US Trip – 22 and 23 October
Thursday, 27 October 2022
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By David Gray
Saturday, 22 October
I had a slightly quieter day today. My first appointment was to have lunch with two of the Lebanese business people who had attended the fundraising dinner the previous evening. We dined at a Lebanese fast food restaurant called Boaz in Cleveland and discussed ways in which the school could be supported. Both of the people I lunched with will be coming out to Lebanon and meeting me in Brummana in the next couple of weeks to discuss matters further.
In the early evening I went out with Chadi Bou Serhal, the Physician who had set up the fundraising dinner and with three of his friends. We had dinner together and discussed fundraising for the school, reviewed the previous evening’s dinner and came up with a plan for fundraising projects. This was a very interesting discussion and one which I hope will lead to further developments.
We then had the opportunity to do something completely different, attending the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Richard Strauss’ Alpine symphony and a relatively new work a viola concerto by Jörg widmann. This was an experimental piece of music about which I had some doubts initially given the fact the viola player spent most of the performance walking around the stage between other members of the orchestra. This however, was all quite deliberate and part of the visual attempt to integrate the viola into all parts of the orchestration. It was a very pleasant way to spend the evening after many days of intense presentations.
Afterwards I returned to my hotel and did some preparations for Sunday since I have 3 presentations, two online and one in person to make in Cleveland on Sunday morning, afternoon and evening. In the early hours of Monday morning I shall then catch a flight from Cleveland via Newark to London where, God willing, I shall arrive in the evening.
Sunday, 23 October
Sunday was a busy day for me in Cleveland. It started with a remote online presentation to Quakers of the Newtown Friends meeting. I made my presentation from my hotel room and I found it rather unnerving to be speaking to an unnumbered group of people in Pennsylvania. The technology worked well in the end and we were able to project videos of Lebanon in crisis, a PowerPoint of the school and its many facets and testimonials to support our efforts to raise funds in a desperate situation for staff, and for financial aid for students. The key to all of this will be to follow up names and emails after the trip is over, irrespective of pledges which may be received in the meantime.
I then had a very brief break before taking a taxi to another part of Cleveland to attend the Cleveland Quaker Meeting where I gave the same presentation, but on this occasion to a hybrid audience made up of those who had attended the meeting for worship in Cleveland and others who were online. This again was well received. Everywhere I have gone I have been greeted by warm support and a sense of astonishment at the situation in Lebanon and how it affects institutions such as our school. Having said that people are more aware of the collapse of Lebanon than I had thought would be the case, which has made my presentations easier to deliver, because those hearing them, on the whole, know what I am talking about.
On my return to the hotel I had something to eat and time to rest before my final presentation of the day which was again online to Quakers in Pennsylvania who attend the Arch Street Meeting. This went well and I was asked searching questions. This brought me to the conclusion of my USA trip.
Tomorrow morning (Monday 24th ) I shall travel to London on the 6AM flight from Cleveland via Newark arriving, on account of the time difference, in London around about 10 o’clock in the evening. I shall not write a diary date entry for the Monday since I shall be aboard aircraft all day; So the next report will come on Tuesday the 25th of October.