Bernard EL GHOUL

Interview with the Director of the Maison du Liban

Tell us about your background and your arrival at the Cité internationale.

A Doctor in political sciences, I worked in the Gulf for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs before taking charge of the Middle East Mediterranean campus at Sciences Po Paris in Menton (Alpes-Maritimes). As the Director, I was in charge of education as well as recruiting students and teachers; I was also responsible for making sure that student community life functions well, ensuring communication and operational management of the campus (finances, HR and housing), as well as managing the relationships with local authorities, partner companies and benefactors. My experience has notably been marked by two issues that I faced when I arrived at the Maison du Liban in September 2019: accommodation and health. Firstly, Menton isn’t a student town, so I helped to develop accommodation that took care of students’ needs; then, I helped establish the student health centre in partnership with GPs, psychologists and psychiatrists in order to meet expectations about medical care, nutrition, sleep, addiction, disability and mental health. 

What do you think makes the Cité internationale a unique campus in the world?

Firstly, the intellectual alliances and the friendships that residents develop throughout their stay at the Cité internationale are unique in the world. Within this multicultural environment, teamwork and a collaborative approach contribute to building bridges and breaking down the walls of misunderstanding. In the context of cultural mixing and daily exchanges of ideas, moving to the Cité internationale allows residents to better handle the complexity of the world and face the difficulties of interpretation.

How does living in your house allow residents to have a different outlook on the world and how is it a spring board for their futures?

Although Lebanon is vulnerable and fragile, could be improved and regularly faces strong tensions, today with its eighteen religious communities, it offers a model of coexistence that is unique to the Middle East. The Maison du Liban needs to embody this exceptional feature, promote a message of living together and echo the Lebanese intellectual, artistic and cultural vitality. Within the house this is achieved via conviviality, the ‘joie de vivre’, music and, of course, cooking which cement the daily transcommunity that allows each and every one of our residents to flourish. In a fragmented world where communitarianism is intensified, the Maison du Liban aims to reunite young people with one and the same ambition: to live in peace with respect for each other’s differences.

If you had to sum up the Cité internationale in one word, what would it be and why?

“Diversity”, due to the plurality of the richness of each and every one of our residents’ backgrounds.

Rami ADWAN, Lebanese Ambassador to France and President of the Foundation

A graduate of Rouen Business School, Rami Adwan continued his studies at The Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), then at ENA (2002-2004). An advisor to the Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water for administrative affairs between 2004 and 2005, he became the Deputy Mission Chief to the Lebanese embassy in Romania (2005-2008) then Deputy Mission Chief to the Lebanese Embassy in the Netherlands (2008-2013). He was then appointed as Chief of Staff for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and became the Lebanese Ambassador to France in 2017.