Levantine Institute

1 floor, 2 institutes, 1 aim: free education

The afternoon teachers are students in the morning

If you want to serve a society, you need to educate its citizens. This is what Serj Harfouche, one of the founders of Levantine Institute and Maan Center, told us. What’s the difference between both entities and what’s common between them?

They learn Arabic to help kids learn it too

Maan Centre was founded eight months ago to teach kids English, French, Arabic and Maths for free. Who are the teachers? They are the students in Levantine Institute, the class that teaches tourists Arabic. Maan Centre aims at educating an upcoming generation and providing it with the ultimate weapon: knowledge. It’s not easy to initiate a project like Maan Centre especially in Tripoli, but the perseverance of Serj Harfouche and Alexandre Khoury, his partner, was stronger than all obstacles. Establishing Levantine Institute is even harder and has two challenges: First attract tourists and foreigners to Tripoli and then let them stay to learn the language. The classes soon filled up with 60 students daily in Maan Centre, and Levantine Institute students loved the idea of being given the opportunity to teach their mother languages to others while learning Arabic. They began attending the Arabic language classes in the morning, and teaching Maan Centre children Maths and second languages in the afternoon.

Mini markets and taxi drivers don’t speak in English!

This project came to life within a few months. Serj and Alexandre chose the house, renovated its rooms, turning them into spacious classrooms, supplied it with electricity and water cycles, and announced the beginning of classes in both the centre and the institute. One of the Italian students in Levantine Institute told us that she absolutely loved the Arabic language and gets the chance to practice it while helping the kids in the afternoon with their studies, where she is obliged to communicate with them using their mother language. She noted that people in Tripoli, especially small business owners and drivers, aren’t very capable of understanding English, let alone speak it, so learning Arabic was first a survival necessity, only soon enough to become easier to use with the practice she does in the centre with children.

A new form of cultural tourism

It is worth noting that Tripolitans got excited when seeing foreigners and tourists in their neighbourhoods, which brought back memories of good old days in the city, back when tourists were numerous and the economic conditions were much better. Nowadays, the fact that foreigners are visiting and residing in Tripoli, has made many Tripolitans happy, hopeful and alive.