Being a new face on campus isn’t always easy, but the newly Student Association-chartered Lebanese Student Association (LSA) tackled the challenge head-on. As a new club on campus, LSA is trying to spread the word on what the organization is about.
Joseph Seif, founder and president of LSA and a sophomore majoring in political science, said that the focus of the club is to introduce the Binghamton University campus to Lebanese culture.
“The main purpose of the Lebanese Student Association is to celebrate Lebanese culture and reconnect lost Lebanese [descendants] at Binghamton University back to the motherland,” Seif wrote in an email. “The Lebanese diaspora is pretty big across the world and LSA at BU aims at putting students of the Lebanese diaspora back into the Lebanese atmosphere and fall in love with Lebanon.”
Seif also stressed that the student group is anti-political, meaning that it solely wants to focus on representing the Lebanese student body and culture rather than getting into political issues.
Since LSA has only been SA-chartered for one semester, its general body meetings centered on how to establish itself in the campus community and to figure out exactly what its goals are. Additionally, some of its meetings served as educational opportunities to talk about Lebanon’s culture and customs.
So far, the organization has had one fundraiser in which members of LSA accompanied Seif to Basha’s Lebanese Grill, a restaurant on Vestal Parkway that Seif part-owns. The members learned how to make baklava, a sweet dessert pastry made of chopped nuts and honey or syrup. LSA then sold the baklava in a fundraiser.
Seif said that the organization wanted to conduct more events on campus, but ran into unforeseen difficulties.
“We are still a bit unclear with what we can do and can’t, but at least we know the people to contact and ask questions,” Seif wrote. “For example, knowing how to screen a movie on campus wasn’t as easy as I thought and needs a lot of planning. Although we’ve made ourselves familiar with the system and different opportunities the university can offer, I just feel like there’s more we don’t know.”
LSA also collaborates with the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C., to work on a national movement to connect and unite Lebanese student organizations across the United States.
“I’m trying to put LSA BU on the forefront of this movement because I believe that LSA members are dedicated and love their culture and country and would like to take that extra step to connect with other Lebanese [students] across the U.S.,” Seif wrote.
Karen Awayda, secretary of LSA and a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, agreed that the club’s members are dedicated to sharing their appreciation of Lebanese culture.
“I personally enjoy being a part of the LSA because being Lebanese is big part of who I am as a person.” Awayda said. “And to be able to have an established group of people who feel the same way as I do and want to spread the same love for the culture as I do is a really unique and wonderful thing.”
Since the semester is coming to a close, LSA is looking forward to next semester. The organization tabled at BU’s open house, which Seif said was helpful in attracting prospective members. Additionally, LSA is already planning events for the fall semester.
“Next semester we aim at screening a Lebanese movie called ‘The Insult’ where a Lebanese [refugee] and Palestinian refugee in Lebanon have an argument that leads them to court,” Seif wrote. “The movie ends with a powerful message of unity and understanding.”
Awayda said the group looks forward to communicating that unifying message by connecting with different multicultural clubs at BU.
“I’d love for us to work with more of the other multicultural groups on campus and kind of establish ourselves as one of them.” Awayda said. “And to hopefully just keep up a good reputation and keep spreading the love we have for the culture.”