Articles About Project Roots
- The Maronite Academy (2013): Inspiring Journey and Amazing Educational Trip to Lebanon
(The Maronite Voice, Dec. 2013)
- NOLAA Event, Nov. 2013: Honors and Prompts to Action
- Preserver le modele libanais (L'Orient Le Jour- Oct. 2011- in French)
- Poject Roots (Assafir- Oct. 2011- in Arabic)
The Maronite Academy (2013)
Inspiring Journey and Amazing Educational Trip to Lebanon
By Carolyn Aboubechara
The Maronite Voice, Dec. 2013 [Click here to read the article as it appeared in The Maronite Voice]
As an active Maronite volunteer and parishioner of a new Maronite Church, Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Sacramento, CA, I embarked on what turned out to be a life-changing journey to learn more about my religious denomination and my Lebanese roots through a Program created by the “Maronite Foundation in the World” whose President is Mr. Michel Eddé, whose Vice-President is Mr. Nehmat Frem, and whose Administrative Director is Mrs. Hiam Boustani. This Program is titled, “The Maronite Academy;” its Executive Director was Mrs. Nada Salem Abisamra who is now the Director of the Christian Lebanese Foundation (CLF) in the U.S. and of “Project Roots” (http://www.projectroots.net), an endeavor which aims to help, free of charge, all Americans of Lebanese descent connect with their roots and register their Vital Life Events to obtain status in Lebanon, in order to maintain the demographic and political power-sharing balance there.
The Maronite Academy has three major goals which complement those of Project Roots: 1) Introduce Lebanon to the youth of Lebanese immigrants; 2) Strengthen the relationship between Lebanese residents and the diaspora; 3) Improve the image of Lebanon in the new generation’s minds in order to incite pride in their Lebanese roots, encourage them to register in Lebanon, and motivate them to encourage their friends and families to register.
Approximately 100 applications were submitted in 2012 by young men and women of Lebanese descent from all over the world, aged between 18 and 30; of them about 80 students were selected to take, over the course of a 5-month period, five short online courses covering the following topics: “History of the Maronites,” taught by Father Jad Kossaify; “Challenges of the Christians in Lebanon,” taught by Mr. Antoine Saad; “The Christian Sacred Sites in Lebanon,” taught by Father Fadi Kmeid; “Immigration: Opportunities and Losses,” taught by Mr. Laurent Aoun; and, last but not least, “Lebanon, Lebanese Culture, and Spoken Lebanese Language,” taught by Mrs. Nada Salem Abisamra. After completing the courses, 40 students who maintained high level grades and thinking skills, exhibited enthusiasm towards the program and the cause, and continuously engaged with the group were selected to go, in July 2013, all expenses covered, on a two-week trip to Lebanon to discover its rich history (1600 years old), customs, and beauty, and to explore the land and Holy Valley where Maronites survived attacks for centuries in order to preserve their freedom and religious beliefs, despite the difficulty of life in those areas. Those students were from the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Switzerland, and Egypt.
On the trip, we got a glimpse of how strong and dedicated the Maronites were for living in Kadisha Valley and f0or overcoming all obstacles and spreading the teachings of St. Maron to the whole world. We met the President, Mr. Michel Sleiman, who encouraged us all to stay connected with and visit our country of origin; he spoke about a promising future for Lebanon. We also had the opportunity to meet the Maronite Patriarch, Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rai, who was proud to see such dedicated and successful students, so proud of their Maronite roots, and he encouraged us to stay connected with our roots as well and to talk about and spread the news about Lebanon and our Maronite heritage and history.
Our trip was concluded by a beautiful and grandiose Gala/Graduation Ceremony hosted by Mr. Nehmat Frem and dedicated to us, the Maronite Academy Class of Georges Frem. About three hundred prominent Lebanese personalities were invited to this gala at the beginning of which we were all given Certificates of Completion. Towards the end of the ceremony, I had the honor of presenting Mr. Michel Eddé with a small cedar tree the students and I had brought back with us from our trip to the Lebanese Cedars as a gift of gratitude for the amazing experience the Maronite Academy and the Maronite Foundation in the World had provided us! Engraved on this cedar tree were all the students’ names, in addition to the names of the 4 people who volunteered to manage, guide, and accompany us throughout our stay in Lebanon: Mrs. Nada Abisamra, Father Fadi Kmeid, Mr. Robert Matta, and Ms. Cynthia Abisamra. This tree represents a history of over 5,000 years, has a biblical significance by being referred to in the Bible approximately 75 times, and is a symbol of survival, which is what the Lebanese have done for hundreds of years.
The trip to Lebanon instilled in me the pride, passion, and motivation to be continuously involved in the Lebanese cause and to promote Lebanon as a country, as a holy land, and as an example of democracy and way of life. This was honestly an amazing educational and spiritual experience that had a major influence on my life. I now have a new family in Lebanon (the Maronite Foundation in the World), and one that is spread out all over the world (the Maronite Academy students and teachers). After spending two full weeks with individuals with Lebanese roots from all over the world, we developed a very close bond. We stay connected via our own Facebook group where we share stories, pictures, and life events.
I encourage every person of Lebanese descent to discover their roots and stay connected to their roots. A first step is to join the Maronite Youth Club on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/maroniteyouthclub/ ) and to check Project Roots’ website on a regular basis for opportunities to connect, learn, and help.
I also encourage all people of Lebanese descent to register their marriages and children in order to help our presence in Lebanon and to make sure that Lebanon remains a source of pride for us and “an island of democratic ideals, a message of freedom, a living example of coexistence, and a symbol of pluralism for both the East and the West.” I will do my part and help this cause, and I encourage you to do so as well.
