The article by Mitch Smith for the Inside Higher Ed covers the move by American students, interested in studying in the Middle East, to Beirut as regional favorites fall foul to the Arab Spring. However, what is interesting about the article is that Mitch never fails to remind the reader how dangerous Lebanon was/is:
Not so long ago, Western students wanting to study in the Arab world flocked to Cairo and Damascus.
But as last year’s Egyptian uprising and enduring unrest in Syria made those once-secure locales more dangerous, Americans wanting a safer semester abroad started going in larger numbers to a place long synonymous with war and danger but of late experiencing peace: Beirut.
War and danger, check.
The small country that remains officially at war with Israel and torn from a series of armed conflicts…
War torn, got it.
The U.S. State Department maintains a travel warning, advising U.S. citizens to avoid the country on account of “safety and security concerns” and because “the potential… for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains.” Many American universities will not support study abroad programs in countries with travel warnings, and sometimes refuse to accept transfer credits from institutions in those nations or withhold financial aid for students traveling there against the advice of the government and college.
…relations between the U.S. and Lebanon are strained…
Strained relations cant be good.
But Beirut – despite a reputation that sometimes casts it as a Middle Eastern version of Pyongyang or Mogadishu – is thriving and Western interest is growing, American University officials there insist.
Looks Like Pyongyang Certificate anyone?
The whole beware of the boogie Beirut monster just got me questioning what was the whole point of the emphasis on security in Lebanon? Does the world over believe Lebanon is a dangerous place with war lurking around the corner. Yes they do, I have over 200 Looks Like Beirut posts to prove it. I fail to see the need to mention it in every other paragraph.
Oh, did I forget that the title of the article is called Unlikely Shelter. Nevertheless, there are a few good points to come out of the article from students who experience Beirut first-hand:
[Dylan] Sodaro said it was a great choice, giving him the chance to volunteer in Palestinian refugee camps and continue mastering Arabic. He hopes to one day work with the United Nations, perhaps in Lebanon.
…the Connecticut native said it was a great semester in a place that he said is often misrepresented in news accounts.
“I loved the country,” Sodaro said. “The perception in the West is it’s not really safe because we don’t really hear updates about what normal life is like in Beirut.