The TLA is a secular, non-sectarian organization which doe not support religious or political activities.
The TLA's mission is to provide an exchange of information and understanding between the Lebanese and American cultures
through social, cultural and humanitarian endeavors.
The Courtship of Amal:
A Lebanese Love Story
by Dahr Joseph Tanoury
Nine-year old Amal Gebrael left Lebanon with her family in 1976, to escape the deprivations of the growing Lebanese Civil War. Amal's parents were determined to whisk their family to the safety of the United States, where their sons could escape forced recruitment into the Lebanese militia, and Amal could attend college. Though she was but a child, Amal remembers clearly the anxiety her family felt as they rode the boat from Beirut to Cyprus. "The day we left, they (soldiers) were firing on the ferry boats. We got out just in time." The family stayed in Cyprus a month, completing immigration paperwork. Then they flew from Cyprus to Belgium, staying there for several weeks. Then they took their final flight, to Boston, where Amal's aunt and cousins lived.
Though the family slowly adapted to Boston life, Amal's mother, Julia, wanted her children to never forget their Lebanese culture. Only Arabic was spoken in the home. And when cousins and friends returned for visits to an uncertain Lebanon, Julia gave them money to give to those suffering back home - Amal and her brothers and sisters were required to donate part of their allowances to the cause. "Never forget the hardships Lebanon suffered," Julia would say.
The years passed. Julia's dream of her children attending college was fulfilled. America was
good to the family. But Amal's parents' desire to keep alive the family's Lebanese heritage was strong. A
return visit back to Lebanon was planned for the summer of 1987, when Amal was 21. The family had
been gone for 12 years. Sick with a cold, Amal said goodbye to her boyfriend, George, in Boston, and
boarded the plane with her family, looking forward to reconnecting with the Lebanon of her childhood.
Once again the family road the ferry between Cyprus and Lebanon. This time they were heading in the
opposite direction, toward the port of Jouneh. News spread quickly of Gebraels' home coming.
Inside this issue:
St. Valentine's Day
Up Coming 2001
TLA - Food Lion Gift
Cedar , n: 1. Any of various
evergreen trees with aromatic,
often reddish wood. American
As Habib Lawandos, 27, anxiously waited at the Jouneh pier for the Cypriot ferry to dock, his thoughts drifted back to his childhood days, when he and Amal played together. She was six and he was 12. They were distant cousins. Their families were very close, even though they now lived oceans apart. His attention turned back toward the slow-moving ferry, which had now stopped yards from the pier. Customs officers were still processing visas. Habib was not alone in his anticipation. Over one hundred cousins and former Tannourine neighbors of the Gebraels' lined the pier waiting for the family to "come home." Though Habib hadn't spoken to Amal in many years, he was already conspiring on how to win her heart. He tracked Amal's progress through the years, receiving regular reports of her activities. Family members kept him well informed, even showing him pictures.
Amal sat alone on the ferry's sun deck, alternating her gaze between the waving crowd on the pier, and the beautiful green mountains rising above the port authority building. She still sniffled from her cold. She was oblivious to the flame of love that would soon engulf her. Though the ferry had yet to dock, somehow, Habib found his way onto the ferry, hurried up the sun deck and ran toward Amal. "Somehow he recognized me. He ran toward me, opened his arms, and started to hug me. I had no idea who this person was that was hugging me," recalls Amal. "Somehow I asked, are you Habib? Because I must have seen his picture somewhere. He didn't answer me because he was just so excited about us returning to Lebanon." Finally, Habib answered "yes, I am Habib." Then Amal relaxed. It was her distant cousin from childhood.
The ferry finally docked, and Amal's family walked onto the pier, surrounded by what appeared to be the entire population of Tannourine. Emotions ran high. "We were there on the pier for about an hour, kissing, hugging everyone from Tannourine who had come to welcome us. It was wonderful," says Amal. Everyone piled into cars headed for Jbeil for dinner. So that everyone could share in the joy, each car would be occupied by at least one Gebrael family member. As fate would have it, or something else, Habib was assigned to drive Amal to Jbeil. She sat next to him in the front seat. While at dinner, Habib sat next to Amal. She didn't suspect anything strange in this, since she and Habib were close in age, and she was close friends with his sister as children. After dinner, Habib drove Amal to Beirut to see his sister. The whole time he was holding her hand in the front seat, and telling her how happy he was to have her family back in Lebanon. "I was very impressed by how modern he was. He was highly educated. He spoke several languages. His attitude towards women was very modern. There was a strong bond between us immediately because he was not a stranger."
