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Spring 2008 Vol. VI, No. 3

Maingate Connections

Reminiscences of the Campus

As a junior at AUB, I lived with three other students in a room directly under the clock tower in College Hall. At midnight the room shook and shuddered when the clock chimed twelve times.

On a recent walk on AUBís campus, I could not help but remember vividly the days I spent there (and in that clock tower) from 1943 to 1950 when I graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, which, in my days, was known as the School of Medicine.

The magnificent buildings of the campus are just as impressive as before. Except for College Hall, the exteriors have not changed much. Inside, things are different. In my days, College Hall had classrooms on the ground floor, the second floor was occupied entirely by the University Library, and there were student dormitories on the top floor, where I lived. You could enter directly into Ada Dodge Hall coming down from the steps of the Main Gate. There was a long corridor on the left side with the restaurant where students had their meals. The administrative offices, including the Registrarís Office and the office of the AUB president, were located on the right side of the corridor. Today the entire ground floor is occupied by a spacious restaurant for students and faculty.

I remember with nostalgia the shaded pathways where we used to loiter, and the benches where we used to sit, admiring the blue Mediterranean on one side and the snow-capped peaks of Sannine on the other. The Green Oval in front of Fisk and Jesup Halls, and the fountain next to College Hall, are relatively new features that make the campus even more attractive than it was in my days.

Although I was impressed with the physical changes of the campus I was struck even more by the changes in the student body. Recently, most of the students on campus seem to come from different parts of Lebanon. In my days, the campus was an international arena where students from the east and from the west coexisted in harmony. There were students from Iran, Afghanistan, and India. There were also students from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt with whom we had to speak in English because we could not understand each otherís dialect in Arabic. World War II was raging in Europe, and we had an influx of European Jews who came from Germany and Eastern Europe. We also had a number of pretty young Polish ladies who were staunch Catholics.

In first year medicine almost onethird of our class were European Jews. We also had four Polish ladies, and a Sikh gentleman from India in the class. When we were in third year medicine all the European Jews left when war broke out in Palestine in 1948. Two of the Polish ladies also left for different reasons, but the remaining two Polish ladies received their medical degrees with me in 1950.

With all these departures we ended up as one of the smallest classes to graduate from the School of Medicine. But even then our fifth year class in medicine was an international mix. The class had four students from Lebanon, five came from different towns in Syria, three from Palestine, two from Iraq, one from Jordan, an American from New York, and one from

Cyprus, the two Polish ladies I already mentioned, and the Sikh gentleman with his white turban. This was indeed an impressive international group of 20 students who received their medical degrees in 1950.

I have always been proud of having been an AUB student at a time when the experiences we gained from the varied cultural interchange was as valuable as the knowledge imparted to us in the classroom.

Jacob Thaddeus (MD í50)

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