The delegation of the World Council for the Youth toured South America
From October 11th to October 29th, 2018, the World Lebanese Cultural Union’s World Council for the Youth (WLCUY) made history by embarking on the first ever World Council tour, the destination being South America. The trip was commenced by WLCUY President Mr. Sergio de los Ríos Feghali (Bogotá, Colombia), Secretary General Ms. Christina Salamy (Ottawa, Canada), Cultural Affairs Officer Mr. José Luis Kalil Lahud (Bogotá, Colombia), Media Officer Ms. Tatiana Azzi (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), and Treasurer Mr. Ignacio Saba (Rosario, Argentina), as well as Head of Communications for Colombian-Lebanese youth group Juventud Colombo-Libanesa (JUCOLI), Ms. Ximena Manrique Succar (Bogotá, Colombia).
During the trip, the WLCUY officials travelled to various cities in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil with the intention of visiting Lebanese youth groups affiliated to the organization. Under the slogan “Lebanese supports Lebanese”, the aim of these visits was to learn about each group’s history and dynamics, to assist and advise them where needed with the purpose of strengthening the bonds between the Lebanese youth in their countries, and to offer any support from the global body in order for their groups to continue to grow and promote the Lebanese culture abroad. The WLCUY officials also had the opportunity to formally meet with dignitaries within each country and share a brief description of the WLCU Youth with the hopes of gaining support for the Lebanese youth in the diaspora; they explained the WLCUY’s purpose, structure, and ongoing projects, including their World Conference for the Youth, LEBolution.
The tour began in Argentina where the WLCUY Council met with various local chapters of Juventud de la Unión Cultural Argentino Libanesa (JUCAL), an organization run by Argentinian-Lebanese youth and dedicated to preserving and promoting Lebanese culture in their country for the past 34 years!
The first stop was Mendoza, where members of local chapter JUCAL Mendoza welcomed them with open arms and shared their experiences as members of the organization. The WLCUY officials then travelled to the city of San Juan where they were invited to take part in JUCAL’s XXI National Congress, a three-day event hosted by the local chapter JUCAL San Juan at Club Sirio Libanés in which over 80 Lebanese Youth from all over Argentina participated in interactive activities like cooking workshops, Lebanese dialect classes and an interactive discussion panel that touched upon subjects like the economic relationship between Lebanon and its diaspora. The WLCUY Council and JUCAL officials had the chance to meet with the Governor of the Province of San Juan, Mr. Sergio Uñac, a Lebanese descendant himself, who highlighted the role and historical importance of Lebanese emigration in the province.
Next on the agenda was Rosario, where the WLCUY Council had the pleasure of meeting local chapter Juventud Libanesa de Rosario – JUCAL Rosario and attending one of their weekly council meetings. The local youth chapter explained the various activities they carry out throughout the year as well as large-scale projects they have hosted in recent years such as JUCAL’s XX National Congress in 2017 and their National Formation Encounter in 2018, a three-day event dedicated to educating the younger generations on Lebanon, Lebanese emigration and their role as members of the diaspora. Rosario was also marked by special meetings with traditional folklore group Firqat Al Arz, who invited the WLCUY officials to a rehearsal, and with former WLCU Youth President Mr. Dimas Chantiri, who shared his advice and experience with the current Council along with a meaningful motivational speech.
To end their time in Argentina, the WLCUY officials traveled to Buenos Aires where they met with His Excellency Ambassador of Lebanon in Argentina Mr. Johnny Ibrahim. They also had the opportunity to meet with local chapter JUCAL Buenos Aires, and officials from Unión Cultural Argentino Libanesa, WLCU Hispanic American Regional Council, and Club Libanés de Buenos Aires.
The WLCUY Council then travelled to Montevideo, Uruguay where they were received by the wonderful Lebanese Youth from their affiliate chapter Asociación de Jóvenes Uruguayo Libaneses (AJUL). During their four-day stay, the WLCUY officials were privileged to have been invited to a Charity Gala hosted by Centro Cultural Uruguayo Libanés and the Lebanese Embassy in Uruguay, which included performances by Ensamble Byblos and Ballet Marhaba to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Independence Day of Lebanon. A formal visit was then made to the Lebanese Embassy in Montevideo to meet with His Excellency Ambassador of Lebanon in Uruguay, Mr. Ali Al-Ghazzawi, as well as a visit to Lebanese club Sociedad Libanesa to meet with WLCU Uruguay Chapter officials.
The WLCUY Council then packed their bags and flew to Brazil where the Honourable Consul of Lebanon in Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Alejandro Bittar, hosted them for a formal visit in which they had the opportunity to discuss various aspects of Lebanese emigration to South America, particularly Brazil, the country with the world’s most populous Lebanese community. The final destination of the trip was the big city of São Paulo. There, the WLCUY Council were hosted by WLCU officials Mr. Georges Khouri and Mr. Elie Hakme, and were invited to the traditional weekly Thursday dinner at the Monte Libano Lebanese club in the company of Lebanese youth from local WLCUY affiliated chapter Juventude Libano Brasileira (JULIBRA). A formal visit and lunch with the Honourable General Consul of Lebanon in São Paulo Mr. Rudy El Azzi was an opportunity to reflect on the strength of the Lebanese emigration in Brazil and exchange ideas on how to further motivate the Brazilian-Lebanese youth to connect with their homeland and engage with their community.
The members of the WLCUY Council defined this trip as an unforgettable experience. It was an experience they can only compare with their World Conference in Lebanon – a visit to the homeland in the company of 200 young Lebanese from around the world – and one that helped motivate the youth in South America to take part in next year’s edition of LEBolution with hopes of making it the most influential youth diaspora trip to date.
It was an experience they learnt and grew from; an experience in which they connected with Lebanese youth throughout South America creating lasting bonds; an experience where the unique human touch of the Lebanese youth overwhelmed any institutional elements; an experience they wish to share with all Lebanese emigration and foster the sense of community outside the homeland.
It was an experience that reinforced the idea that Lebanese support Lebanese.
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