Following her enrollment in the US Semester at Sea (SAS) study program, a multi-country study abroad program on a ship visiting different countries across the globe, allowing students to discover the world. Liliane Angela Daou has offered herself a unique study experience abroad: she has taken university courses on a cruise ship for nearly 100 days! Interview.
You’ve Changed is your first book. Why did you write it and choose such a title at 24 years old? My book You’ve Changed tells about my experiences and the lessons I learned while sailing the world with Semester at Sea. My trip on the boat was transformative and had a big impact on me. I learned a lot about myself and the world. So with my book, I wanted to talk in a concrete way about my experiences and create something worthy to share with my entourage. Through the different stories I tell and the title of the book, I highlight the importance of travels and their power of change over people, including expanding their perspectives and turning them into better persons. I really believe that if people traveled in order to explore different environments and cultures, they would better understand the communities around them, making them better citizens not only of their country but also of the whole world. In today’s world of conflict and tension, I believe it is crucial to encourage people to travel more because it will promote cultural tolerance and peace in the world.
You were the only student from the Arab world to enroll in the SAS study program in 2017. Describe this experience, your impressions … What did you learn? It was very beneficial to me to be the only student from the Arab world among 600 other foreign students. Of course, it was sometimes difficult because I did not have anyone to communicate within Arabic or to share my cultural habits for nearly 4 months, but that reinforced my personality. Indeed, I had the chance to be the only person to represent Lebanon and the Middle East. I was in a situation meeting different people, which taught me to always accept others, regardless of their differences. Hence the interesting conclusion that I drew: the fact that I am from another social background pushed me to look for the little similarities that I could find between my culture and those of others and to realize that despite our diversity, we share many common standards with each other.
What advice would you give to young people who want to travel and to their parents? Since I am convinced that traveling is the best way to get educated, I strongly encourage young people to travel and explore other horizons. It is not always necessary to fly to countries far away. It is enough simply to discover a new city in our country and to get to know better its inhabitants. I really encourage young people to embark on this adventure, because it will allow them to get out of their comfort zone, mature and develop their personality. It is also very important to travel solo sometimes or in small groups, as this would shed light more profoundly on new places. As frightening as it may seem, a trip will always open the eyes of travelers to something new and make them mature in a certain way. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next trip! With regard to parents, I understand that it is often quite difficult for them to send their children to unknown places, especially if they go there alone; but taking the risk is worth it. Once back, their children will be transformed into open-minded adults who are more tolerant and able to better deal with the challenges they may face later in life. My message to parents would be to let go and send their children on well-planned trips. After all, in today’s world that stays connected 24 hours a day, it’s easy to reach anyone at any time.
You are now a consultant at Boston Consulting Group, Dubai. Would you think one day to come back and settle in Lebanon? Of course! In the long term, I find myself living again in Lebanon. I really appreciate the values and culture of my country and I would like to take advantage of it. At the moment, I think being in Dubai and working with Boston Consulting Group is crucial for my career and my professional development, but I do not see myself settling here forever. I really believe that the woman I will be one day is the product of Lebanon and it is very important for me to return to my country and give back to the Lebanese community what they offered me, helping me to shape my personality.
Is your book available in Lebanon and abroad? My book is currently sold in Lebanese bookstores, mainly at Antoine and Virgin Megastore. You can also find it at the Lebanese airport and buy it online on the website of my publisher Dergham (www.Dergham.com). It will soon be available in bookstores in Dubai. For the moment, it is only at the Kinokuniya Japanese bookstore in Dubai Mall.
Finally, you visited eleven countries in a hundred days. Which one has marked you the most? Each of my experiences in the 11 countries visited was unique. I would say that they all touched me and taught me something new. But if I had to choose a country that marked me more than others, I would say India. There is something in this country that leaves me speechless every time I think about it. It is one of the richest countries in terms of culture. A country that can teach you something new, simply by strolling its streets: be it in terms of societal and cultural habits, religious norms, way of life or even when it comes to learning to be satisfied with simple and minimal things in life. This country is incredible, you have to go there! It is unavoidable. Interview Conducted by Mireille Bouabjian.