By: Vanessa Pellechio, Editor-in-Chief
BU student Robert Nixon went on an all-expense-paid trip to Beirut, Lebanon last summer for 10 days. This was Nixon’s first time traveling to the Middle East.
“I have resolved to go back in the future,” said the senior history major.
Nixon went through the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations to go on this trip and was provided funding from the university as well.
On the second night, Nixon was able to see a free concert outside in Beirut. The person singing was Najwa Karam, who Nixon was a fan of before the trip.
“A man in the crowd noticed my excitement, and leaned in to say ‘Najwa Karam number one!’ and I enthusiastically agreed,” Nixon continued.
The trip to Lebanon encompassed seeing the Lebanon Mountains, going through the Begaa Valley to visit Baalbek and spending most of the time in the capital.
When Nixon was in Beirut, he was impressed with how English was more understood than French.
“Arabic was the most commonly spoken and written language, but knowing a few basic phrases combined with English went a long way,” said Nixon.
Nixon went to Lebanon when there was some trouble in Tripoli, but the tour guides had the students avoid that area for protection.
“At that time things in the country were still fairly calm. The Syrian crisis was ongoing of course, reports about it dominated the Lebanese news while I was there, but the fighting was still mostly contained in Syria,” Nixon shared.
Nixon believes the best part came in two parts. Since this was his first trip outside the country, it was a whole new experience for him.
“The differences and the similarities in the sights, sounds, smells, culture, and people provided me with a new worldview almost overnight,” Nixon said.
Nixon also enjoyed how the program gave such a comprehensive view of Lebanon in a short time. He met government officials, business leaders, policymakers and media sources.
“So, in a way, the best part of the experience was the experience itself,” Nixon continued.
Nixon was able to empathize when gaining a better understanding of the country’s problems.
“I learned about the problems that it faces, the things that the Lebanese want to achieve and what they have already done. I got to experience a different culture, and see not only the differences from my own but also the similarities, and I learned from both of them,” Nixon shared.
Nixon encourages students to travel overseas because it provides a chance to understand the world in a whole different way.
“We aren't living in a constrained world any more, we are living in a global society,” said Nixon.