Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
with its educational, cultural, and recreational activities on and off AUB campus for 28 students from around the world. Over three weeks, participants between the ages of 14 and 18 are presented with classes, civil engagement projects, and outdoor activities that depict the AUB and Lebanon experience of their relatives who studied at AUB.
This year, the participants came from US, Asia, the Gulf, and Lebanon. In addition to an opportunity to learn Arabic, they are exposed to Lebanese and Arabic history and archaeology; and a closer familiarization with their roots, their parents’ experience at AUB, and what might be their own experience at the university. This year for the first time, students and parents joined SPAAC from the National Arab American Medical Association (NAAMA), an initiative that was spearheaded by it past president, Dr. Nabil Khoury.
Organized by the AUB Alumni Relations Office and the Continuing Education Center, the program started in 2002 as an opportunity for young people to discover the AUB experience and be exposed to a sampling of what their parents enjoyed at AUB.
“Here, young people discover that they are at least as good as anybody in the world that they will compete with,” said AUB President Fadlo Khuri to the students at the welcoming reception held in West Hall. “Indeed, AUB gives you confidence, not just in yourselves as you transition into adulthood, but confidence that you are going to make a difference in the world when you are grown up.”
The academic part of the program includes classes in colloquial and standard Arabic, Lebanese studies, Middle East history, photography, public speaking, and dabkeh instruction. Alongside the classes, the students are enjoying beach outings, social activities, fitness programs, hikes in the Cedars, and local excursions to Jeita and Byblos, among others.
Program Coordinator Abboud Assio accompanies the students, along with instructors who are experts in their fields and eight monitors who are experts in youth development projects and are assigned into day and night shifts. The participants’ safety and well-being, of course, are priority, while the students are provided room to stretch themselves to their utmost capacity, coached and guided by experts.
“To our 2018 SPAAC students, I know for many of you this is not your first time in Lebanon. But I’m sure it’s your first time experiencing AUB up close and personal,” said Eva Klimas, director of alumni relations in AUB’s New York office, who added that the program will surely be described as “life-changing” and a “one of my best summers ever” experience. “Of one thing I am certain: all of you will leave this program with a new perspective on AUB and its impact on the history and lifeblood of the region.”
Marwan Al Orabi from the Continuing Education Center at AUB’s Regional External Programs, which facilitates the programming content of SPAAC, spoke at the opening about the collaborations, partnerships, and staffing assigned to ensure the success of SPAAC. “I assure you that you will be engaged in a rich experience that includes an educational component as well as cultural and recreational components. It will be an unforgettable experience,” he told the students.
The program includes sessions held in coordination with the AUB’s international award-winning Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) which is partnering this year with the “Help Syrias Kids” organization to offer SPAAC students the unique opportunity to engage in communal projects with children from the Ketermaya camp.