How the Lebanese in NC were able to bring a community together:
We wondered what makes the Lebanese in North Carolina such a tight community and how they made a name for themselves in NC.
Some factors might be that Raleigh, NC is 15th most diverse and one of the most affluent cities in the US attracting research companies, professors, and medical professionals.
While every Lebanese loves Lebanon, there are two types of Lebanese: passive or active. A passive Lebanese might put a sticker on his/her car, eat Lebanese food, and possibly meet with other Lebanese. Being an active Lebanese is one that participates and contributes to Lebanese projects and helps other Lebanese. It could be donating time to a Lebanese organization, donating money, or the combination of both. A proactive Lebanese shows his/her passion and pride by doing.
Dr. Moise Khayrallah started with the TLA over 25 years ago donating his time to both the TLA and St. Charbel. Today, he donates 8.1 million to NCSU to launch the Moise Kharallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies. Dr. Akram Khater who has dedicated the majority of his time to Lebanese Diaspora studies and Middle-East history has highlighted the Lebanese and brought respect to the Lebanese in the academic world and captured the attention of Americans and Lebanese alike. Most importantly, Dr. Moise Kharallah and Dr. Akram Khater have inspired other Lebanese to give back to the community with their commendable ability to make a difference.
While Dr. Khayrallah and Dr. Khater are paradigms of generosity and of being active Lebanese not everyone is able to give back in such a generous fashion however we all have time to dedicate to build a community. There are many community members who foot the bill for events and never turn in expense reports to associations and go unnoticed. There are many who dedicate time cooking and preparing food for festivals, baking goods, teaching children Arabic or Dabkeh, decorating a cultural booth and selling bazaar items. All of this adds to what makes a Lebanese community strong. They do it so that our children may see what we cherish most about being Lebanese!
We left Lebanon seeking a safer life but Lebanon stayed in our hearts and souls. For that, we must put our religious differences aside and be active Lebanese! Support and be happy of other successful Lebanese businesses and extend a hand to others who might be going through tough times. We must all dedicate time to build a Lebanese community, if not for us, for our children who miss out on being Lebanese, our traditions and good values.
Having Lebanese religious sub-groups in a community is healthy as it connects people spiritually. Religion conflict divided our beloved Lebanon, we must learn from the past. The main thing is to support each other’s events, celebrate our differences and coordinate schedules to avoid putting people in a situation where they have to choose which event to attend and risk dividing a community.
Below are various organizations in Raleigh that might overlap but all come together under one Lebanese name. WLCU is proud of the Lebanese in NC because as a community to have been able to put differences aside to support each other’s events and efforts. Read below what it means to them to have such a tight community and how important it is to stay connected.
Triangle Lebanese Association:
The TLA was founded in 1987 by a group of Lebanese living in Raleigh who had to leave Lebanon due to the escalating turmoil in the late 70s. They had all missed home and wanted to connect with Lebanese and celebrate Lebanon through festivals and happy occasions. Several families got together to form a Lebanese cultural non-profit organization to represent Lebanon at festivals. The TLA has represented Lebanon at the international festival of Raleigh for almost 30 years. In addition, the TLA has been holding a successful Lebanese festival for 16 years. The TLA brings together families from all walks of life and religions. They currently have four dedicated dabkeh groups. The groups start practice in January to prepare for the Lebanese festival in April and the international festival in October.
The TLA holds Arabic classes and day camps at 241 Horizon Dr. Raleigh NC, a building Dr. Moise Khayrallah contributed to its acquisition.
The TLA’s goal is to represent Lebanon and bring together the Lebanese community.
