Summer in Lebanon is coming to an end and our students are resuming their education whether in the country or abroad. For those packing up to leave in the coming days, some things become very important for them to pack up as well; things we probably take for granted in our daily life. But for them, they become their connection to home, to their family in Lebanon, and to the life they are leaving behind for another year of education abroad. Can you guess what these items could be? Let’s take a look:
This one is pretty cliché, true, but before you even deem it silly, don’t you really have one? Yep, I thought so! This keychain never loses its scent, always smelling like the cedar tree. And if you are like most I know, you probably have your name marked on it….
While most of our youngsters chose to ignore our classic or traditional Lebanese songs, it is what they think to take with them after a year abroad. It is that variety of songs and music that they will be listening to the most in their dorm, as they sigh for the homeland they miss.
Students abroad decorate their dorm however they see fit; however, for the Lebanese, the family picture is inevitable; maybe one and probably more, reminding them that they are loved and the thought empowers them when things get tough away from home.
Right! It is one of the things a leaving student find it important to take with her or him: A sibling’s shirt or sweater sneaked in the suitcase without the siblings’ knowledge. Whether they would wear it or not is irrelevant. For these students in the dorm away from home, that piece of clothing makes them feel that their sibling is not so far away.
Mind you, that’s when our students go all out with their patriotic (emotionally proud) side; once away among other nationalities. The flag goes then up, on the wall or the shelf, big or small. And that’s also when all the positive features of their homeland surge abundantly in their minds and in their exchanges with others.
Somehow, our Lebanese mothers get into the game here, whether asked to or not. You probably know how it goes. The zaatar bag, the pack of Kaak, the box of maamoul or baklava, the bag of mixed nuts, and any and all non-perishable food that can withstand the flight over the oceans and can fit in the suitcase. Not half the kitchen goes in there as mom so wishes, but certainly, half the suitcase gets filled with it… with mom and dad promising to pay the extra suitcase.
Aside from the Lebanese flag hanging on the wall of their dorm, our students do want to reinforce their statement of origin with an item or two uniquely Lebanese. It doesn’t matter how the pride would seem arrogant to others, and in what shape and form it is reflected, that item must be there for all to see.
It is kind of a ritual for Lebanese leaving the homeland to pay a visit to their religious site and bring along a blessed article. A couple of days before departure is when our youth suddenly feel the most connected or re-connected to their spiritual beliefs. And if some just don’t, their mothers would make sure to pack it out for them to have it in their bedroom abroad.
It could turn kind of emotional when the departure is also about leaving one’s sweetheart behind. When that is the case, the girlfriend or boyfriend makes sure to be remembered daily with a gift chosen with love and some tears. That precious reminder will be more often than not on the dorm’s nightstand.
We wish all our students taking their flights or settling down already in their dorms all the best of success and a lot of courage!