The Department Benedict XVI Chair of Religious, Cultural and Philosophical Studies at the Faculty of Humanities (FH), Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU), hosted on September 12-24, 2017, a group of 10 writers from different educational backgrounds, as part of the Study Abroad In Lebanon (SAIL) program. This program is an ongoing collaborative effort between the Cedars Institute in Lebanon and the Wole Soyinka Foundation (WSF) in Nigeria. The aim is to bring together intellectuals with their peers from other countries and partake in an intensive, interactive, and exclusive course at NDU designed to broaden their world perspectives on “World History through the Eyes of Lebanon.”
This 10-day exchange program will introduce them to a modern Middle Eastern nation with a complex history, filled with scenic surprises, a long experience in conflict resolution through experiments in governance systems as well as a rich and fascinating cultural heritage, which they will experience first-hand through full-days tours around Lebanon. According to Dr. Habib Jaafar, NDU designed the SAIL program to focus on the historical foundation of Lebanon as a geopolitical strategic region that set the stage for the rise of ancient Phoenicia and its people’s migration to and from Lebanon. Also, the program examines Lebanon’s emergence as a globally significant international trade hub and shows how Lebanon is a center for transnational culture and learning, a refuge for religious minorities, and an important religious pilgrimage destination.
With a slight increase in the number of participants this year, the second edition of SAIL/WSF-Nigeria will concentrate on writers rather than only focusing on academia. WSF Executive Director Mrs. Folake Soyinka appealed for financial support from corporate bodies and governments to help sustain the program and broaden its scope and reach; thus, deepening its societal impact.
Relying on both substantive and methodological frameworks, the multi-layered objectives of the SAIL program will enable participants to reflect, think critically about their own experiences confronting new cultural contexts, and allow them to understand some of the major themes of world history from the unique vantage point of Lebanon.