Aya Jaber, a third-grade schoolgirl from South Lebanon, decided to take matters into her own hands (and put her dictation and writing skills to the test) by composing a letter and mailing it to the new Minister of Education, asking him to reform the official school year schedule.
Her innocent and enthusiastic letter amused the dwellers of Lebanon’s cyberspace and, surprisingly, was received and read by Minister Tarek Al-Majzoub. The little girl’s letter read:
Dear esteemed Minister of Education,
I am Aya Jaber from the third-elementary grade, section C (because of course). I ask you for an important request, which is to give us 3 days off school and 4 school days per week. Because we are young, we need to rest and sleep…
School is lessons, books, exams, notebooks, fatigue… Ouff, all of this!? We are all awaiting your reply (hand-drawn heart).
Yours Sincerely, Aya.
After intently reading Aya’s moody letter/scolding, Minister Al-Majzoub decided that her urgent matter could not be dismissed. So he wrote her back, telling the third-grade critic that her letter made him recall “my [old] dreams that matched yours; I wished the weekend was 4 days instead of 3.”
“However, it became clear to me over time that the path to success requires a commitment to the current time,” the minister explained, assuring the young student that he will do his best “to make the 5 school days smoother and more fun for her and her classmates.”
Before ending his final sentence with a hand-drawn smiley face, he concluded that “these will be actions, not just sayings,” jokingly referencing his recent press conference slip-up, before signing off the letter: “With love, Tarek Al-Majzoub.”
For context, when he made his first media statement after being appointed as the new Minister of Education, Minister Al-Majzoub mistakingly proclaimed, “Hopefully, our work will be utterances, not actions,” instead of the other way around.
The young writer’s story didn’t end there. Much to their bewilderment and delight, Aya Jaber’s family found the minister knocking at their door in their southern village of Yanouh, hours after the letter exchange.
He met face to face with his new pen-pal who had reminded him of his own childhood’s longing for fewer school days. He joined her and her family for breakfast, before finally posing for photographs with them.
This charming story involving MP Al-Majzoub is not the first to go viral on social media. The first instance was a photograph of him drawing a number from a bank’s ticket dispenser, before waiting alongside his fellow citizens for his number to come up.
Although such an occurrence shouldn’t normally be much of a curiosity – since, naturally, politicians operate under the rule of law like everyone else in their country – it’s certainly a rare sight in Lebanon for a minister to be seen personally running his/her own errands, let alone waiting in line respectfully, like everyone else.
Publicity stunts? They could be…
Either way, when it comes to judging Minister Al-Majzoub or any other Lebanese politician, it all eventually comes down to their political actions and the fulfillment of their duties.
Neither their words, however promising, nor their acts of kindness – however inspiring – can take the place of their responsibilities toward their people and country.