With a determination for continuity and a spirit of community, AUB students, administration, and friends gathered to craft a message for future generations and capture in one box all that AUB stands for at present to be able to tell its many stories to coming generations.
To create a Time Capsule that will be opened in 50 years, AUB’s student newspaper Outlook invited students to submit material (notes, pictures, items) that best describe their AUB journey.
“We have received moving pieces from students who shared their favorite moments at AUB, they told us how they felt towards the university and how attached they are to its different aspects,” Dana Abed, Editor-in-Chief of Outlook, told us. “This school spirit is the kind of message we want to get across to generations,” she added.
In an official ceremony, President Fadlo Khuri spoke to the audience before he officially sealed the wooden box in front of AUB’s Jafet Library.
“This Time Capsule will be resonant because of the extraordinary things that our students, our staff, and our faculty do every day. In 50 years, when the time capsule is opened with a brief representation of everything that has happened in this momentous time when the Arab world and Lebanon are in a moment of change and when societies are convulsing […] they will remember the good things that are being done on this campus,” said Dr. Khuri.
“They will remember the creativity, the transparency, the honesty, and the industry of our students, faculty, and staff and what is being placed in this box is a small memento of those qualities that have made AUB great for 150 years and will make it even greater in the 150 years to come.”
During the ceremony, Dana Abed and Dana Kambris, the organizers of the Time Capsule event, spoke of the importance of getting personal messages across. While facts and official celebrations are preserved in archives, they believed it is feelings, memories, and wishes that need to be communicated to future generations.
“We want students in 50 years to understand what it felt like to be a student at AUB in 2016,” said Kambris in her speech.
Alumna and writer Arminée Choukassizian was the first woman to graduate with an MA in English Literature from AUB. Choukassizian read her poem “Once in a Hundred Years,” which she wrote for AUB and which she also read out on its 100th anniversary, in 1966.
Lokman Meho, Director of AUB University Libraries, spoke in the ceremony about the importance of archiving items that will tell coming generations how AUB has advanced despite the challenges it faces.
The ceremony was bittersweet as history was revisited. Director of the Archaeological Museum Leila Badre told her personal story when she was asked to lead the excavation of the last Time Capsule (a foundation deposit in a lead box) which was set in 1871 in one of the foundation cornerstones of College Hall and buried in rubble after the building was demolished by a bombing in November 8, 1991.
The original box contained a series of interesting documents, including a note by one of AUB’s founding fathers George E. Post, a list of AUB students’ and professors’ names, and early local Arabic publications. The lead box was retrieved and placed behind the plaque of the College Hall today. The precious items that were in it have been preserved in the Jafet Library archives.
The 2016 Time Capsule includes letters from students describing their day-to-day lives, group pictures from student clubs, sports t-shirts, motivational speeches that describe the motives of AUB students in 2016, USBs, lists, stories, a stone from the old College Hall upon its demolition, and some of the best memories of 2016, such as the student’s elections and athletic achievements.