Escaping the threat of sectarian violence in his native Beirut, Fadi BouKaram began a journey a few years ago after discovering that his Lebanon on the Mediterranean was not the world’s only. In fact, the US has at least 47 towns or municipalities with Lebanon in the name (e.g. “Lebanon Junction”).
BouKaram knows this, because he plotted them all on a map.
After some years studying in the Bay Area and working in the States, he made the jump to “make this trip” because he figured if he didn’t do it now, he’d never do it. As it happens, the timing happened to coincide with the leadup to the 2016 US presidential election. (This was the focus of Fadi’s 2017 interview with NPR.)
Here’s Fadi’s intro video, note his RV in the background.
Fadi’s visit to our Lebanon occurred Christmas Eve 2016, and while we’d all hope he delighted in our county’s bounty, he unfortunately had what seemed to be a quite somber experience. When your best photo of Lebanon, PA is an artsy Walmart shop, you probably aren’t maximizing your time here.
During Fadi’s time in Lebanon, he happened to take a picture that included a power plant; someone noticed and shortly thereafter both a North and South Lebanon police car showed up beside him. He explained himself and was free to go, but remarked that a joke about taking a picture of North & South Lebanon together didn’t go as well here as it might in Beirut.
If Fadi had let us know he was coming, things might have been different. Luckily we have a second chance. After taking a break when his RV got stolen, just before visiting his last of the 47 Lebanon’s, Fadi is now embarking on round 2 of his roadtrip adventure, and this time he’s bearing gifts.
Echoing a ceremony years ago where the country of Lebanon gifted cedar trees to seven US Lebanon’s, Fadi is revisiting Lebanon’s in the US to plant cedar trees in ceremonies with local officials.
Although it doesn’t seem likely that Lebanon, PA is on the list of cities to be revisited, perhaps that’s just for lack of trying. If you want to let Fadi know he should come back, you can find him on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as his blog, LebanonUSA.com.