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4th Celebration of the Life and Achievements of Dr. Basil Fuleihan

On Saturday 18 April 2009, a ceremony was held at Sursock Palace in Beirut to mark the 4th anniversary of the passing of Dr. Basil Fuleihan. During the ceremony, Dr. Fuleihan’s life and contributions to the Lebanese people were celebrated through speeches, music, a film and through the presentation of awards for the first annual Basil Fuleihan Foundation Words for Peace Competition.

Friends, family, politicians and dignitaries gathered in the lush gardens to honor Dr. Basil Fuleihan. They recalled his life as a gift to the Lebanese people while sharing words of support for Lebanon’s future and for the fulfillment of Basil's dreams for Lebanon: the country he so loved and for which he held so much hope.

The ceremony provided an opportunity to announce the winners and present the awards for the first Basil Fuleihan Words for Peace Competition ’09. The event commenced with the Lebanese National Anthem, followed by a Word of Prayer by Rev. Habib Badr. Mozart’s “Ave Verum” was then performed by Dr. Reem Deeb, soprano, and a short video titled “A Dream Becoming True” was shown.

Guest speaker H.E. Dr. Ghazi Youssef, MP, representing H.E. Sheikh Saad Hariri, MP, delivered an address. This was followed by the musical piece “Memory”, beautifully played by harpist Kirsty Griffiths. H.E. Dr. Salah Eddine Al-Bashir (former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Industry & Trade, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan), Ms. Nada Al- Nashif (ILO Regional Director) and Mr. Ali Jaber (Dean of Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Communication, Dubai) were among the guest speakers who reminisced about their encounters and relationship with the late Dr. Fuleihan and spoke of his achievements.

The Awards were announced and distributed by Rayna and Rayan, Dr. Basil Fuleihan’s children, to further highlight the importance of youth. Upon distribution, they released doves as a symbol of peace and its importance among Lebanese youth. Moving words by Rayna stirred all attendees’ emotions and were followed by another short video: “Who Am I?”

Mrs. Fuleihan delivered the ceremony’s closing address. She focused on peace, its significance for today’s generation, and the crucial need for Lebanese citizens to unite and work towards a better, thriving and peaceful future.

Excerpts from Guest Speaker Speeches

H.E. MP Dr. Ghazi Youssef representing H.E. MP Saad Hariri:
“Basil fought and stayed alive for 64 days. This is true to his spirit and strong will to confront adversity that clearly marked his short and rich life. All those who knew him, noticed his brilliant mind, quick wit, humility, generosity and graciousness. These attributes served him well. His love and devotion for his country and his commitment to contribute to its development were callings he had to fulfill. He continually demonstrated outstanding moral courage, impeccable sense of fairness as well as innate leadership skills - skills that empowered him to accomplish every part of Rafic Hariri’s economic reform plan.”

H.E. Dr. Salah Eddine Al-Bashir, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Industry & Trade, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan:
“There’s a deep wound in the heart for an untimely separation from a bright and productive mind that ignorance and darkness couldn’t tolerate. Basil was the example that was thought high of, the specimen for Arab youth that represents change and promises a better future in all fields of development. He was a school on his own, believing in reform and its significance and necessity, while respecting his knowledge, his responsibility and his contentment in finding crucial policies for economic growth in Lebanon and the Arab region.”

Ms. Nada Al Nashif, Regional Director, ILO:
“Dr. Basil Fuleihan’s life was full of hope and reform plans. He was a symbol of the proud Lebanon seeking to reclaim its sovereignty. He headed policy seminars and workshops supporting a brave agenda. He did it with exemplary efficiency combining sharp intellect and smart management, navigating the fine line between national needs and donor priorities as he kept his focus on impact results. He was an inspiration to many because of the standard he set in public services, the ethical framework he honoured, his involuntary sacrifice that made a difference.”

Mr. Ali Jaber, Dean of Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Communication:
Mr. Jaber successfully managed to recall some of the comments and facts made about the late Dr. Basil Fuleihan by prominent journalists, dignitaries and by his closest friends and allies. In a moving speech, he spoke about Basil the student, the politician, the economist, the friend, the father, the husband, the son, the brother, combining all to form a picture of a truly unique individual who has made a difference in Lebanon and amongst his family and friends. He ended his speech with echoing words quoting H.E. Mr. Ghassan Tueni, MP and Editor-in-Chief of An-Nahar newspaper, saying: “We will always remember you smiling until our last breath.”

