Delegation of Arts Leaders from Lebanon Visits Perpich Center
March 13, 2023
Perpich Center for Arts Education was pleased to welcome a delegation of arts leaders and professionals from Lebanon to campus on March 10, 2023. The group was invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The program is arranged by Mississippi Consortium for International Development. In addition to visiting Minnesota, the group also traveled to New Mexico and New York. Their Minnesota appointments were arranged by Global Minnesota.
Conn McCartan, Perpich Arts High School Principal, wasn’t sure what to expect when Perpich was first approached to host a delegation of artistic leaders from Lebanon. “By the time we were done with the visit, it felt like one of the most impactful experiences we had this year,” said McCartan. “These leaders are touring the United States to gain insights into how artistic organizations, including educational organizations, operate and advocate. As the delegation learned about our school and agency, they expressed that it was the most inspiring visit they have had in our country. They had an opportunity to hear how our school operates, how our agency supports and advocates for arts education, and saw our students in action as they prepared for a gallery opening and a musical theater performance. To a person, they expressed to our students and to school leadership that we should feel so fortunate to have the opportunities we do at Perpich.”
Josyane Boulos is Administrative and Artistic Manager of Le Monnot Theatre, the most prominent theater in Beirut. She is also an award-winning playwright, script writer, editor, film producer, and actress. Ms. Boulos engages underprivileged youth in theater activities and leads a non-profit focusing on young adults with cognitive disabilities. “‘ART IS FUNDAMENTAL’ I will never forget these words from Principal Conn McCartan who warmly welcomed us at Perpich. That visit was the best professional moment of my whole trip,” said Boulos. “It felt like being in the movie ‘Fame’, that movie/series that made me dream when I was a teen. When the [musical] theater students gave us a little demo of their play, I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t help but tell them that they were very lucky and that they should never take things for granted. Perpich High School should be multiplied in thousands in all the world.”
Youssef Naiim, a cultural activist in the music sector, is also the creator and founder of Beirut Jazz and the Beirut International Jazz week. His current aim is to develop Beirut into a jazz hub for the region. “Coming from a country where the public schools (and even some of the private ones) can barely give basic courses due to many reasons: lack of human resources, no power, no water, no tools, no financial support; and seeing many of them also serving the interests of the politicians and raising the kids to worship these leaders instead of becoming an active and productive citizens made me think a lot about the importance of a system similar to Perpich’s system in my country, and what it can offer to the new generation and the society as a whole,” said Naiim. “To study there is really a rare opportunity that billions of kids don’t have. Perpich is really inspiring for people like us to learn how the community can really work to offer such a life changing experience for their kids, who will in return serve it in the best way possible. I do believe that the work done at [Perpich] is magnificent, and I was impressed with the passion of the school’s team and the kids for what they are doing. If I can roll back the years and was a bit lucky to be living in Minnesota, I would definitely tried my best to be a student at this school, and at a later stage maybe a teacher there or part of the team. Keep up the great work, and all the love to this wonderful team from Beirut.”
Maya Hage is the Head of Education Programs at the Beirut Museum of Art. In her work, she oversees the execution of the art education program in public schools across Lebanon run in partnership with the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education. “What comes to mind when thinking about Perpich Arts High School is care, mindfulness, empathy, engagement, and dedication to the most vulnerable ‘other’,” said Hage. “For my practice I find the Perpich Arts High School 360 degrees curricula inspiring for the way I conceive arts education and even education at large.”
Hiba Chehabe is a Business Developer at Saint Joseph University of Beirut. She is also a gallerist and an art consultant. Throughout her career, she has promoted Lebanese and international artists through handling gallery operations, the curation of artworks, and managing social media accounts. “Personally visiting your school, meeting the professional team and students, was a beautiful and insightful experience,” said Chehabe. “Especially that various arts programs are implemented giving a unique chance to develop talents. It was the first time I experienced such a project, coming from a country where public schools struggle with basic needs. Hoping one day to have an exchange with your reputable institution and implement such a project in Lebanon!”