It was an exciting time for Amal. "My vacation started with this handsome guy driving me around Lebanon. He gave me the tour." The next day Habib drove Amal back to Juneah to pick up some lost luggage. "As soon as we arrived at the pier, I freshened up my lipstick in the car looking at the rear view mirror. He teased me about how I wanted to look nice for the port authority and not for him. At that time I started to see him in a different light, as a possible boyfriend. Now the romantic tension started," says Amal.
On the third night Amal was invited to spend the night at Habib's family's house. Though it was small, it was cozy. Habib and Amal were assigned to sleep together in one of the small bedrooms in separate beds. Habib was always a perfect gentleman. "We were talking through the night after everyone went to bed, about everything under the sun. When we were too tired to speak anymore, he leaned over and gave me a good night kiss. And that's when I started to feel that there was something special going on between him and me," says Amal. "That's when Cupid hit me with his arrow. After only three days, I couldn't wait to wake up in the morning to start another day together with Habib," said Amal. "Now my vacation turned into a romantic adventure. It was unexpected, totally. And I started rediscovering Lebanon, as an adult, its culture, and discovering my true love." Habib and Amal were inseparable, spending every moment together.
Continued from Page 2.
"He speaks in poetry a lot. He used flowery, poetic language to woo me. I wasn't used to that living in America," said Amal. Through their many conversations, Habib learned that Amal's favorite fruit as a child was Janarick. Determined to prove he could be a good provider, Habib set out to find Janarick for Amal. One problem: Janarick was out of season. So they drove around half of Lebanon for hours, not telling Amal what he was looking for. He would drive up to countless roadside groceries, run inside, then run back to the car empty-handed, but with a big smile on his face. He finally found some Janarick in a tiny grocery store near Amchit.
While he was in the store, Amal got bored. She opened her pocketbook and stared at the photo of George. She felt guilty; she was developing strong feelings for Habib. Suddenly Habib appeared out of nowhere and saw Amal staring at George's picture. Habib's heart sank. The guilt on Amal's face was obvious, her eyes downcast. A long discussion followed. It was damage control time for Amal. She explained how she was falling in love with Habib, but felt guilty about betraying George in her heart. Habib smiled again. His anger disappeared. He knew he could win over Amal. "When I first saw her, I knew that something is different with this girl," said Habib. "There was something special about her that I never felt before with anyone else."
Thus, the courtship of Amal was in high gear. Many a summer night was spent walking hand-in-hand, through the unlit cobblestone streets of Tannourine. They divulged their hopes and dreams of tomorrow, their philosophies on religion, politics, and life in general. Though the town's electricity was frequently off due to the war, the lack of light highlighted the specialness of their quiet moments together. They gazed through the crystal-clear night air, to the deceivingly bright stars above, and made their wishes.
Then it was about to end. Vacation time was over. The Gebraels had to return to the United States. Their love created both solutions and questions. How would they keep their love alive when they lived oceans apart? Habib had to return to college in the Ukraine to complete his studies in civil engineering. Amal had to return to Boston and finish her last two years of college, where she studied computer science. They feared for their love.
Habib popped the question. "Amal, will you marry me?" Amal tearfully agreed, but with several conditions: they complete their college educations first; Habib would visit Boston during Christmas; they would get engaged; tell their families, and plan the wedding. After a heart wrenching goodbye, Amal left Lebanon. "I cried the first week a lot in the evenings when we were separated. We wrote, and spoke on the phone. And he tried for a visa to travel from Russia to Boston, but was denied."
Habib stood in line at the Ukraine telephone office for hours at times, waiting to call his sweetheart in Boston. All too often, the operator was unable to secure a line to the United States. Back in Boston, Amal got caught up in her daily life, schools, family, friends. As the months passed, she heard less from Habib. Her friends tried to dissuade her from marrying him. He just wanted to use her to get to the United States, they would say. More time passed. Habib was unable to visit during Christmas. Next summer approached. Out of sight, out of mind. Amal changed her mind. She lost interest in this guy named Habib. Five years passed. The memory of Habib was but one page in Amal's diary.