The First Words for Peace Competition

The First annual Basil Fuleihan Foundation Words for Peace Competition ‘09 (BFWfP’09) was launched in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in October 2008. The competition’s aim was to give children, in public and private schools between the ages of 13 and 18, the opportunity to present their own innovative vision and interpretation of peace. Mrs. Fuleihan stressed, in an interview with An Nahar newspaper, that this competition aims at encouraging and promoting innovative ideas about peace and its implementation, specifically by today’s generation, the source of our future leaders. With the paralyzed situation in Lebanon, voices need to be unleashed throughout the country, spreading the concept of peace in which the late Dr. Fuleihan staunchly believed, the path that the late Prime Minister Rafic Hariri initiated. Dr. Fuleihan wanted a united Lebanon for his children and all its citizens. Mrs. Fuleihan said: “The subject of peace comes to remind us that we should not repeat the war experience and the spark that ignited it. We should not forget that we are passers-by in this world and we are all invited to fend off hatred and bitterness and live in peace.”

The competition’s aim was not to have participants present an academic approach to the meaning of peace but rather to give a personal account of how they themselves perceive peace. The mode of interpretation was left open to applicants, enabling them to approach the issue from various angles: communal, political, social, cultural or personal.

The deadline for submission of essays and drawings was December 1st, but due to the overwhelming response, the deadline was extended to January 31st 2009, by which time 107 applications (60 from the private sector and 47 from the public sector) had been received. This competition generated a great deal of interest in schools across Lebanon. Its success marked not only wide interest in peace but also a huge social development.

To ensure impartiality, all submissions were rendered anonymous via an electronically assigned number. Anonymity was preserved throughout the jury selections until the final jury was ready to interview candidates who had reached the final round.

The competition consisted of three different stages. In the first instance, submissions were reviewed by two different committees. The jury consisted of a group of professionals from the Basil Fuleihan Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and other institutions.

Members of Committee I, charged to assess written submissions, were:

- Instructor Grace Abu Khaled
- Journalist Rola Baydoun
- Poet Hasan Zbeid

Members of Committee II, charged to assess visual artwork, were:

- Theatrical artist Boutros Ruhana
- Artist Reem Al Jundi
- Professor of Theatre Dr. Karim Dakroub

During the second stage of the competition, another committee reviewed the works.

The members of this committee were:

- Dr. Bashshar Haydar, Professor, Chairperson, Department of Philosophy, AUB
- Walid Sadek, Artist and Writer
- Husam Itani, Writer and Analyst
- Dr. Nada Mneimneh, Ministry of Education and Higher Education
- Dr. Maha Yahya, UNDP

On the 10th of April ’09, the selected finalists were invited to attend a 30-minute interview in which they would defend their work before a high-profile final jury.

The Members of the Final Jury were:

- H.E. Mrs. Bahia Hariri, Ministry of Education and Higher Education
- H.E. Mr. Ghassan Tueni, MP and Publisher of An-Nahar; and
- Mrs. Yasma Fuleihan, Chairperson, Basil Fuleihan Foundation

Throughout all stages of the competition, the Committees assessed the work in terms of excellence, precision, depth, generalization, content and style. Owing to the exceptionally high standard of submissions, the Final Jury mutually agreed that it would present four, rather than two, prizes.

The nominated winners were:

CATEGORY I (ages 13-15)

- Cynthia Zarife (Essay)
- Mindy Jennifer Krause (Essay)
- Ali Harb (Visual Work)

CATEGORY II (ages 16-18)

- Amal El Baba (Essay)

Winner Overviews
(As published in An-Nahar newspaper)

Cynthia Zarife
Cynthia Zarife wrote a beautiful, moving story about the loss of a loved one during the war. The story highlighted the importance of peace that is found within each one of us, an imprisoned flame that needs to be released. Furthermore, she expressed her deepest desire and belief that it is crucial for the new generation to be aware of peace morals and principals.

Mindy Jennifer Krause
Mindy Jennifer Krause wrote a story about peace between two countries only to realize later that it was important to begin with peace at home among different communities, bridging the gap in order to spread the wings of peace worldwide. She believes that one has to accept the other because Lebanon is so diverse and our differences need to be discussed amicably and not acrimoniously.

Ali Harb
Ali Harb expressed his vision of peace in a lovely, symbolic painting where he describes nature as having a face, a figure and life. Besides, nature has a soul that lives and dies with us and we have to take good care of it. He continued to add that the connection between nature and peace is so strong that they coexist and affect one another. He will be using his brush as a tool of communicating with others about peace and its significance, thus enabling them to realize the dangers of ignoring the blessing of the community they enjoy today in Lebanon.

Amal El Baba
Amal El Baba wrote an exceptional piece expressing her thoughts in a metaphorical way that even static things were touched by her resolute message of peace. She hoped her voice would be heard. She added that during the process of writing this essay, she was overwhelmed by a sense of responsibility since peace was a delicate and important subject, a problem which communities, today, in Lebanon face in terms of security and political issues. She firmly wanted to convey this message. She concluded with beautiful words replacing the different colours of various political parties with a huge and bright rainbow covering the whole of Lebanon, melting over the green cedars to mark one and only one colour: white, the colour of peace.

Basil Fuleihan Foundation
20, rue Halwani, Sanayeh Sector, Beirut, Lebanon
Tel: +961-3202346, Fax: +961-1-344201
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