During my time abroad in Jordan I had the opportunity to travel to Beirut, Lebanon through a travel enrichment grant from the Cabot family to study the city’s street art scene, known throughout the region and world for its vast size. My experience in Lebanon didn’t exactly go as planned and while our trip was cut short and I was unable to complete any of my planned activities, my time in Beirut constantly lives in my mind. I travelled to Beirut with Victoria Oakes, an Environmental Studies major with Anthropology and Arabic minors. She had been hoping to study conservation efforts in the country as well as important archeological sites.
On October 17, 2019 we arrived in Beirut, where we promptly went to sleep. Overnight the Lebanese people broke into massive protests which shut down the entire city as well as other parts of the country. We wandered around the streets of Beirut, trying to avoid the protests and unable to go on any of our planned excursions since everything had either been cancelled or closed. I was still able to see the street art in the city and in light of the protests I came to understand it in a very different way than I had expected.
We had originally planned to remain in Beirut for five days, but we returned to Amman, Jordan after only two days. Still, I took hundreds of photos of street art in the city and wandered around Beirut, which was vastly different than I had imagined it before travelling. The lush greenery, walkability, and culture in Beirut was very different from what I had experienced in Amman for the last two months.
My trip to Beirut also helped inform a project I was doing for the Weave News. My first article for the Weaving the Streets series, which is about street culture and public expression around the world, was focused on these protests. I was able to research and gain a deeper understanding of the events I had watched unfold that weekend. I applied my research into these protests to the street art I found in the city and came to understand the roots of this revolution as deeply personal issues to the Lebanese people that cut across countless social divisions like religion, ethnicity, and socio-economic class. I gained experience in citizen journalism, a deeper understanding of popular revolutionary movements, and was able to use my passions for art and grass-roots politics to understand the complex protest movement that sparked in Lebanon while I was there.