The Lebanese Organization of Studies and Training (LOST) in the Baalbeck-Hermel Region.
Launched in October 2011 and ending in June 2012, the Academy of Youth project aims at providing youths in the communities of the region with civics education and at engaging them in the public affairs of these communities with the ultimate purpose being raising a new generation of Lebanese citizens who have a strong sense of citizenship and who shape the future of their country responsibly and proactively. Via trainings, courses, seminars, field trips and community projects, participants of the Academy undergo an eight-month long program at the successful completion of which they graduate in a public ceremony.
“It is fun. It is constructive. It is excellent,” Noun continued; “The program allows me to gain new experiences beyond what is offered in my school’s classroom and also to meet new people. I especially enjoy the Information Technology (IT) portion of the project as IT-education is lagging behind in our schools.”
During the month of December 2011, participants, all of whom fall within the 15-18 years of age range, have visited various community gardens in the region with the purpose of choosing a suitable garden to restore as part of the Community Project section of the Academy. Training in municipal work was conducted, in addition to courses in information technology and social media use and applications.
“Even though only four full months have passed so far since the launch of the Academy, its impact on youths is already noticeable. Their discussions are becoming more reasonable, and there is an evident change in the manner in which youths debate issues and consider issues,” observed Salah Zaayter, the Academy’s director of training of LOST. “We have seen an excessive inflow of participants who want to take part in the Academy. Also, youths are undertaking additional initiatives beyond what they are asked for. This is an impressive sign indicating that the project is on track and exceeding our and communities’ expectations,” continued Zaayter.
Academy of Youth Seven has been made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Government of the United States of Americavia the Office of Transition Initiatives of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Lebanon.
“The Academy gives the individual a chance to stay abreast of the cultural developments of the modern age and also to build bonds with my peers from varied backgrounds,” commented Nour-el-Houda Zaayter, Noun’s fellow classmate in the Academy; “It is definitely an experience of a lifetime.”