The Lebanese American University (LAU) organized and hosted a cultural exchange sports event titled “USA-Lebanon Sports and Diplomacy,” in collaboration with U.S. Embassy Beirut. Ambassador Dorothy Shea; LAU Chief Academic Officer Dr. George Nasr; President of the Basketball Association Akram Halabi; and other members from LAU, U.S. Embassy Beirut, and the National Basketball Federation attended the event.
This sports and diplomacy event provided an opportunity to showcase the common values between two basketball-loving countries, Lebanon and the United States. During the event, five players (Wael Arakji, Jad Khalil, Karim Zainoun, Elie Chamoun, and Sergio Darwish) from the Lebanese National Basketball Team, majority of whom are LAU alumni, participated in collaborative sports drills with a dozen Lebanese youth from the Jr NBA 2022 program and the Jr Girls Lebanese National Basketball Team, Ambassador Shea, and U.S. Marines.
LAU Byblos Director of Sports Activities Joe Mojaes moderated an interactive panel with Wael Arakji, Sergio Darwish, Ambassador Shea, and LAU VP of Student Development Dr. Elise Salem. The Lebanese youth discussed with the panelists the importance of sports in diplomacy as sports promote diversity, unity, and collaboration despite political and economic challenges.
In her remarks, Ambassador Shea noted, “While having fun, we are simultaneously engaging with diversity and cultural exchange, building leadership skills and discipline, and learning the value of conflict resolution and teamwork. Sports unite us and give us purpose—it truly captures the essence of diplomacy.”
LAU honored the Lebanese National Basketball Team athlete and LAU alumnus Wael Arakji with the university’s shield as he continuously demonstrates sportsmanship all Lebanese youth aspire to emulate.
Upon receiving the award, Wael Arakji remarked, “I am honored, as an LAU alumnus, to be recognized in this way. And I can only hope that more young Lebanese are able to pursue the opportunities for connection that sports provide.”