From Beirut to Beverly Hills, AMIDEAST Supports Lebanon’s Development
AMIDEAST/Lebanon Advisory Board Chairman Anis Nassar meets scholarship students at the Beirut office.

In a July 1976 newsletter, AMIDEAST’s Vice President Orin Parker detailed the devastation inflicted on Lebanon’s education sector by the civil war that had been raging for 16 months. Most schools had shut down, especially in Beirut, leaving the dangerous streets filled with children playing — even as the fighting swirled around them. Shelling, looting, and other violence forced many colleges and universities to operate haphazardly or close. Students looking to continue their education outside the country often faced added difficulties due to the destruction of transcripts, incomplete coursework, and the widespread breakdown of communication infrastructure (mail and telephone).

The overall impact on youth cannot be overstated. As Mr. Parker wrote at the time, “The loss of the academic year just concluded, and the concomitant flow of young people in search of education elsewhere, may be one of the most important effects of the tragedy engulfing Lebanon today.”

Despite the dangerous conditions, which caused most American corporations and organizations to flee the country, AMIDEAST remained in operation in Beirut throughout the 15-year war. Under the direction of then-Country Director Phyllis Salem, it provided valuable education and training services and functioned as a lifeline for educational exchange for students from Lebanon’s diverse communities. By demonstrating a commitment to the country and its people, and maintaining a reputation for quality programs, AMIDEAST — which opened its Beirut office in 1968 — was able to broaden its role in Lebanon to meet new needs for education and training following the end of hostilities in 1990.

Today, AMIDEAST/Lebanon is proud to have impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals in all regions of the country through its programs in the fields of education, English language, and career training. Since 2000, it has provided professional counseling on U.S. study opportunities to 50,000 students and assisted in securing 300 scholarships to attend American higher education institutions. In addition, it has enrolled 43,800 in English language and test preparation courses, helped 3,000 professionals advance their technical skills, and is stimulating economic growth by supporting entrepreneurs through the AMIDEAST Entrepreneur Institute in Beirut. Working with international and local partners, AMIDEAST also supports large-scale development projects that have advanced educational and judicial reform, good governance, and civil society development in Lebanon.

In its latest effort to support Lebanese students and young professionals, the AMIDEAST/Lebanon Advisory Board (ALAB) is hosting the first AMIDEAST Education Hero Award Gala on October 14, 2017, in Beverly Hills, California.

Proceeds netted by the event will enable AMIDEAST to expand its educational and training programs that benefit youth in Lebanon. They include initiatives that in recent years have enabled more than 100 young men and women from the country to win over $18 million in scholarships and financial aid to study at American universities and colleges. Other programs advance employability and entrepreneurship among the country’s youth. Backing from the prominent community and business leaders who make up the ALAB has proved critical to the success of these efforts.

“The ALAB was created to support AMIDEAST’s efforts to help Lebanon’s youth receive the education and training that will equip them for a brighter future for themselves and their country,” said Mr. Anis Nassar, chairman of the ALAB.

By holding the gala in Beverly Hills, AMIDEAST looks forward to reconnecting with many in the large diaspora community of Southern California who were helped by AMIDEAST, whether through scholarship support or by taking a test that opened the door to study opportunities in the United States.

The Lebanese diaspora community, in Southern California and elsewhere, grew significantly as a result of the civil war. It was during that period that AMIDEAST proved its deep commitment to the development of Lebanon and its people — a commitment shared by many of those individuals and families who left the country. Thirty years later, there remains a high need and demand for the diverse education and training services that AMIDEAST provides.

Located in the heart of the Beirut Central District, AMIDEAST/Lebanon has an almost 50-year history of contributing to the development of the country and its people and strengthening ties between Lebanese and American communities and institutions. With its commitment to expanding opportunities through education and training, AMIDEAST is making a real difference in Lebanon — and changing lives in the process. With your support of the gala, it will be able to do even more.