What do you like about your Lebanon? What do you hate about your Lebanon? When Melinda Trochu asked these questions, she got answers from every angle. Trochu is a young French journalist who moved to Lebanon last year as part of an international volunteer program that gives young foreigners a year of experience working abroad.
Troshu didn’t understand Lebanon when she first arrived here. She never had the opportunity to be in a country with 18 religious sects. She was lost between the flags of numerous political parties, as opposed to the national flag, that fly in the city’s streets. To understand this conundrum, she launched a blog that has quickly become a free tribune for a number of young Lebanese under the age of 30 to express their thoughts. There, they answer a series of questions on how they view their Lebanon. She initially chose 15 guys and girls as a model to answer questions regarding the future of their country, their dreams and their intention to emigrate. The website is now linked to Facebook and Twitter, inviting everyone to share opinions of their homeland.
Available in English and French, the answers on jeuneslibanais.com [young Lebanese] are diverse and feature multiple themes and obsessions. Frustrated by the “composition” of their country, the young participants revealed their opinions, sometimes with a sense of humor, and other times with seriousness to reflect their reality.
In the “About” section of the website, Troshu wrote: “They are from the Twitter/Facebook generation, connected, multilingual, open to the world, and they live in one of the smallest countries on our planet.” Between disillusionment, commitment and resilience, she asked: “What do you expect of your Lebanon?” When she was asked why she chose Lebanon, Troshu said she learned the Arabic language when she was in university and she is interested in the Lebanese situation. Troshu is convinced that this country deserves the best. As a first step, she tried to understand the Lebanese mentality by choosing 15 young Lebanese with different mentalities, regardless of their religious sects or last names.
Troshu is back in France, and continues to follow the posts on her website. She believes that the youth in Lebanon can make change happen, and that Lebanon has a huge potential if it listens to them.
The Identity Of Lebanon
Rana, 22, student and translator
Rana likes diversity in the Lebanese society and Muslim-Christian co-existence, where each individual is free to go to a Christian or Muslim school. However, in Lebanon, she hates how the political parties’ attempt to control society, the lack of electricity and the absence of basic services. She also hates that her diploma doesn’t enable her to get a job that fits her qualifications, and that a Lebanese woman married to a non-Lebanese man is not able to pass on citizenship to her children. Rana, who is not affiliated to any political party or association, is confident that the youth will change this reality.
Candy, 29, environmental consultant
Candy loves Fayrouz in Lebanon and his favorite song is Eih Fi Amal [Yes, there is hope]. He also likes the diversity, hospitality and culture in Lebanon. Nevertheless, he hates the sectarianism and discrimination. He notes that sectarianism is the main problem because it has dropped the term “citizenship” from our daily vocabulary. Candy is pessimistic about the country’s future and said: “We have democracy… but we have not built a state nor an identity.” Candy loves Fayrouz, because she is the only one who has given an identity to Lebanon, and he can see his Lebanon in her songs.
Ali, 24, International relations student
Ali hates the Lebanese mentality in itself, and the classification of the regions. For example, how in Ashrafiyeh people are considered primarily French-speaking and Maronite, in Beirut they are Sunni and the Shia are trouble makers. He also hates pollution and the fact that the capital has become a concrete city. Ali shares the same obsessions, and is hoping to immigrate to Europe or Brazil and never come back, unless a rational awareness is raised. For him, a renaissance is required.
On the website, the youth represent the quote of Gibran Khalil Gibran: “You have your Lebanon and I have my Lebanon.” They responded to the initiative of a French girl who wanted to understand the Lebanese mentality, and so started to host a number of young Lebanese voices on her website. So far, Troshu has only received non-sectarian respondents. But one day, is she going to be visited by sectarian people who will honestly speak their minds?