Brunette in Beirut
The Last Word
MEU is a small campus, located on Sabtieh Hill in Lebanon. At times I can see the Mediterranean Sea from my window because there’s a smog problem due to the number of cars. The campus consists of four primary buildings and there are approximately 200 students as a whole.
These students come from all over the world including Ghana, Egypt, Lebanon, China, Korea, Nepal, El Salvador and the United States. Everyone is friendly and coexists well despite coming from different racial and religious backgrounds.
Growing up as a third-culture kid, I thought I had what it took to study abroad in Lebanon. My family recently relocated to St. Louis after six years in Israel. I expected my Adventist Colleges Abroad adventure would be a breeze because Lebanon is in the same region of the world as Israel and Arabic shares similar characteristics with Hebrew.
While both countries do share some similarities, I’m never allowed to discuss my history in Israel or my ability to speak Hebrew due to the sensitive political climate. This has been the biggest challenge I’ve faced thus far because it’s as if I have to forget a part of who I am.
I’ve also experienced intense culture shock. Before I arrived, I expected it to be culturally different, but I’ve had to work diligently on my adaptability. What I first noticed about Lebanese culture was their pushiness. If one does not push her way to the front of a line or ask a question, many times one will never get what she wants.
Another fact I’ve discovered is the difference in the Arabic language among countries. I’m learning Lebanese Arabic but I’m also volunteering at a learning center where some mothers have offered to tutor me in Syrian Arabic.
The learning center is considered a sphere of influence, which means most of the children are Muslim and need a place for education after fleeing from their country of origin. I’ll be teaching reading and writing to third and fourth-graders throughout the year.
Despite the adversities, there are many triumphs. I highly recommend everyone take a year to do either ACA or student missions. School will always be there but these opportunities may not. Over the course of this year I have the opportunity to travel to Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Dubai and around Lebanon with the ACA program. If you’d like to continue following my adventures, you may do so at brunetteinbeirut.wordpress.com.
Katie Buxton is a junior studying business administration.