Honors and Prompts to Action
--By Nada Salem Abisamra (Director, CLFW/Project Roots)
Nov. 12, 2013
Around 500 people attended the highly inspiring 8th Annual Lebanese American Heritage Ball that the Northern Ohio Lebanese American Association (NOLAA) held on Saturday, November 9th, 2013, at LACentre in Cleveland, OH.
The whole ceremony was just awesome; it was so welcoming and warm. Both the honorees and attendees were glowing, from beginning to end, with excitement and pride: excitement for being part of such a well-organized ceremony which honored unique people who have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the Lebanese cause, and pride for actually belonging to this strong, well-knit Lebanese community in this part of the country. We could very well witness the warmth and enthusiasm of the people present just by mingling with them towards the beginning of the ball.
The ceremony opened with the U.S. and Lebanese National Anthems, performed by Rita Shaia Cavalier, followed by an invocation delivered by Father Peter Karam (to whom we are extremely grateful for his great help with registration), some remarks conveyed by NOLAA’s President, Richard Ganim Jr., then the Honorees’ presentations. The Dabke group which performed in the middle of the ceremony transported each one of us to our mother land, Lebanon, with a thirst for our beloved country that could only be quenched by the wonderful honorees’ speeches which were followed by beautiful Lebanese entertainment performed by singer Tony Michael and Joe Estephan Band. The Master of Ceremonies, Jon Pinney, and the different people who introduced the honorees: Elias Saadi’s son, Edward, Fady Chamoun, and Pierre Chelala, the Heritage Committee Chairperson, all did a remarkable job.
This year’s honorees were Elias Saadi, M.D. and Joe and Jeanette Kanaan from Cleveland, in addition to the President and CEO of INDEVCO (Industrial Development Company S.A.L.), Neemat Frem, NOLAA’s special guest from Lebanon.
Before Dr. Saadi took the stage, the audience was thrilled to be exposed to a touching video coverage about him that left us all in awe! “Dr. Saadi has done so much for our Lebanese community,” one could not help but think to oneself! Then, listening to Dr. Saadi himself addressing us all with the utmost humility and warmth left us with a feeling of gratitude for this man who has set a great example for the future generations.
Nada S. Abisamra; Elias Saadi, M.D; Josephine Sfeir Bassil
The people who were honored next were Joe and Jeanette Kanaan who also made big contributions to the Lebanese community in Cleveland. Their restaurant, “Joe’s,” has been a welcoming place for many years. The audience was delighted to see that Joe and Jeanette’s relatives were even flown in from Lebanon for the occasion. The speech that Jeanette made demonstrated how caring and warm she really is. The audience interacted with her to a large extent.
NOLAA’s guest of honor, Mr. Neemat Frem, took to the stage amid loud cheers and applause. His speech, which he delivered to a very silent but attentive and alert audience, captured each one of us for the new ideas and prompts to action that it conveyed. Mr. Frem talked about the “Lebanese Dream” which Lebanese immigrants have brought to life through their “spirit of achievement and heritage,” through their “hard work, generosity and, above all, their resiliency and entrepreneurial drive coupled with a strange feeling of self-confidence rooted deeply in faith.” They have demonstrated that there is a “Lebanese Dream” since they have managed to overcome difficulties in their new worlds, differences in customs and ways of life and, above all, “they have succeeded beyond all measures and against all odds, making a difference in their communities with creativity, intelligence, and innovation.” However, Mr. Frem wonders, “How can the Lebanese have, individually, so many successes and, collectively, so much failure?” This is where he pushed us to action: we collectively need to do something about that! This is unacceptable. We need a collective success as a nation of Lebanese all over the world. We owe this to ourselves, to our families, and to our country of origin! For that, he incited us, first, to Register in Lebanon. Our mere registration will, in no way, jeopardize our American citizenship or reduce our commitment to our nation of adoption. It will, however, help Lebanon maintain the demographic and political power-sharing balance there so that Lebanon remains a source of pride for us all. It will contribute to making Lebanon a collective success in which we will all have taken part! The Christian Lebanese Foundation in the World (CLFW) (http://www.clfw.org/) and Project Roots (http://www.projectroots.net/) are present all over the US in order to help you, free of charge, to register in Lebanon. Contact them, and register!
Nada S. Abisamra; Neemat Frem
Nano Rached; Nada S. Abisamra; Neemat Frem; Josephine Sfeir Bassil
If, on the other hand, you are of Lebanese descent and, for some reason or another, haven't been able to register in Lebanon, you should fill out the petition on the following website: http://www.yes-i-want.com/ and share this website with your friends. You should say, “Yes, I Want my Lebanese Citizenship!” and proceed to action. The larger the number of people who sign this petition, the better the chances of your getting your Lebanese citizenship! We should all spread the word about it. You do your part by filling out the petition and sharing it with your friends and relatives, and we will do our part by striving to make your voice heard.
Nada S. Abisamra; Neemat Frem
Nano Rached; Neemat Frem
At the end of his speech, Mr. Frem received another great tribute of applause.
Thank you, NOLAA! We are looking forward to attending your next event!
Nada S. Abisamra; Pierre Chelala
Nano Rached; Fady Chamoun; Neemat Frem
Pierre Chelala; Josephine Sfeir Bassil; Nada S. Abisamra
Read at: http://www.assafir.com
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PRESERVE YOUR HERITAGE!
Director: Nada Salem Abisamra
Contact: Tel: (917) 755-0499 || Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated: Jun 14th 2015