WASHINGTON, BEIRUT—While AMIDEAST — an educational organization focused on the Middle East — may not be a household name in the United States, the Washington‐based nonprofit is banking on name recognition within the large Lebanese, Armenian, and Middle Eastern expatriate communities in Southern California as it seeks support to expand its educational and training programs for youth in Lebanon.
Spearheading the effort is Los Angeles businessman Harry Nadjarian, who relocated to the United States during Lebanon’s civil war. As one of 30 prominent business and civic leaders on the AMIDEAST/Lebanon Advisory Board (ALAB), the CEO of IMP Inc. believes that the Lebanese and Armenian communities have a first‐hand account of the challenges facing the youth in the Middle East and, given the right conditions, they want to offer help. To elevate awareness and bring together the pillars of the community, he proposed holding the First Annual Education Hero Award Gala at the Beverly Hilton on October 14.
“Many Lebanese Americans and Armenians, like myself, who grew up in Lebanon feel very attached to our homeland and responsible for its future. Our families still living there benefit from AMIDEAST’s deep commitment to the development of Lebanon and its people,” Mr. Nadjarian explains. “The gala offers us a way to come together and express our commitment to the future of Lebanon in a tangible way.”
That a large Lebanese expatriate community exists in Southern California is clear. Los Angeles’ “sister city” tie to Lebanon’s capital city, Beirut, is symbolic of this link. Less obvious, for those unfamiliar, is AMIDEAST’s role, which dates back to 1968, when the organization opened an office in Beirut.
In the nearly 50 years since then, AMIDEAST has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals in all regions of the country through its programs in the fields of education, English language, and career training. Even during the tumult of the country’s 15‐year civil war, its commitment to its educational mission was undeterred.
The organization’s main Beirut office stayed open and satellite locations were established to ensure its accessibility to members of Lebanon’s diverse communities and to help them overcome the destruction of transcripts, incomplete coursework, and the widespread breakdown of communication infrastructure (mail and telephone) caused by the conflict. Its educational advising services were the largest among the eight countries.
The First Annual Education Hero Award Gala is billed as an evening of excellence and elegance. It will honor the late Lebanese philanthropist and entrepreneur Maroun Semaan for his significant contributions to the advancement of education in Lebanon. Selected to be the first recipient of the award, Mr. Semaan believed deeply in the power of education to transform lives and prepare citizens to be effective leaders. Gala‐goers can look forward to a program of entertainment by leading Lebanese celebrities: superstar Najwa Karam, award‐winning Lebanese‐Armenian pianist Guy Manoukian, and Ricardo Karam, the well‐known and highly respected multimedia journalist, who will host the event.
Proceeds raised from the gala will enable AMIDEAST to expand their proven educational and training programs that benefit youth in Lebanon. These initiatives have already enabled more than 100 young men and women to win over $18 million in scholarships and financial aid to study and earn degrees at American universities and colleges. Other programs advance employability and entrepreneurship among the country’s youth. Backing from the prominent community and business leaders who care about the stability of Lebanon has proved critical to the success of these efforts.
“By honoring the Legacy of Maroun Semaan, we are recognizing a man whose success was rooted by his academic achievement — which was made possible by scholarships and philanthropy. We hope others will be inspired to support education,” says Mr. Anis Nassar, chairman of the ALAB. “Having Harry Nadjarian as Gala chair and the inimitable talents of Najwa Karam, Guy Manoukian, and Ricardo Karam, attendees will be transported from Beverly Hills to Beirut in spirit.”
AMIDEAST/Lebanon is joining with its advisory board to hold its First Annual Gala in Beverly Hills on October 14, 2017, in order to raise funds that will enable it to help promising young men and women gain the education and training they need to realize their potential. Check out the Gala’s website to learn how you can participate and support this worthy cause.
America-Mideast Educational and Training Services, Inc., or AMIDEAST, is an American nonprofit organization engaged in international education, training, and development assistance. Founded in 1951, AMIDEAST is headquartered in Washington, DC, with a network of field offices in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank/Gaza, and Yemen. AMIDEAST has operated continuously in Lebanon for nearly 50 years. The AMIDEAST/Lebanon Advisory Board consists of 30 prominent business and civic leaders in Lebanon, the United States, and the Gulf.