Marita Kassis, Coordinator for Study Abroad & International Exchange
Marita Kassis is a coordinator at LAU’s Outreach and Civil Development unit, and is part of the effort to connect the community to the vital work of the United Nations and its agencies in Lebanon. We asked her a few questions about the first LAU-UN Day which will take place on April 27th.
In a nutshell, what is LAU-UN Day?
LAU-UN Day is a yearly event whereby UN agencies will expose their structure, achievements and upcoming projects to the community. LAU students, faculty and staff will have the chance to network with these agencies, familiarize themselves with their publications and have a better sense of what the UN’s daily activities are. The newly founded LAU Outreach and Civic Engagement Unit (OCE) launched this partnership with the United Nations Information Center in Beirut (UNIC) in order to raise awareness of the social and developmental activities that students can partake in.
What was the impetus behind LAU-UN Day?
In LAU’s mission statement, there is reference to outreach and civic action, emphasizing that LAU does not only focus on academic achievements but that it aims to shape personalities and world class citizens. As Dr. Joseph Jabbra said, “Our mission at LAU goes far beyond simply educating our students in the classroom. Our hope is to create future leaders, and in order to successfully achieve this goal, we must be able to provide more than just classroom lectures. We must lead by example and become integral members of our community.”
The UN is founded on development, cultural activities and humanitarian assistance. Such a partnership will help promote LAU’s commitment to society through the celebration of International UN Days, the participation in activities outside campus, and the promotion of international principles and values. This will give our students the possibility to first and foremost be engaged in the international community and appreciate differences.
Can you name some of the 22 agencies that will be on site during LAU-UN Day?
Among the 22 agencies present in Lebanon, 17 will take part in this year’s LAU-UN Day. They are:
- UN Development Programme
- UN Industrial Development Organization
- UN High Commissioner for Refugees
- UN Population Fund
- UN Volunteers
- International Labor Organization
- UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
- Food and Agriculture Organization
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
- UN Children’s Fund
- World Health Organization
- Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
- UN Interim Force in Lebanon
- UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
Is LAU-UN Day solely for students or can alumni participate?
The campus will be open to all those interested in knowing more about UN’s civic action and its social outreach. Students, alumni, academicians, and all of LAU’s community are invited to attend both the agencies’ booths on campus and the opening ceremony, which will be attended by Dr. Jabbra and the director of UNIC, Mr. Bahaa El Koussy.
LAU-UN Day is expected to be an annual event; what do you hope to do in the future as it develops?
This is our first year, and since not everyone is aware of UN’s activities on the social level, we perceive this as an introductory year, where the main aim is to present the agencies, their publications and activities. Last year LAU students pledged an oath to implement the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs). This year, OCE promoted civic action and commitment, and LAU Model United Nations celebrated the year of the youth. As it develops, we hope that this event will become a pioneer in endorsing international causes, believing that the power of youth can make a difference.
Click here to learn more about LAU-UN Day, which takes place on April 27, 2011.