It began as a project in 2010 (Cedars in the Pines) to showcase the Lebanese community in North Carolina. From telling the history of that community, the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies grew to preserve the history and share the stories of the Lebanese diaspora community in the US and around the world. To fulfill its mission, the Khayrallah Center is building the largest archive in the world on the history of Lebanese immigrants and sharing its research with scholars and anyone else who is interested in the Lebanese diaspora, through documentaries, exhibits, workshops, articles, and many other ways.
The center is the brainchild of AUB alumnus Moise A. Khayrallah (BA '81), PhD, who is himself a member of the Lebanese diaspora. So too is Professor Akram Khater who has led the center since it was established in 2015. Given AUB's worldwide alumni community of 68,000 living in more than 115 countries, it is not surprising to discover that there are many connections between AUB and the Khayrallah Center. During a recent visit to North Carolina, President Fadlo R. Khuri visited the Khayrallah Center to explore ways that AUB and the center might collaborate more closely in the future—and to give a public talk about AUB and the future of higher education in the Arab world.
The Khayrallah Center is developing a rich archive of material. “You name it, we collect it," says Khater. Many of the donations that the center receives have a connection with AUB. The Creighton Family, for example, has donated hundreds of photos that Roy and Clara Elise Linn Creighton took when they lived in Beirut between 1928 and 1930. Some of these photos—like the one above or this one of the view from upper campus to the Mediterranean—are especially wonderful. Another recent Khayrallah Center project was a profile of AUB alumnus Herbert Nassour, Jr. (MD '41) who will also be featured in an upcoming documentary.
One of the Khayrallah Center's current initiatives is to digitize the complete collection of Ameen Rihani (1876-1940). One of the “founders of Arab-American literature," Rihani lectured at the Syrian Protestant College, as AUB was called until 1920, in the early twentieth century.
“There is no other center in the world doing what we're doing," says Khater, “It is important to capture and document these stories because without this history, we don't understand our past, and we don't understand who we are."