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Promoting entrepreneurship key to education: U.S. envoy
File - U.S. ambassador to Lebanon David Hale is seen during a meeting in Beirut, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
File - U.S. ambassador to Lebanon David Hale is seen during a meeting in Beirut, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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BEIRUT: Entrepreneurship is one of the pillars of economic growth and social development, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale said during a visit to Haigazian University Thursday.

“Entrepreneurship has become a buzz word lately, but don’t let the popularity of the topic fool you,” Hale told students during a trip to follow up on the recipients of a American-funded scholarship program.

“Entrepreneurship is not a fashion trend; it is one of the pillars of economic growth and social development. It helps in creating jobs, advancing innovation, and keeping the economy vibrant,” he added, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy.

Hale’s visit started with a short meeting with University President Paul Haidostian, after which the envoy had a look at the students’ exhibit booths that feature their social entrepreneurship projects.

The U.S. financially supports the school’s University Scholarship Program, which has benefitted 64 students since it was established in 2010.

The merit-based scholarship is awarded to students from public school in 22 different districts of Lebanon. Scholarships cover tuition fees, books, living expenses, housing and medical insurance.

Students are encouraged to pursue an education that promotes tolerance, gender and social equality, and develop leadership, critical thinking and initiative-building skills.

“The United States recognizes the importance of education in preparing young people ... to successfully compete in the 21st-century job market and contribute to the future of Lebanon,” Hale said. “That’s why we have invested in you here at Haigazian. We believe that education encourages innovation, nurtures creativity and develops entrepreneurship.”

Hale said the goal of the scholarship program was to promote a balance between social responsibility and entrepreneurship, adding that Lebanese students have numerous role models for inspiration.

“For example, Ziad Sankari,” he said. “Ziad is an alumnus of the U.S Fulbright Scholarship Program.

“When he was just 17 his father passed away from a heart attack. After his studies, Ziad began a company that developed a medical device that can monitor cardiac patients outside the hospital. The device alerts them if there are changes to their health that require medical attention.”

“Ziad had a great idea, a good education and a lot of motivation to succeed,” Hale added.

President Haidostian thanked USAID for years of financial support to deserving students, saying “a balanced life in the modern world is based on a balance of multicultural education.”

“Haigazian University has been and remains a bridge-builder among cultures and ethnicities, bringing components of the Arab, Armenian and American cultures into a harmonious mix,” he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 20, 2013, on page 4.
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