“Accepting Others in their Differences”
The French Language and Literature Department at the Faculty of Human Sciences, at Beirut Arab University in collaboration with the Paris-Sorbonne University, the French Institute and the Francophone University Agency, organised a conference under the title of “Accepting Others in their Differences” at Beirut Campus in the presence of Former Swiss President Mr. Pascal Couchepin, Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon S.E. Mme Monika Schmutz Kirgöz, Cultural Attaché in Swiss Embassy in Lebanon Mr. Michel Abou Khalil, Dr. Mathew Weeger representing the Educational Cooperation for the French Language in the French Embassy in Lebanon, BAU President Professor Amr Galal El Adawi, BAU Secretary General Dr. Omar Houri, Faculty Deans and Staff, BAU students and researchers.
The two-day conference aimed at enhancing the francophone presence at Beirut Arab University and shedding light on significant contemporary societal issues from literary, cultural, historical and political angles, thus making room for convergence, dialogue and openness.
The conference included panel discussions during which the participating researchers presented important research papers and presentations on the history of the concept of diversity and the political, social, cultural and religious obstacles that prevented it from being achieved, highlighting the factors of image, identity, language and culture. There were discussions in Arabic, English and French as well on the issues of cultural identity and means of achieving social diversity through dialogue.
The conference was inaugurated with the Lebanese National Anthem and the BAU Anthem. After a welcoming speech by the Conference Presenter Dr. Sophie Salloum, the Head of the French Language and Literature Department at BAU, Professor Nadia Iskandarani, spoke about identity saying that it is no longer limited to the date and place of birth, but is achieved through openness to the other and keeping up with the differences, always affirming the other’s freedom of expression and the necessity to show respect for language, religion and scientific and educational backgrounds.
In his speech, the representative of the Educational Cooperation for the French Language in the French Embassy in Lebanon, Dr. Matthew Weeger, stressed that this event constitutes a message of support to Beirut Arab University as well as the academic, educational and cultural cooperation with the university.
Dean of Faculty of Human Sciences, Professor Mayssa El Nayyal, spoke of the urgent need to create and strengthen social ties, and to foster a culture of respect for diversity that enriches society while promoting a culture of mutual respect. Prof. El Nayyal pointed out that acceptance, openness and tolerance are some of the essential traits of the conference.
In his speech, President El Adawi said that the conference mission is similar to BAU’s as both embrace difference and diversity through the various cultures and nationalities, attaching great importance to accepting the other, openness and tolerance.
Former Swiss President Pascal Couchepin said that Lebanon is a country that embraces all differences, praising the proceedings of the conference which he considered one of the signs of hope. Couchepin noted that history has recorded many convictions about differences in order to build a world of peace.
The conference concluded with a number of recommendations, the most important of which is the need to know the other's origins in order to understand their own way of thinking and their vision of the world, and, at the level of partner, family and friends, respect the other's way of expressing their thoughts, feelings and duties. The recommendations focused on the role of the school which must play a large role at the level of teaching dialogue with the other.