BOLD IDEAS!: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A SURVIVOR OF CIVIL WAR?, A CONVERSATION WITH NADINE ATWI
Our Bold Ideas sessions serve as a platform for citizens, activists, and leaders to share their personal, career, and life experiences and challenges with the community, and how they negotiated their life paths around these challenges.
Session Summary: As a survivor of the Lebanese civil war, I still recall horrible childhood memories of the war; the smells, the sounds, and the indescribable fear that casted a shadow over my life for fifteen long years. I have watched my house being destroyed, my father being kidnaped and my frightened mother trying to flee with her young daughters to safety. The same experiences were part of my life again as a mother, trying to protect my children from blood thirsty combatants who use to be neighbours and friends. Yet, all these painful experiences that scarred my life and the lives of thousands other Lebanese, seemed to be non-existent in the official History curriculum. At times, it seemed as if we did not exist, as if war were nothing but a Myth. Topics related to the war were regarded as taboos, thus triggering students’ curiosity to discover what really happened during the civil war. The official narrative about the civil war could be summarized in three simple words: Victims should forget. As a teacher, I had to find ways to challenge the existing narrative and cultivate students’ critical capacity. Through Storytelling, I presented my students with stories of the people, of their losses, their struggles, and their pain that is often framed under “collateral damage”. Through storytelling, I invited my students to recognize that the civil war is a shared legacy; this was my bold choice to bring them together amidst the heated sectarian confrontation.