Student Op-Ed: Endless Opportunities at LAUMore in this issue
Opportunities that allow students to grow, develop and hone their talent can sometimes be hard to come by. Yet at LAU, students like myself have more opportunities available to them than they have time for.
These opportunities, which range from on-campus extracurricular activities and clubs to off-campus volunteer experiences and internships, remind me how privileged I am to be at an institution that values these life-changing experiences. Sure, times can be tough when I feel there are not enough hours in a day to do everything I have set out to achieve. However, despite that, I would not have it any other way because each day I see myself develop into a better version of myself as a result of my intense involvement on campus.
From running LAU’s Book Club to taking on trainer and committee director roles in the Model Arab League, from being school relations coordinator for the Model UN to serving as a committee director for Global Classrooms International Model United Nations in New York, no day is ever boring. Everything I do has improved me professionally and morally, including gaining new skills that I will take to the workplace and building up a network of like-minded peers.
Some students might put off university involvement to devote more time to their studies. What they might not realize is that when you have limited time, you become a master planner and begin using your time more wisely. In fact, I find that when I am the busiest, I am also the most productive. I have even managed to keep my grades up and maintain my place in LAU’s Honors Program, which has been a far easier feat than I imagined owing to discipline and a very organized schedule.
In addition to my course load and extracurricular activities, I have made sure to take on experiences and internships that have proved life-changing. One such experience was this past summer in America participating in the Study of the United States Institute for Student Leaders-Religious Pluralism program, a five-week academic exchange program run by the Department of State. Getting accepted into the program alone was an achievement that I owe to LAU for the strong sense of leadership that it has nurtured in me, being one of only five university students from Lebanon to take part in it.
Through this fully funded exchange program, I had the chance to learn about so many religions, visit religious sites, volunteer, engage in intellectual discussions with program participants, and, most of all, enjoy an unforgettable experience I will cherish for a lifetime. This is all thanks to LAU and its dedicated faculty and staff, who made me aware of this exchange program and encouraged me to apply.
Students, new or otherwise, should make sure to check for similar opportunities, as they are available for all, and LAUers are the perfect candidates for such opportunities because our institution instills in us the skills and knowledge required.
Being an active student has given me so much, including a deeply held appreciation for my university. LAU is not just an academic institution. It is a place I call home and a microcosm of the world that we aspire to create. More than that, it is an institution that attempts to shape the future leaders of the world.
Christelle Barakat is a third-year political science / international affairs student.