Youth of Lebanon: How does immigration sound now?
BEIRUT: From when the Lebanese youth start their education, they are expected to take a series of hierarchical steps that seem to lead to the same eventuality: emigrating to pursue a better future abroad.
In 2015, the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimated that there is a global stock of almost 2 million Lebanese emigrants, with females constituting more than half of the figure.
The same source found that the majority of emigrants comprise those aged between 20 and 64, with teenagers constituting a rate of 46.
According to a 2017 research study conducted by the Lebanese American University’s Department of Economics, “university education in Lebanon promotes the willingness to emigrate,” which is not a surprising revelation since the National Youth Policy Document recently found that Lebanese youth unemployment is 35 percent, with unemployment higher among the higher-educated youth.
Nonetheless, ever since Lebanon's uprising began, a spark of hope lighted among the youth.
Annahar interviewed several students and graduates from numerous local universities, mostly within the age group of 19-28. They shared how the revolution and its accompanying hope for change is making them reconsider immigration.
The revolution is pulling many members of the Lebanese youth into the loving arms of their homeland, while being a cause for short-term immigration to others, and a long-term one to some who have completely lost hope in their country.
For Alisar Houchaimi, a 2019 graduate in Architectural Engineering, the revolution brought about “a little hope and a lot of youth potential,” so immigration is “out of question."
A supporter of this viewpoint is Candy Zgheib, a 2019 graduate in Psychology, who told Annahar that “it feels difficult to leave a Lebanon that has hope for change.”
Similarly, Lucia Narsha, a 2019 graduate in English Studies, found that the revolution “extinguished any future plans of immigration” she might have had within her.
“Before graduating, I was uncertain about my future steps, but moving away was definitely on the list,” she told Annahar, “But after noticing the hope the revolution brought and the excitement for a new Lebanon, immigration became a horrible concept for me. Lebanon needs its youth in order to flourish and become what we are all hoping it would be.”
Tarek Fawaz, a 2019 high-school graduate, told Annahar that he is leaving to France in two months to begin his undergraduate studies.
“I don’t want to leave,” Fawaz said, “and if I could withdraw my application, I would. But I promised myself that the second I receive my degree, I will catch the next flight back to my homeland which will have hopefully blossomed by that time.”
Wissam Moussa, a 2018 MA graduate in Animal Production with a BA in Agricultural Engineering, told Annahar that the revolution lessened his desire to immigrate.
“Before the revolution,” Moussa said, “I was fed up with the state of hopelessness of both the Lebanese government and the people. But now, after a month of revolting, I have faith in a better Lebanon that may soon provide a positive and secure future for me.”
But this is not the case for everyone. Some youth are still leaving, baring in their heart the hope of coming back one day.
Abir Cheaito, a 2019 graduate in English Studies, is leaving Lebanon next month.
“Last year, I got a job offer abroad and rejected it,” she said, adding that it was only a few days before the revolution when the dollar crisis had erupted in Lebanon that found out that the job vacancy was still available, and decided it was the right decision to go for it.
Likewise, immigration is on the horizon for Rodric Mohasseb, a 2015 graduate in Marketing and Advertising, Garen Aprahamian, a 2016 double-major graduate in Computer Science and Business, Harout Markarian, a 2014 graduate in Interior Design, and 2 other university graduates who requested anonymity.