It is only when you hike the entire Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT) along the mountains and valleys of Lebanon that you truly understand and are fully exposed to its international dimension. Hikers from all corners of the world come to Lebanon to join the April Thru-Walk. Lebanon is the “ambassador” of millennial footpaths revitalized by the Lebanon Mountain Trail Association. During this yearly Thru-Walk, Lebanese, Americans, Australians, French, Canadians, Dutch and many others from foreign countries walk side by side for weeks, crossing hundreds of miles on foot, while exchanging memorable conversations and forging strong bonds of camaraderie. They are brought to the LMT by the common desire to capture this piece of history, or simply have joined the walk after hearing much praise about the LMT from enthusiastic friends of the trail.
We met Kevin Boueiry on the Jezzine section of the trail. Kevin lives in Boston, and has chosen the LMT and all its social, cultural, and human dimension, as his research topic for his PhD thesis. He wants to bring this unique experience to his university studies in America.
“I am an anthropologist and hiker; I have been trying to study the field of hiking for several years, through participatory analyses of development projects of new paths, especially in Africa and the Middle East. Previously, my studies focused on South Sudan, where I used ethnographic methods drawing on cultural themes from daily rituals such as family dinners, communal traditions and summer activities.”
When did you decide to dedicate yourself to Lebanon and why did you choose the LMT as your subject of study?
“I have a passion for walking, I like to follow paths and go on long journeys, and share my experience with fellow explorers and travelers. I have always thought of walking as a group activity, and always wanted to explore the Middle East with its riches, its millennial stories, and its unresolved conflicts. Here in Lebanon I can investigate the causes of the conflict and the peace process through participatory analysis and deep knowledge of the sources, and I can conduct interviews on the field. The different communities who coexist along the trail and in such a small space are a fascinating topic to study; and the LMT carries a message of tolerance, reconciliation, and coexistence between these communities. I hope to come back soon to see the results of my work and maybe spread them here in Lebanon. “
This article is made possible in the framework of the project “Conservation and Development of Economic Opportunities on the Lebanon Mountain Trail” under the EU funded Reinforcing Human Rights and Democracy in Lebanon – Active Citizenship, AFKAR III program managed by the Office of the Minister of State of Administrative Reform (OMSAR).
This publication has been produced with the support of the European Union. The content of this article is the sole responsibility of COSPE and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of European Union and the Office of Minister of State for Administrative Reforms (OMSAR).