The Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University of Beirut (AUB) is honored to announce that the 2023 recipient of the prestigious Dr. Hassan Abbas Award in Citizenship and Social Justice is undergraduate student, Rand Zeitoun.
Remembering Dr. Hassan Abbas
Dr. Hassan Abbas, the man whose legacy this award honors, was a firm believer in truth, justice, human dignity, participatory democracy, equality, and tolerance. As an author, scholar, activist, and founder of the Syrian League for Citizenship, his life was a testament to these values. This award is dedicated to students who emulate his vision and spirit.
The Journey of Rand Zeitoun
Rand Zeitoun, originally from Syria, has exemplified these values throughout her academic journey at AUB. Despite the personal and academic challenges, she faced, Rand’s resilience has been inspirational. Rand’s journey encompasses adapting to a new language, navigating through patriarchal societal norms, and serving as a supportive figure for her peers.
A Deeply Impactful Role at AUB’s OIP
In her recent interview with the Asfari Institute, Rand shared her transformative experience at the AUB’s Office of International Programs (OIP). In her role there, she mentored students in circumstances similar to hers. This deeply impactful work has allowed Rand to provide essential support to her fellow students, a reflection of her commitment to community and inclusivity.
The Power of the AUB Community
Rand also commended the sense of camaraderie and mutual support within the AUB community, emphasizing that this has been an environment where she could truly be brave. She affirmed, “We are all human beings, we are equal, and we have the right to make a positive impact on our society.”
Advocacy for Values and Rights
Reflecting on the societal values that are integral to our collective existence, Rand stressed the importance of democracy, human dignity, equality, and a commitment to truth. According to her, the absence of these values could lead to the downfall of society.
Her advice to everyone, especially those who are hesitant about taking the next step, is quite powerful. She says, “Take that small step, embark on every journey even if you are terrified, and be firm enough to do something.” These words of encouragement are a testament to her grit and determination.
In Rand Zeitoun, we see the embodiment of Dr. Hassan Abbas’s values and aspirations. As the 2023 recipient of the Dr. Hassan Abbas Award in Citizenship and Social Justice, her remarkable journey serves as an inspiration to all students striving for academic excellence and social justice. The Asfari Institute takes pride in fostering such dedicated students and looks forward to continuing to support them in their endeavors.