Monday, July 17, 2006

Fallout in the Middle East :: Inside Higher Ed

For colleges in Lebanon and Israel, recent years have been remarkably encouraging. As the violence of civil war in Lebanon and the Intifada in Israel subsided, normalcy had returned, and with it came more American students and professors. The expanding war between Israel and Hezbollah during the last week — both in Lebanon and in Israel — has shocked educators.
“Students and faculty, especially international faculty, are in various gradations concerned, depressed, scared and terrified,” said Peter Heath, provost of the American University of Beirut, in an e-mail interview.
MSNBC has this report:
Joanne Nucho thought she would be spending her summer in a safe Western-style city when she headed off to Beirut, Lebanon, to study Arabic as part of her doctoral program at UCLA. The city is hip and urban, with many comforts of home — there's even a McDonald's across the street from her school, American University in Beirut, and several Starbucks stores nearby.

But suddenly she finds herself huddled in a college dormitory with 40 other Americans, trapped in the middle of an undeclared war and fearing for her life.

"I've never been this scared in my life," she told by phone Friday afternoon (the middle of the night in Beirut). "... Two hours ago I was curled up in a corner crying. The sound of the bombs are shaking me to the bones. My whole body is in trauma. ... As an American you never experience things like this. You see it on TV, but it's nothing like this."
. . .
The group is holed up in a low floor on the dormitory, one that is "not a proper shelter," she said. She has access to clean water and some food she bought at a local store during the day, but not much. There are no school officials nearby, so the students are running the shelter operations by themselves.

"It's literally being run by 19-year-olds," she said. "We don't know what to do."
. . .
“Obviously, the current situation in Lebanon is of great concern to all members of the AUB community,” Provost Peter Heath write in a message to students and faculty on Thursday. “I met with international students, including those attending the CAMES summer Arabic program, to advise them to stay on or very close to campus.”


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