Video: What an 1980 AUB Student had to say about Lebanon

A few days ago, I shared the video of a beautiful Lebanese woman dancing to the sound of a Oud at a gathering in 1980. The scene was taken from Maroun Baghdadi‘s ‘Whispers‘, which follows the Lebanese Poet Nadia Tueni (1935-1983) on a journey across different regions of war-torn Lebanon. The film depicts the fall of a country struggling to survive and find hope. At every station, between sites filled with poetry and nostalgia for a bygone era, the poet’s dashed dreams and idealized vision for her country coincide with the director’s own.

Now, we turn our attention to, in my opinion, an even more memorable scene from Baghdadi’s movie. Here, Nadia Tueni meets a student, Haitham Haddad, from the American University of Beirut (AUB) who talks to her about his love for music and his hatred of war. She follows him as he rehearses with his band and then performs at AUB. This moving exchange was one of the inspirations behind ‘On the Responsibility of Students‘, which was also published in Outlook AUB.

Nadia Tueni (Left) and Haitham Haddad (Right)
Nadia Tueni (Left) and Haitham Haddad (Right)

Here’s a transcript of the exchange:

Haitham Haddad: I’m a student in Architecture at the American University of Beirut. I really love music, and now I’m playing in a band at AUB. And I love drawing as well, which is why I studied architecture. And this is how I spend my time. I spend my whole time surrounded by music. I keep on thinking about music..Drawing and Music.

There is something that bothers me though, about the fact that I’m playing music while there’s a war in Lebanon. But I also think that music, in a way, helps people.. I don’t know, to change their way of thinking.. When we have events at our schools, and it isn’t a good thing when people start saying that we’re not thinking about the war and that we’re living in a different world. On the contrary, we are helping, as though it were a strength against the war. Maybe one can see it that way.

War is everything that is against Life. I recently saw a movie that came out in Lebanon, “Apocalypse Now”. I really liked it. It’s very powerful. It bothered me a bit, because it reminded me of war. Of course, it’s about war, but I really liked it. It has a lot of violence, and it convinced me that War makes no sense, that it’s not necessary to get to the desired results.

Before the war we use to have Scouting in our school. Of course, when the war started everything stopped. And 2 years ago, at the International College (IC) School next to the university, some of us decided to restart the Scouting program. We contacted students, and now there are students Scouting. And we let them play, and sing and a lot of other things. Of course, the most important thing in Scouting is camping. But now we can’t do anything.

I love Lebanon. I don’t know, I’m very attached to this country. The the people, and the weather, and nature, and everything. There is everything in Lebanon.

Nadia Tueni: Haitham loves musicIt protects him from the war. Music is a strength against war, that’s what Haitham says. And that’s what Haitham’s friends say. Young men and women living on an island, in the middle of Beirut, in the middle of fear. A piano, a guitar, and a violin, to cover the sounds of war. I wonder where Nabil is. Maybe he’s filming a military parade. And Ghazi, has he found work? Did he receive a letter from his beloved? What did Ziad (Rahbani) do with his play? And the songs of Marcel (Khalifeh) for children? How will they sound like?

Tomorrow, I am going. I will miss.

[Students Singing]

[End of Movie]

These students are now our parents. Do let us know if you see a relative!

Ps: I couldn’t find the song they’re singing online, so I figured it’s an original.

9 thoughts on “Video: What an 1980 AUB Student had to say about Lebanon

  1. “An accomplished musician and composer, Mr. Haddad taught architectural design and watercolor painting at his alma mater for 4 years, volunteered as an envoy with the Atlanta Committee for the Centennial Olympic Games, and served on the Board of the Alliance Française d’Atlanta from 1992 to 2006. Mr. Haddad is also one of the founders of Alif Institute where he served as President from 2006 to 2008, and is currently serving as a Board Member.”

    So he left Lebanon a long time ago.

  2. 1 – It is a very sad video, the music itself so 70’s and amazingly beautiful, the scratched sound of guitar with the wah effect gave me goose bumps.
    2 – The guy himself was aware of the differences in classes, saying that people tell him, he is not aware of the war and still he is doing music. Indeed, Most of AUB students during war time, were the few fortunate who can afford to pay for their education, no concerns for survival, food health and safety, rather than arts, music, events and activities. Where the other majority was being slaughtered, or fighting for food and survival.
    3 – Weird enough, AUB in 1980, could not find 1 single woman with a veil, however AUB in 2015 number of veiled women at AUB is significant! is it that we are becoming more religious? more fanatic and willing to demonstrate? trend? or simply AUB became more open to more people?

    1. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that there are more Shias who can now affront elite education no? Up to the 70s-80s, Shias were still largely part of the working class. Most of them still are today, but there’s a larger percentage of them who are now able to afford something like AUB.

      1. Yes I agree with you, and mainly even for the less fortunate who can not afford, lots of aids and funds must be coming from their political parties.

  3. I attended this concert and was an AUB student from 1974-1981.
    Tuition back then was not like it is these days– which is prohibitive and thus “elitist”.
    I do not recall anyone wearing headscarves. Students might have fasted during Ramadan or Easter, but I don’t remember anyone mentioning it.
    The general mood was secular. Whatever division within the student body centered around a pro-west as opposed to a pro-Arab orientation.
    Thank you Joey for posting this clip! Great blog!

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