Then in 1991, Amal's family decided to visit Lebanon again. Thoughts of Habib stirred in her head. She went along, but with trepidation. Would she be trapped into a marriage she no longer wanted? They landed at Beirut airport with little fanfare. And Habib was not waiting to greet Amal. His father showed up to drive the family back to Tannourine. "We arrived in Tannourine in the early dawn. I was so scared of seeing him and thinking that he'd trap me. But all those feelings I felt back in 1988 rushed back to me." Habib was playing hard to get, kind of. He didn't rush to Amal's side because he didn't know exactly how to proceed. He told his friend that he felt the same about Amal as he did five years earlier, but didn't want to crowd her.
Then they had their first encounter. Habib came back to his father's house where the Gebraels were staying. He was smoking a cigarette outside the doorway. Amal asked why he was smoking outside. "Are you trying to get away from us?" she said with a nervous smile on her face. "No," he said. "I know you don't like cigarette smoke so I came outside." That one little remark told Amal that she still weighed heavily on his mind. "After the first hour I knew she was for me. Right away, I knew that she was still mine. Even if she didn't want to admit it, I knew it," recalls Habib.
Their conversations got longer as the days passed. The passion and body language of their old love resurfaced with new energy. "Little by little, we'd send messages to the other that we still felt the same. Within two days, we were back where we were five years ago," said Amal. Once again, Cupid's arrow hits its mark (even though it fell out the first time).
They spent another wonderful summer together in the mountains of Tannourine. Habib was afraid to let
Amal go back to America without securing a guarantee. He insisted they get engaged. He gave her a ring to
show the world Amal was his. They vowed to marry next summer. Habib confessed that a woman he dated
during the previous five years was pressuring him to get married. Habib kept deferring the issue. He couldn't
marry another woman until he saw Amal again and reassessed his feelings for her. He was trapped into waiting
for Amal to revisit Lebanon; he couldn't visit the United States because of visa problems. But when she came
back to Lebanon, he discovered that his love for Amal never died. It was stronger than ever, flowing like a
mountain stream in the throws of a heavy spring rain. Reflecting back on their hot and cold romance, Haibib
laughs. "I'll never forgive Amal for taking away five years of my life," referring to the five years he spent in
Lebanon, pining away the years with Amal on his mind. Habib and Amal married in August of 1992, in Lebanon.
All their family and friends were there. It was a joyous celebration. "It was the happiest moment of our lives. It
gave meaning to life. Before marriage, it was just time spent waiting to start our lives. I feel like I was born again
when I met her," Habib says, with a big smile on his face.
Editor's Note: Habib and Amal Lawandos are living happily ever-after in North Raleigh with their daughter Julie. Amal works as a
software engineer for a local company; and Habib is a design engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. I
want to thank both of them for sharing intimate details of their lives with us. They are an inspiration to all who seek love and
companionship of another. They're also an example that sometimes it takes a couple of arrows to get it right!
Phoenicians: Ancestors of Lebanon
The Phoenicians were the masters of the sea for thousands of years. They earned a reputation as consummate seafarers, traders, traveling artisans, explorers and shipwrights of their day. Most of the trading reputation was good and some of it was bad. The Phoenicians, who had been confined to their area by their powerful neighbors, started venturing out. In a short time, they changed from coastal traders to seagoing merchants.
Phoenicians were excellent navigators. For lack of a compass in navigating, they used Ursa Minor, (Little Dipper) which the Greeks called "Phoenician." According to the classical historian Herodotus, the Phoenicians circumnavigated the African continent around 600 B.C. by the order of the Pharaoh Necho. They sailed down the Red Sea and westward, coming back to the Mediterranean through the Pillars of Heracles (Strait of Gibraltar). The journey is said to have taken 3 years. What supported the fact that the sailors had reached the southern hemisphere was their report that for a while the sun had been on their right hand side - that is, rising and setting to their north.
