The woman stood in front of the registration station, curious as to why they were there. Myriam and Perla had pent just three hours the day before with their peers learning how to do simple health checks. Now the energetic 11th and 12th graders were running a 6-station health expo. “We want to help the community and we want to help you,” was Myriam’s easy reply as she took the woman’s information and Perla directed her to the nutrition booth.
On a humid summer morning, 34 teenagers from all over Lebanon descended on the Middle East University campus for the second annual three-day science camp from July 18-20, 2017. Dr. George Jackson, Arts & Sciences Faculty Dean, and Danny Barkanian, Recruiter and Events Coordinator, had spent the previous academic year visiting high schools and attending university recruitment events where they invited students to come to the camp.
The camp was officially opened by Pastor Rick McEdward, MEU Chairman of the Board and Middle East North Africa Union President. “After graduating from high school, I washed dishes and cleaned toilets, among other jobs, to pay for university,” McEdward told the teenagers, “and if you ask me to scrub a toilet again today, I won’t mind.” He emphasized the importance of those experiences to keep you humble and to be willing to serve others in any role in life, even if it means doing something you don’t like. McEdward shared how this experience motivated him to complete university and follow his calling which has led him around the world in ministry.
They then learned about MEU’s miraculous continuous existence since 1939 despite wars and conflict, as Dr. John Issa, Education Faculty Dean, shared some of its rich history. Dr. Jackson introduced them to marine biology, highlighting his work with the renowned International Census of Marine Life project.
In the afternoon, in preparation for the communityhealth expo, everyone learned how to take blood pressure and test blood sugar, illustrate the food pyramid at a nutrition booth, and talk about the importance of sunlight, exercise, and other lifestyle health principles. Wednesday found them setting up at Bouchrieh Adventist Secondary School, our secondary school just down the hill from MEU.
From an 18-year old Bangladeshi woman to an 86-year old Lebanese man, from mothers with young children and bags of groceries in tow to a well-dressed Nigerian charismatic evangelist excited to learn that MEU had recently gone to his country on a mission trip, they came. More than 50 people went through the expo, most of them brought in by the enthusiastic teenagers standing by the road handing flyers through open car windows and to curious passersby.
The visitors were able to address specific health issues with MENAU nurses Lorelle Boutros and Marcia McEdward and community volunteer physician Dr. Khodor Hassan. At the final booth which focused on trust, Pastor Fady Ghafary and two MEU pastoral students, Karim Kammouge and Jood Dowais, counseled and prayed with them. “Please make the camp longer next year so we can help more people!” suggested one teen.
On the last day, campers and staff enjoyed an excursion to Rabbit Island, a cultural heritage site that is also part of a protected nature reserve. The boats ferried them across a crystal clear Mediterranean Sea to the white sandy beach where they spent their time relaxing in the water and playing in the sand, followed by lunch in historic Jbeil. The teenagers left expressing a wish for the camp to be longer and promising to keep in touch with new friends. “It was an amazing summer camp, I’m looking for a reunion,” said Edward, echoing Marianne’s thoughts as she exclaimed, “I had so much fun these three days! Thank you for this wonderful experience.”
“What is the difference between Middle East University and any other university?” Dr. Jackson, coordinator of the new BSc in Biology with emphasis in pre-med at MEU, answers his own question. “We believe in service. We believe in reaching out to the community and meeting their physical and spiritual needs. You can go anywhere and get a degree but at MEU, you’re serving others and that is changing not only their lives but your own.”