The prizewinners’ ceremony for the “Kamal Youssef El-Hage High School Competition” took place on Wednesday, October 2017, in Issam Fares Hall at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU). More than 150 high school representatives from across Lebanon attended the ceremony. Among the speakers was NDU President Fr. Pierre Najem who quoted El-Hage in his speech, “The world bombards us with theories, and we live as if we are not living.” Fr. Najem said that nothing has changed in the last 57 years. He emphasized the idea that El-Hage’s dream to build a knowledgeable and courageous Lebanon “is our dream; it is NDU’s dream. That’s why NDU exists…” He also said, “Our role is not to celebrate Kamal El-Hage as much as it is to celebrate the Lebanon of El-Hage, the Lebanon that we all want, and strive to achieve.”
Superior General of the Maronite Apostles Abbot Fr. Malek Bou Tanous highlighted the fact that the “high schools’ competition centered on El-Hage’s philosophy is organized to secure tremendous support from high school administrations in Lebanon’s different regions. The number of participants this year is much higher than last year.” He thanked all those who worked hard to support this competition, whether in the limelight or behind the scene. Abbot Bou Tanous also thanked former NDU President Fr. Walid Moussa and Fr. Najem for their extraordinary commitment to support past and present cultural and intellectual projects related to El-Hage.
Director of the Institute of Lebanese Thought (ILT) at NDU Professor Ameen Albert Rihani said that the program prepared by the El-Hage Centennial Central Committee was well implemented and the events took place as planned from February 2017 to the present in various universities, research institutes, and cultural centers. The remaining part of the program will continue from mid-October 2017 till mid-February 2018. He mentioned that the philosophy of El-Hage has given Lebanon “an argument, a logic, and a dialectic: the argument explaining why Lebanon deserves to live, a logic elucidating how and why Lebanon should follow a certain pattern of life, and a dialectic discussing the role of Lebanon toward its citizens, toward Arabs, and toward humanity.”
Chairperson of the Competition Administrative Committee Youssef El-Khoury explained the plan and the work done by the Organizing Committee with a number of school administrators in different parts of Lebanon. It was announced that the “Open Competition for University Students” would now be known as “The Kamal Youssef El-Hage University Scholarship for M.A. and Ph.D. Candidates” upon the completion of their thesis or dissertation on Lebanese Philosophy or the Philosophy of El-Hage. This new scholarship becomes effective as of this academic year.
Former Minister Edmond Rizk closed the ceremony by emphasizing the significance of preserving knowledge for the sake of the future Lebanon and the future of the Lebanese people. Rizk highlighted the fact that when he was the Minister of Education he supported the idea to teach Lebanese Philosophy, as suggested by the late Professor El-Hage.