400 youth celebrate Independence together

“Independence : Sovereignty and Dignity” was the label of the Independence exhibition which was organized by the Academy of Youth and Municipal Work on February 2, 2010 at Tammouz  Hall - Baalbeck. More than ten youth groups representing eight high schools and two youth municipalities participated in this event. “I felt overwhelmed by this crowd and I really felt exited to be one the organizer of this big event. It is the first time that we celebrate Independence Day outside school. Here, I felt that Independence is a national day” confirmed Mohamad Hassan, a youth club coordinator.
The exhibition included graphics, handicrafts and poems created by students which reflected various meanings of “Independence”. All students signed and carved different opinions and expressions on a big Lebanese Flag expressing their sincere patriotism. “The enthusiasm that we saw here is very rare, it looked like we were in a national competition and everyone is trying to prove how much he loves Lebanon: I am proud to be a member of the Academy” said Ahmad Houjeiry. This ceremony ended by distributing flowers and Lebanese flags to all participants

I learned the meaning of Peace

When he first took part in the Youth Academy of Peace, Mohamad felt worried because he had to work with people from different religions and sects. In his opinion, people are grouped according to their sectarian identities. He has the judgment of a divided society and he could not make any change alone. However, this conviction has changed after he joined the Academy for three months in Ein. He found in LOST a place to learn, share and exchange ideas with others. He realized later that sectarian difference is not a negative thing; on the contrary it could be a motive for creativity and innovation. He also shared his experience with others and built up his communication skills in a manner that he didn’t do before.

“In the Academy of Peace I learned how to communicate with others, I participated actively in workshops and debates about tolerance and building peace in society. I learned the meaning of peace and I felt that I really want to build it in my neighborhood. Most importantly, I found out that the more we work together the better we become.” The Academy is not only a place to make friends, but it’s a program to empower and engage youth in social and public life. Although it’s only a three month program, however, it offers a type of education and learning that is unique in the region.

“Youth are not protected in our society, they are easily infected by the diseases of sectarian divide, but our job here is to shelter them. In fact, we organize special workshops and debates about citizenship and civic participation, peace and tolerance in order to make youth more aware and confident of their existence and their vigorous role in society. We help them to become Lebanese active citizens away of sectarianism!” affirmed Ali Nazha, the Academy coordinator at Ein Branch.

The Youth Academy of Peace is a youth engagement program that LOST is continuously running every three months throughout the year. It comprises a set of civic workshops and a 32-hour social media and IT training, in addition to a number of activities that participants suggest and implement themselves. It makes a difference when hundreds of youth participants attend every year, they learn the meaning of peace and they can create it.

Youth Programs

In the efforts of lessening deviation towards sectarian violence and promoting constructive communication among youth of different sectarian backgrounds, LOST announced a three month course covering citizenship, conflict resolution, and civic participation through the Academy of Peace project. More than 60 young citizens enrolled in 3 different locations in north Bekaa. The participants learned to share their opinion on issues deeply related to their lives. The project was concluded by an art exhibition and three plays that reflected participants understanding of the project.

Farah Mahfoud
16 years old
A Participant of
Academy of Peace
When they first told me about the host program and that I have to visit strangers from a different sect, religion, and region, I was frankly reluctant, hesitant, and a little afraid of going to visit strangers and the way in which they might react.
I was really amazed and surprised by their warm welcome. They were teenagers who shared my interests and many of my points of view with respect to the different subjects we are being trained on such as citizenship and conflict resolution .We found that we have similar ideas that we can discuss and share. I was very happy to meet them and that I got the opportunity to break the ice and to change my pre-judgment and to understand others.
I learned from this experience that I should be open to others and try my best to communicate before I build thoughts. Although some people live in another place and have different beliefs, they belong to the same country and all their ideas serve our country but we just have to share it.

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