Yesterday was a historic moment for the Lebanese diaspora community and for NC State University in Raleigh.
Crowded into the Park Alumni Center, NC State’s Chancellor announced the launch of the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies. This is the only center-outside of Lebanon-dedicated to research about the Lebanese Diaspora in the US and throughout the world, and to the dissemination of this knowledge to the scholarly community and general public. The only one! And it’s here, at NC State.
The fact that the Center found a home here is no surprise. 4 years ago, when the Lebanese in North Carolina Project was born, the mission was simple: research, preserve, and publicize the Lebanese-American experience in North Carolina. Because archives, libraries, and museums could only provide a small sampling of history, we asked the community for support. Our idea was that each community served as the custodian of their own history. We asked all of you to tell us your stories, share family photo albums, home movies, and treasured artifacts. We asked you to invite us to your cultural events, teach us your favorite recipes, and introduce us to your network of friends who may be able to do the same.
In these 4 years, we received such a generous outpouring that we accomplished in directing a full-length documentary, Cedars in the Pines, a traveling museum exhibition, educational programming for K-8 grade students in NC schools, and developed a digital archive of the rich material you provided. And all this with the historical narratives provided by the community. These cultural projects dealt with immigration, loss, racism, hard work, family ties, marriage, intergenerational relationships, politics and civic life, food and culinary traditions and more. You told us about your identity, about your journey, and about the concept of belonging.
After 4 years, we are taking what we learned from the community in North Carolina, and we are refocusing on the diaspora in the United States and the world. The Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies received $8.1 million to endow the center from Dr. Moise Khayrallah. It was his vision 4 years ago that inspired The Lebanese in North Carolina Project; his altruism that helped the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese Studies Department at NC State to succeed. And it is now, with his dedication to education and community that he has allowed the Center to do such important work that will benefit all of us–not just Lebanese, or Middle Easterners-but all of us.
From the team who has been working hard for the past 4 years, we thank you, for all that you have done. Without you, we could not have succeeded, and as we move into the future, it is you that we will look to for support.
Check out the the News and Observer coverage, a great article by an NC State journalist, and coverage by The Technician. And check out our Events page for upcoming activities at NC State.