To conclude our series highlighting people who have moved back to Lebanon, we wanted to share the story of Rami - a recent returnee.
Rami was living in NYC and chose to come back to continue to pursue his startup in Beirut (Twig Collaborative), be with his family, and reconnect with a good group of friends.
Did you have to come back to Lebanon or did you choose to come back? Why?
In general in life, recognizing the agency of your own decisions is a big step in your career, in becoming an adult, and forging your own way in life. So it’s definitely based on choice. I chose to come back to Beirut, for multiple reasons. The first of which is family, work, but most importantly, I think Beirut is an extremely and dialectically very inspiring and frustrating sort of place to live in. And somehow, for a designer, that keeps you on your toes.
How do you make the most of living in Lebanon?Food, beach, work, family, in no particular order. I think Lebanon has so much to offer from it’s landscape to its culture to the food, to the people you meet - both an amazing international crowd and a vibrant local crowd. I’m doing my best to make the most of Lebanon.
What is one of the biggest challenges of living in Lebanon after living abroad?
Once you live abroad, you become complacent and you expect things to work out, you expect the internet connection to be perfect, you expect great customer service, you are used to a certain level of liberty in expressing your thoughts and yourself and engaging in public discourse. So one of the biggest challenges is to find a way to exercise all of those things and to have all those amenities in Beirut. It’s not impossible, it just takes a little bit of work and a good dose of patience.
How have you implemented what you learned abroad into your life here?
Moving away from NY, you do lose some opportunities. I was finishing my masters degree, I was teaching at Parsons, and it’s not super easy to walk away from that city. But I don’t necessarily think of them as sacrificeis. I think of them as this time is done, and it’s time to come back. And I think that’s the only way to have enriching experiences. I don’t see them as sacrifices, I think that’s part of life.
What’s one of your favorite things about living in Lebanon again?
I don’t do favorites very easily. I would say spending time with a good group of friends that I would say I have generally missed. With that said, most of my friends now have one foot in Lebanon and one foot in another part of the world. But what I love about this group of friends is that everyone makes it a point to come back to spend some time in Beirut and I think that the memories that we make and spending genuine time together, it’s widely enriching. So I would say my favorite thing about living in Lebanon is the people.
What would your advice be for other returnees?
My advice for other returnees is have thick skin, remember why you made the choice to come back. Recognize that there are so many frustrations but also so much potential. In a lot of ways, this place is a fertile ground for so much. So my advice is to remember why you came back, and if it wasn’t your choice, how do you make the best out of it?
Find your people, find your tribe, find like-minded people you can discuss and share life with. And what I mean by like-minded is not finding people exactly like yourself, but find people you’re comfortable enough with to build bridges of communication with. They can be people who carry quite a different set of values and life views, but find your tribe who you can have enriching experiences with.
TOG Team ft. Rami