Other voyages undertaken by the Phoenicians were: Hamilco's voyage from Carthage to the British Isles
in 450 B.C.; Hanno's voyage from Carthage down the West African coast in 425 B.C.; Hannibal's march in 218
from Nova on the Spanish coast westward, over the Alps and into Italy. The Phoenicians traded throughout the
Mediterranean and established trading posts along the coasts. Carthage (located in present day Tunisia) was
founded in 814 B.C. Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, the Balearic Isles, and Gades (in Spain) were secured also
as trading posts. The Phoenicians, who had been confined to their area by their powerful neighbors, started
venturing out. They began flowing outwards, and in a short period changed from coastal traders to seagoing
merchants. (Source: University of Wisconsin Website, http://www.uwgb.edu/galta/mrr/phonec/home2.htm).
February Is The Month
To Renew Your TLA Membership!
TLA MEMBERSHIP FORM
Please fill out this form, and sen d it off to our Membership Chair, John Lucas at: TLA Membership Chairman, B-3 4135 Camelot
Drive, Raleigh, N.C. 27609. Make check payable to "Triangle Lebanese Association."
Home_________________ Work: ________________
|Date first entered into database
Your Spouse or Other Adult: _____________________________________________
|Month of Birth
|Children: First Name(s) Birth Date
1. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______
2. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______
3. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______
4. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______
|Hobbies, interests, etc. (Please tell us a little about hobbies, interests and activities you would like to participate in:
|Type of Membership: please check the applicable
type of membership:
___Voting Membership (if you are Lebanese by birth, ancestry or marriage)
___ Associate Membership (non-voting membership, open to all friends of the Lebanese culture)
|$25 per Family $________
$15 per Single $________
$10 per Student $________
(all contributions will help the TLA reach
The TLA's New Year's Eve Party netted $500.00 in December. Half of that was to be shared with Taza
Grill, per agreement. But thanks to the generosity of the ElZohrs, who own and operate Taza Grill, they've
agreed to donate their share of the profits to the TLA. That means the TLA received the entire $500.00 from the
event. Thanks ElZohrs!
Keep the Lebanese culture alive in your family. Enroll your children today in the TLA Arabic School.
Every Saturday during the school year at 1:30 p.m., children learn how to read, write, do math, and sing in
Arabic! Noha Nasrallah teaches the advanced class with children over 10. Badia Ishak and Jana Mitri teach the
younger children. From 3 to 4 p.m., older children can participate in Youth Dabke dance lessons. Arabic School
teachers are always in need of parent volunteers. So if you have a little extra time on Saturdays, give one of the
teachers a call: Badia Ishak, 851-5187. Jana Mitri, 319-9899. Noha Nasrallah, 380-1054.
The following people have birthdays in February. If you see them, wish them a Happy Birthday! Mona
Abdulkhalek. Susan Abed. Noha Gebrael. Fadi Hanna. Hassan Hanna. Badia Ishak. Doumit Ishak. Genevieve
Joseph. Hadi Jabbour. Jad Jabbour. Walid Karam. Aline Lahoud. Myra Martin. Michael Saab. Geabrielle Saleh.
Where Do You Grocery Shop?
Did you know that you could earn money for the TLA/Lebanese Education Center just by going grocery shopping? Said Abdul Khalek, Fund-Raising Chairperson, has set up a terrific fund-raiser for the TLA/LEC with Food Lion Grocery Stores. Food Lion has a program for non-profit organizations that is super! Here's the scoop: the TLA buys $50 and $100 Grocery Gift Cards from Food Lion. And TLA members and friends buy these cards for the exact same price) from the TLA.
Every time a person uses one of these Gift Cards at Food Lion in the check out line, the TLA receives 6% of that total sale. It's very simple, you purchase the Gift Cards from the TLA, and use them at Food Lion by swiping the card through magnetic card reader. And Food Lion sends 6% of the total to the TLA/LEC! The amount of your grocery bill is deducted from the balance on the card. Some families buy $500.00 worth of cards each month and never write checks or use ATM cards at Food Lion anymore. You spend the same amount of money as you would normally, except Food Lion gives the TLA/LEC 6% of your total bill!! Food Lion gets the extra business; and the TLA/LEC gets funds to support its mission and build the LEC clubhouse.
What we are striving for is to set up everyone on a monthly account. All of us know roughly how much we spend on groceries each month. A few days before you go to the store, call Raghda Yehya at 781-1330, and ask for either a $50 or $100 Gift Card. It's that simple! Tell your friends,
neighbors and relatives. everyone wins in this deal!