Sally Abou Melhem <firstname.lastname@example.org> Office of Communications
Around 130 AUB students visited the Lebanese Parliament to participate in a session with five ministers and members of the parliament across a spectrum of political parties and backgrounds, with different ages and levels of experience in politics. The session took place in the chamber of deputies, under the 20-meter diameter cupola built over 84 years ago.
The strongly motivated group of students included members of the Political Studies and Public Administration (PSPA) Society and other PSPA and economics students. The visit was also attended by AUB's Special Advisor to the President for Protocol Affairs and External Relations Ibrahim Khoury, Dr. Zeinab Mirza, lecturer in PSPA, and a representative of AUB's Office of Communications.
“Planning and organizing such a visit was a great opportunity for us students to relate with what we study," said public administration student Rahaf Alman El Jurdi. “It put things into perspective where major rules, regulations and laws are done. It was a great opportunity for our society to understand how the parliament works and takes decisions. It also made us all relate to how we can be the reason of change in the future."
Dr. Mirza stressed on the importance of the “yes you can" spirit when it comes to students. She added that 18 percent of members of the Lebanese Parliament are AUB graduates who were once in the exact position of the students attending this session, which she hopes is a fact that would encourage the students and prove to them that the possibility of their participation in Lebanon's political life is not farfetched.
Commenting on the session, political studies major Kamel Wehbe said, “This is exactly what we need today. Lebanon is a country that can only be resuscitated by youth—the majority of our population." He added that young people remain marginalized from political and societal life, with Lebanon suffering from the lowest youth political participation and civic engagement rates in the world.
MP and former minister of economy Yassine Jaber, who opened the session, addressed the students on the topic of public–private partnerships (PPP), and the issue of supervising budgets and limiting any inefficient spending by bringing back the apparatus in the government that would be capable of dealing with that. Jaber also discussed the importance of parliamentary committees and the role they play in finding common ground whenever presented laws face a dead-end.
MP Fadi Alame, MP Alain Aoun, MP Tarek El-Merhebi, and MP and former minister of education and higher education Marwan Hamadeh also addressed the students covering a wide range of topics and sharing their insights, experiences, and advice on the field of politics and public administration in Lebanon. A major part of the three-hour session was dedicated to the students' questions directed to each of the MPs and ministers.