Facebook: Triangle Lebanese Association
AUB Alumni Chapter in NC
North Carolina is currently home to over one hundred known graduates of the American University of Beirut. AUB was founded in 1866 as a private non-sectarian institution of higher learning that follows the American liberal arts model, and it rapidly became the premiere institution of higher education in the Middle East. While spearheading the awakening of Lebanon which led to its independence, it also exerted widely recognized regional and global influence. Many AUB alumni initially come to NC to study and train at its distinguished universities with their medical or engineering schools (Duke, UNC, NC State, Wake Forest etc.). Afterwards, they remain here, taking advantage of the abundant teaching, research and technology opportunities afforded by the unique Research Triangle Park centered between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The mix of AUB alumni in NC has thus always consisted of settled professionals along with recent AUB graduates that arrive for post-graduate in a steady influx independent of war and peace back home. The presence of core AUB alumni in the area has always been integral to the Lebanese-American community in NC due to strong social interactions arising from the need to maintain their cultural heritage and to strengthen their bonds to their AUB roots. After years of informal gatherings and social activities, an official NC AUB alumni chapter was established in 2010 following the unification of world-wide AUB alumni under one officially-recognized alumni association (WAAAUB) in 2007. The core mission of the NC AUB Chapter is to strengthen the ties between the alumni here and AUB in Lebanon (facilitated by an alumni office in NYC) in order to further the mission of the University. The goals of the local Chapter are thus primarily educational and charitable in nature, usually facilitated by a varied social program of meeting at picnics, outings, holiday celebrations and presentations at events such as the Lebanese Festival held annually in Raleigh and organized by the Triangle Lebanese Association (TLA). The AUB alumni here, being mostly Lebanese or Lebanese-American, strive to serve and strengthen the Lebanese community in many ways. They can be found volunteering at the individual level as well as taking leadership in organizations such as the TLA. The Chapter is particularly proud of the recent philanthropic efforts of alumnus Dr. Moise Khayrallah in establishing the Khayrallah Center at NC State and conceiving of the Khayrallah Program on documenting and studying Lebanese immigration to NC. His visionary work has brought enormous attention contributions of Lebanese immigrants to the fabric of North Carolina, and he has been an exemplary AUB alumnus. A particular challenge to the AUB Chapter remains widening of outreach activities that could include more alumni from other geographical areas of NC such as Charlotte.
American Druze Society
In 2008, The Muwahhidun Druze in America including those in Raleigh celebrated the American Druze Society’s 100 year anniversary. Such centennial celebration motivated the community to commemorate the core values of this minority group.
In general, The Druze abide by a few rules – adhering to wisdom; holding virtues high; being truthful and safeguarding brethren; never bearing glory on their forehead; nor carrying the faith on their sleeve. As a people, they protect rights, freedoms, and nationalities, and are always willing to accept others. Loyalty, honesty, trustworthiness, generosity, and truthfulness define them. In their communities, the Druze are volunteers, patriots, good neighbors, and loyal citizens. Indeed, their community was and continues to be at the forefront of civilization, progress, and liberty. They have held progressive values for a millennium and thrive to protect them. As professionals, business owners, and parents, as well as every role they play, they share the strong work ethic and cultural pride that their heritage represents. As they mature, the same characteristics are instilled in their children.
As a group, they are proud and highly productive contributors to the community that parents them. They brought with them customs, traditions, and a strong value system, that they integrate successfully into their daily lives. Like any minority group, living outside the original land (Home land) can be daunting. Our goal is to preserve the beliefs that has been passed from one generation to another.
The Raleigh ADS community practices those values in treating the overall community as the umbrella that will help in preserving such values. Today there is an effort to secure a post-doctoral fellowship at George Town University to help preserve this minority group that is fragile in one way and sturdy in others, but rich in history and culture.
The ADS plans picnics and other events throughout the year but we all look forward to is ADHA celebration.
Saint Sharbel Maronite Catholic Mission, a seed from the East, had seen the light in the Greater Raleigh Area almost 20 years ago bringing to us the language of Christ, the Aramaic, and one of the oldest Apostolic Tradition, in today’s Christianity. The Holy See called it “The Jewel on the Crown of the Roman Catholic Church”.
Our doors are open every Sunday at 1pm, celebrating the Liturgy from the Chapel of Mary Mother of the Angels, at St Francis Community, waiting to have our permanent home at 909 Church Street, Morrisville, NC through the belief and the generosity of good consciences people.
As a Maronite Church in Raleigh, NC, our mission & goal is to share the treasures of our eastern heritage (culture, family ethics, tradition, spirituality and liturgy) to enrich our Maronite faith with all of our brothers and sisters in the Triangle Area of North Carolina. A Church building enhances our ministries and gives us the ability for a place we can call home while allow is to better bring God’s message to others through Sunday School, Youth Groups, Catholic Faith Formation, Men’s Guild and Women’s Society.
By Bearta Al-Chacar Powell