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Class notes: May Albert Rihani Receives the 2008 Khalil Gibran International Award
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Summer 2008 Vol. VI, No. 4

Class notes: May Albert Rihani Receives the 2008 Khalil Gibran International Award

Among the foremost educators in the field of international education of women, May Rihani (BA '68) is a leader of vision who has achieved enormous success not only in the education of women but also in their emancipation. Ms. Rihani is the Senior Vice President and Director of the Global Learning Group at the Academy for Educational Development, (AED). She is also the Director of the Center for Gender Equity at AED. She is the heir to one of the Arab world's most influential literary families of the last century.

Her mother, Loreen Shoucair, was a teacher and the foremost pioneer in developing children's literature in the Arab world. Her father, Albert Rihani, was a well-known editor and publisher, respected for his omniscient knowledge of Arabic literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Her uncle, Ameen Rihani, of course stands as one of the most influential figures of both Arabic-American literature and the Arab Literary Renaissance at the beginning of the twentieth century. His work has inspired thousands of Arab writers and has contributed to the development of the essay as a literary genre and free verse unknown before Rihani had set the example in his writings. Ameen Rihani was also a traveler, a philosopher, a diplomat, and poet who wrote in both English and Arabic; but above all, he was also a bridge builder between the East and the West.

In addition to her successful international achievements, she is a poet in her own right whose work has been translated into more than one language and is read by many people throughout the Arab world. She has also found time to promote projects connected with preserving the culture and civilization of Lebanon where she was born and grew up.

In America, her adopted land, she has worked to promote East-West relations as onetime President of the American University of Beirut Alumni Association of North America; as Chair of Min Ajl Lubnan Association; and as an active supporter of the work and thought of Ameen Rihani and of Kahlil Gibran. Ms. Rihani has written extensively, a selection of her works includes: Keeping the Promise: Five Benefits of Girls' Secondary Education (Washington, D.C. AED, 2006); Learning for the 21st Century: Strategies for Girls' Education in the Middle East and North Africa (UNICEF MENA Regional Office, 1993); Strategies to Promote Girls' Education: Policies and Programs That Work (New York: UNICEF, 1992) and Development as if Women Mattered (Washington DC, Overseas Development Council, 1978).

Therefore, in honor of May Rihani, the Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace Project has decided to present her with its distinguished international award in recognition of her outstanding leadership in promoting women's education throughout the world, and in appreciation of her services to the legacy of Ameen Rihani and Kahlil Gibran. The recipients of this award are always very carefully selected for their unique international contribution. Ms. Rihani joins two other distinguished recipients: the internationally renowned Lebanese thinker and author, Farid Salman; and the late Kathleen Raine, perhaps the greatest woman poet in English during the last century.

Suheil Bushrui, B.A., Ph.D., Hon L.H.D.
Professor and Director
Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace
Center for Heritage Resource Studies,
University of Maryland