Tamara Saade. An exhibit of the competing photos is now open at AUB’s Jafet Library until Friday, February 26, 2016.
Students were informed in October 2015 of a photography competition depicting memories and perceptions of the Lebanese civil war when the announcement circulated on bulletin boards and by emails from professors working in related fields. The contest was organized in collaboration with the Embassies of Switzerland and France in Lebanon, the French Institute for the Near-East, the Political Science Institute at Saint-Joseph University. Drs. Sari Hanafi and Lyna Comaty who teach transitional justice and mechanisms of dealing with the legacy of past human rights abuses, Professor of Urban Studies and Politics Dr. Mona Harb, Chairperson of the Graphic Design program Leila Musfi, and instructor in media studies Nora Boustany are some of the professors who encouraged their corresponding students to apply to this competition.
In the photo exhibit you will see the first-prize winning photo entitled Dominique. Sibylle George’s photo of a book with a bullet shot tells a story of her grandmother’s experience of war since 1975 and speaks of the damage that hit her house, including this book that was left on the bookshelf since the day it was shot.
Nineteen-year-old Tamara Saade portrayed the scene from a different angle. Showing a photo of a young lady sunbathing at the beach, Tamara, who is also an Outlook magazine writer, explained that growing up in a country that tries to move on from its past, she witnessed the new Lebanon – to her the war is a scar of the past. “I chose to represent a scene that is not related to war – luckily I have no memories of the war, war is abstract,” she said. “We were raised with no books of history teaching us about the war. It was an avoided subject. This is the Lebanon I live, with its nightlife and beaches, but I see its scars in the buildings nibbled by bullets and from the people who have lived through this dreadful time.” Tamara was awarded the special prize for a photograph depicting “The Consequences of War on the City,” offered by the Urban Observatory at the French Institute for the Near East.
The photo exhibit was opened at Jafet Library on Friday, February 12 with a speech by ICTJ Beirut Advisor Laura Smith, followed by remarks from Swiss Ambassador in Lebanon Francois Barras and ICTJ Board Member Carmen Abu Jaoudé. After the prize awarding ceremony, a debate session engaged student groups and the rest of the audience on the subject of the legacy of the war.
We congratulate our students. This achievement attests to the diversity of skills and the richness of the AUB experience as they engage in various activities.
“Throughout my architecture studies at AUB, I learned to see the world differently and to express myself with a wide range of tools,” first-prize winner Sibylle told us. “I developed a growing interest for photography during these five years and ended up taking a photography class as one of my field electives. I believe that the combination of all these factors contributed to the success of my picture in the contest.”