From the Editors of MainGate
Ideas can spring out of the most unexpected circumstances. In September
2003, I was walking into the office after a leisurely lunch with
a colleague and I stumbled upon a 2:00 pm meeting…at 2:20
pm. I had forgotten the appointment entirely, perhaps because of
the fine weather, and had almost missed meeting with alumnus Nasrine
Gross (BA ’70), who had come to see me,
as co-editor of MainGate, upon the recommendation of New York-based
alumnus Necla Tschirgi (BA ’68, MA ’70). After profuse
apologies, I took Gross into one of the conference rooms and settled
down to hear about her work in Afghanistan, which Tshirgi had said
was quite remarkable and would be of interest to MainGate readers.
What was to have been a half hour appointment stretched out into
two hours. With modesty, Gross talked about her experiences in Afghanistan.
She had moved to Kabul in 2001 and since then has been there helping
to build up the social sciences at Kabul University and assist Afghani
women in their reintegration into society after years of oppression
under the despotic Taliban regime. Very moved by the story and Gross’s
passionate commitment to her homeland, I shared it with Coeditor
Ibrahim Khoury, and we were both immediately struck by the compelling
mix of AUB and community service that it revealed. It was then that
we decided to explore other evidence of that mix among other AUBites
and highlight some of our findings in this issue of MainGate.
We learned about alumnus Mary Najarian, based in Glendale, California,
who for the last twenty-five years has been devoting almost all
her free time to establishing a more sophisticated health care system
in Armenia. We came across compassion personified in the student
members of AUB’s Lebanese Red Cross Club, who are providing
badly needed assistance to the sight-impaired, the elderly, and
the children of Lebanon. We talked with the nurses at AUBMC and
discovered their remarkable dedication to extending patient care
services beyond the hospital and into the community through health
education programs. We visited in the Shatila refugee camp the Volunteer
Outreach Clinic that is run by AUB doctors and medical students,
who have little free time to spare, yet show up at the camp every
single weekend to dispense free primary health care to those who
can’t afford it. There are many other stories like these to
tell—at AUB and among its alumni across the world—if
only we had the space for them.
One may ask where this heightened AUB commitment to community service
comes from. We know it is rooted in the University’s fundamental
mission “to serve society”—but in the end we realize
that it is sometimes best not to ask too many questions. Just remain
in awe at how strongly it is being manifested and make sure it continues.
Ibrahim Khoury and Lynn Mahoney
Lynn Mahoney and Ibrahim Khoury
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