Courtney Radsch (Lebanon)

Courtney Radsch (Middle East Reporter, Lebanon) Courtney was studying in the Master of Science in Foreign Service program at Georgetown University when she volunteered for Middle East Reporter (MER) in Beirut, Lebanon and placed articles in the Daily Star newspaper. The Reporter published a daily English-language digest of Arabic news from Beirut and offered training to journalists in the Middle East. In her evaluation Courtney wrote: “While at the Daily Star I confronted the prospect of self-censorship and political pressure, and learned how to work as a team in a high-pressure deadline situation. I also gained a lot of practice making news decisions and writing news stories. I discovered that I am very interested in journalism, and perhaps in advocacy journalism. Working for a respected and independent paper in a region that is often portrayed in a hostile manner by the American media made me realize that even the most lauded media organizations must make difficult decisions about what to publish, what words to use and which details to include where."

Mezza and Hospitality

13 Jun

Beirut is a fabulous city that blends the best of Europe with its Middle Eastern roots, and adds a flair all its own. As you walk down the streets dodging old Mercedes taxis and brand-new BMWs and SUVs, you can feel the pulse of a city that takes time to enjoy life even as it keeps speed with the latest fashion or business trends. I don’t like the American way of life that barely squeezes in time for a meal and offers you coffee to go. In the evenings you can sit down for a leisurely meal of Lebanese mezza washed down with arak, a clear licorice liqueur that, when mixed with water, becomes cloudy. The mezza are small plates of delicious appetizers, from babaganouj (smoky eggplant dip) to fattousch (Middle Eastern leaves, tomato, cucumber and mint). The Mishlawis took me to an elegant restaurant in the newly developed downtown where I sampled different types of hummus, little fried fish, and kibbeh nayeh (raw meat paté). But you can also get a quick sage or manesh from a sidewalk vendor to take home or even eat on the street, although thankfully the American habit of eating on the run has not yet infested the area.

As you stroll down the shop-lined streets of Hamra or the student area of Rue Bliss, elegant Arabic script interspersed with French and English store names tempt you to try out the latest fashions or unwind by smoking a narjilah or drinking mint tea. Nearly all the people here are bi- or trilingual; everyone is friendly. The very first night I arrived I called a friend of a friend, who promptly introduced me to her friend. By Friday I had met ten people who had volunteered to show me around, help me find housing, or introduce me to people I should meet. This kindness and willingness to help, without even being asked, is one of my favorite things about Beirut. When I lived in France I struggled to make friends in a society where friendship is a guarded commodity. My hosts have taken me under their wings and treat me like family. The warmth expressed by Beirutis has made the transition into an unknown place effortless.

Posted By Courtney Radsch (Lebanon)

Posted Jun 13th, 2003

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