Running the Good Race: A Dialogue in Three Voices

The Faculty of Humanities (FH), the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (CRVP), and the Lebanon Dialogue Initiative (LDI) at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU), in collaboration with the Beirut Marathon Association (BMA), organized a dialogue session titled, “Running the Good Race, A Dialogue in Three Voices: Haile Gebreselassie, May el-Khalil, and Maxime Chaya,” with the Sports Legend Haile Gebreselassie, Ms. May El-Khalil, and Maxime Chaya. Dr. Edward J. Alam, Director of the CRVP and Executing Officer of LDI, moderated the session.

After brief welcome speeches delivered by Vice-President for Public Affairs and Communications Mr. Suheil Matar and NDU President Fr. Walid Moussa, the event began with screening of three videos, highlighting the achievements of the three highly distinguished guests. Following the screening, Dr. Edward Alam presented his introduction, placing the event in the proper context and ended it by posing two questions to the speakers who then opened the floor for discussion among NDU professors and students, especially the Sports Education students.

In his introduction, Dr. Alam said, “It is my distinct pleasure to introduce our event this evening … It comes as one of many activities in a series of events that fall under an exciting and dynamic NDU Initiative titled, ‘Lebanon Dialogue Initiative,’ a civil society driven movement, which calls upon the United Nations to recognize Lebanon as a Land of Dialogue among Civilizations and Cultures.  By such international recognition, we believe that Lebanon will be able to secure the international solidarity it needs to recover its historic vocation—a vocation that Lebanon somehow still manages, if only in fits and starts, to be faithful to. Events such as these, and the previous activities under the auspices of NDU’s Lebanese Dialogue Initiative, events at NDU like the Conversation with Robert Fisk in 2013, or the International Colloquium with Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka in 2014, or events abroad like the International Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, last year on Lebanon’s role in the Dialogue of Civilizations, which was patronized by some of Brazils’ highest ranking officials. These events, and many like them, though only drops in an ocean of darkness, are the repeated bursts of light that make all the difference. And the presence of every single individual here this evening is one precious drop in that ocean of light sustaining Lebanon and helping it to hold on to this most critical historic vocation … Soon, for the first time in the region since 1948, a synagogue will be opened for worship in the district of Wadi Abu Jamil, the traditional Lebanese Jewish neighborhood that had been abandoned during the war. These drops in the ocean, once again, make all the difference in helping Lebanon to recover its historic vocation of promoting dialogue and genuine coexistence among people of different religious and ethnic traditions. This evening’s event… I would like to believe is one such small event. In two days, tens of thousands of Lebanese and many others from all around the world who believe in Lebanon will descend upon Beirut, not just to run a Marathon, but to make a statement, and three prominent voices to make that statement are with us this evening, May el-Khalil, and Maxime Chaya, two exceptional human beings that need no introduction here… But what makes this evening even more significant is that we have the honor of also listening in person to an international sports legend, Mr. Haile Gebreselassie, who, through his global fame, has been helping his own native country of Ethiopia to face their own challenges.”

The evening was memorable given its fruitful discussions, questions, and comments, and its crowning moment when the Running Club students of Champville School presented Gebreselassie with an artistic portrait of himself. The astounding gift delighted Gebreselassie.

Finally, the Dean of the FH Dr. Kamal Abou Chedid completed the conversation with a few concluding remarks, thanking the accomplished guests and all those who participated in making the event a resounding success. The video of the event can be found at the CRVP office at NDU.

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