Seeing Arabs Through An American School
A Beirut Memoir, 1998-2001
Robert F. Ober, Jr.
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The author encountered the Arab worlds full complexity while heading the largest American independent school abroad, International College, Beirut, Lebanon. The College serves 3500 Arab students, preschool through high school. Its nonsectarian program accommodates Muslim, Druze and Christian families. The author worked to strengthen the schools American attributes in an atmosphere beclouded by Israeli air attacks, Hezbollahs resistance, Syrias occupation, and allegations of CIA involvement. Indigenous ways of management that had become entrenched during wartime as well as board governance from afar added complications. Despite everything, the school is a model that deserves replication elsewhere in the Middle East, especially after September 11.A reviewer in Connecticut observes: "As our national attention focuses more and more closely on that deeply troubled region, Mr. Ober´s experiences as president of a large private school take on increased relevance. Collectively, his descriptions develop a complete picture of an ancient and proud culture that is only glimpsed in other parts of the world amid dramatic news copy and images of violence" (Litchfield County Times, November 21, 2003).