American Univesity of Beirut

It started as a family project, but the stories are universal – and wonderful

​​​Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Alumna trustee Leila Bissat (BA ’76) never dreamed that she would be involved in writing and producing an ebook (“I’m a pencil and paper person,” she says), but these are unusual times. “It was the pandemic that gave me the idea for this project,” she explains. “Like so many people, our family was not able to get together in person for months, but we were still eager to connect. This project gave us the chance to do that.” 

The project that Bissat is talking about is the ebook that she recently wrote with her brothers and cousins – and published with invaluable help from her daughter, Zahra Bissat Tabbara. Working on A Journey Into Memories: Reviving the Past gave Bissat, her brother Anwar Amad, and her cousins Nahed Eid Yemmi and Nada Eid Itani, a priceless opportunity to reflect on – and record – the tales they wanted to pass on to their children. “Every family has stories,” says Bissat. “Because we grew up together in Beirut and our families were and are still very close, we shared many of the same experiences.”

A Journey Into Memories includes texts in French, English, and Arabic. Many of the contributions have an AUB connection, which is not surprising since Bissat’s father, Husam Hasan Amad (BA ’49), and husband, Moustafa Mohammad Bissat (BBA ’75), are also AUB alumni. Her son, Mohamad, spent a year at AUB before traveling to the US where he graduated from Brown University.

Some of the authors, like Bissat, wrote in more than one language. “We decided to publish the stories in the language in which we wrote them – and not spend time translating,” she says. The book also includes photos, many of them taken by Bissat’s brother, Walid Amad. Another feature of the book is that it includes the glorious music of Zaki Nassif. “Yes, that was my idea,” says Bissat. “It was something I especially wanted to do as a founding member of the Zaki Nassif Program for Music at AUB."

This is not Bissat’s first book. She has previously written and published three books: Of Symbols and Stones: Memoirs of a Traveler (2007), Of Whispers and Winds: Memorabilia of a Traveler (2017), and Ainab, the Jabal, choice of the heart (2020). This is her first ebook though. “It was my daughter who convinced me that this was the way to go. I was skeptical – about the process and the technology – about how it would work, but she was right.” Bissat says that she was also concerned about whether people would be able to download the book. “Many of my friends are like me and are a bit old-fashioned, but I can honestly say that this book is very easy to download – and it’s free!” 

Bissat hopes that her book brings comfort to people during challenging times. “We thought about that a lot when writing these stories,” she says. “I think readers will find this an enjoyable book to read.” 

It really is easy – and free – to download A Journey Into Memories: Reviving the Past. Here are the instructions:

  1. Download the EduBook Eduware app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
  2. Once the application is downloaded, open it, and proceed by creating an account.
  3. Tap on the cart icon in the top left of your phone’s browser to access the bookstore.
  4. The book “Journey into Memories” will appear first in the store. Tap the button “Get Free.” You will then see a message telling you that the book has been successfully added to your bookshelf in the app.
  5. Close it and open it again and go back to the app and you should be able to see the book added to your shelf. Tap on the book cover, then the download icon on the top right, and wait for the book to download. Happy reading on the move. The book is now available for you offline. If you have trouble downloading the book, email​.​​

​Alumna trustee Leila Bissat (BA '76)​

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