News — August 22, 2002

Junior Chamber Promotes International Understanding

The Millington Area Junior Chamber (in Tennessee, U.S.A.), headed by local president Keith Chappell, is promoting international understanding among members in the United States and all over the world by sharing the traveling experiences of one of its members, Dr. Amer Kechli, to Lebanon, his country of origin. Dr. Amer Kechli, Millington Junior Chamber Vice President, is a pediatrician born in Beirut in 1966 of a Lebanese father and a Kuwaiti mother. During his 18-day journey to Beirut, Lebanon, which began August 16, he has chronicled his experiences on his chapter?s website,
?Having lived and worked in the United States for more than 10 years, I know some people think that Lebanon is very different from America. I hope that people will log on to the website and see that Lebanon has everything from schools to restaurants like Old Timer?s, just like here in Millington,? he said. Beirut, a Resurrected City During World War II (1939-1945) Lebanon became an independent republic and for three decades prospered under a free-market economy. However, the country experienced increasing hostility among rival religious groups, especially between Christians and Muslims. Tensions erupted into the devastating Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990. Beirut is Lebanon's capital, principal port, and largest city. Before the war began, Beirut was a highly successful experiment in hard-won tolerance and liberal investment. Writers, artists and intellectuals from all over the Middle East took advantage of the country's lack of censorship. Beneath the superficial glamour, however, seethed ethnic and religious tensions that erupted in the civil war that did not end until October 1990. Now Beirut is back, and bursting with filmmakers and musicians, poets, writers, playwrights, artists and dance and theater groups. Historic buildings are being restored; the National Museum of Beirut has reopened; a new archaeological park will open soon; and the new version of the old souks (Arabic shops) will offer an exotic array of goods. Real Images Dr. Kechli said he wants people to see real images of his homeland and not just news stories showing terrorism and war in the Middle East. Using a digital camera, he has photographed people and places of Lebanon and uploaded them to the Millington Junior Chamber website, which contains links where visitors can email questions and greetings to Dr. Kechli. ?Being a pediatrician, I love children. I hope that children will see that kids are kids no matter where they live. It is only when they are taught to hate, that the world grows further apart. I hope this project will show American kids that Arab kids are not so different,? Dr. Kechli said.
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