This past Saturday, the Triangle Lebanese Association (TLA) may have held their 16th annual Lebanese Festival, but it was my first time witnessing the event. As a NC State graduate student, I rarely receive the opportunity to go out and enjoy the festivities in downtown Raleigh. So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to represent the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies. The festival started off brilliantly, with plenty of sunlight and a little too much wind. Luckily, packaging tape was acquired, and I was ready to inform the public of the new Cedars in the Pines exhibit. However, as I directed festival-goers to the North Carolina Museum of History, I realized I was the one receiving an education. The TLA dance troupes were amazing and their energy was infectious. The talented second-graders on stage certainly inspired me to learn a few steps. Subtly attempting my own version of the dabke, I was greeted by several visitors. One man reminisced of the close-knit community in Concord, NC. Dr. Raja Khalifa stopped by from the AUB Alumni tent and jokingly asked if I recognized him from his photo on the exhibit’s flyer. A young festival-goer was pleasantly surprised that his relatives, Isabel and Ellis Zaytoun, appeared alongside our program’s insignia. It was a pleasure to interact and engage with such a proud community.
I have been honored to work with the Khayrallah Program for the past eight months, a program that was designed to “research, preserve, and publicize the history of the Lebanese-American community in North Carolina.” At the TLA’s 16th Annual Lebanese Festival, I saw that mission statement in action. For more highlights from the festival, head to TLA’s Facebook page!