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11/06/2010 - 10:57hs
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Lebanon has Latin-American library

University Saint-Esprit de Kaslik is developing the project for a library turned to the region. The initiative is by the Centre for Studies and Culture of Latin America, established in February.



São Paulo –Saint-Esprit de Kaslik University (Usek), from Lebanon, started developing, in the first half of this year, a project for the establishment of a Latin-American library. The initiative is by the Centre for Studies and Culture of Latin America (Cecal), opened by the institution in February and managed by the Brazilian Roberto Khatlab. The space, which operates within the central library at Usek, has books in Spanish and Portuguese, as well as publications in other languages, but focussing on Latin America.

According to the Cecal director, Roberto Khatlab, who is also a writer and researcher, the library started operating in the first half. The space brings together books that were already in the central library at Usek, covering Latin America, in Spanish and Portuguese, and should receive other donations and acquisitions from the Cecal. In September, when the school year begins in Lebanon, there should be a ceremony to make the donations official.

Khatlab said that the Cecal is open to donations of books and that those already confirmed should come, for example, from publishing houses, embassies and authors (see contact information for donations below). The library should have, among the books, works by Brazilian authors of Lebanese origin, like Milton Hatoum and Raduan Nassar.

The library is just one of the initiatives by the Cecal. Also early next year, the Saint-Esprit University should start offering Portuguese and Spanish lessons, as well as studies on the literature of Latin America, as a result of the work of the new centre. Khatlab explains that Portuguese will be optional class in the Letters and Translation courses, together with Italian, German and Spanish. It may be taken by Usek students and also by the community outside the university.

Also as a result of Cecal operation, in 2011, there should be a Latin-American Film festival. The exhibition should be promoted together with the College of Fine Arts at the Usek. Aiming at integrating students to the initiative there should be both movies shot by market directors and also films by students of universities in Latin America. The intention is to promote a festival with movies by Lebanese students in Latin America.

Old ties

Despite having been created early this year, the Cecal project has under consideration since 1998, when Santa Maria Federal University (Ufsm), through Paulo Sarkis, then the dean at the organisation, signed an exchange agreement with Usek. "Usek has been connected to Latin America for some time, but has now decided to make the contact official and to attract exchange in all areas. Cecal should be the bridge, disclosing information and guiding research and activities in both directions,” explained Khatlab.

According to the director, Cecal is the first centre of the kind in Lebanon and the Middle East, as the universities in the Arab country have greater contact with Europe and North America. He explains that despite the greater Lebanese immigration in Latin America, the potential of the region is not very well known in the country. And that, he says, is important for there to be exchange. The great objective of the Cecal is the integration of Latin American countries with Lebanon in all areas, especially the economic sector. “But, for relations to be developed, knowledge of the language and culture are necessary,” he said.

Cecal is not, however, going to operate directly in matters of immigration, as there is already another Lebanese institution, Notre Dame University, which has a Centre for Studies of Lebanese Immigration and a Latin America department, where the researcher is an associate. Cecal, according to the director, is turned to all the Usek courses and brings together researchers from different colleges and institutions. It is also aimed at helping professors from Latin America and Lebanon interested in exchange in the other region to collaborate and to put in practice agreements signed between Latin American countries and Lebanon.

The university

Usek is a private catholic university run by the Lebanese Maronite Order. It was established in 1961 and was the first university established by a Lebanese initiative, the monks of the Maronite Order. The teaching institution has 7,000 students. In total, there are ten colleges and institutes at Usek, as well as academic research centres like the Cecal. The university has four campi. The main one is in Kaslik, 15 kilometres away from Beirut.

Contact Cecal:
B. P. 446 Jounieh-Liban
Telephone: +961 9 600 000
E-mail:cecal@usek.edu.lb

*Translated by Mark Ament

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