5- JCU student spends part of summer in Lebanon

October 11th, 2012

Senior Laura Kisthardt has had a fascination with politics since her senior year at Western Reserve Academy. Therefore, it was not surprising when she decided to major in political science upon arriving at John Carroll University. This past summer, her enthusiasm only grew.

After getting accepted for a trip sponsored by The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Kisthardt found herself beginning her journey to the Middle East.

In June, Kisthardt started off attending an orientation in Washington, D.C. before the trip commenced. Afterward, she arrived in Lebanon, starting her journey throughout the country.

One of the issues emphasized during her trip was women’s rights. As a result, she was able to meet several influential women, including a princess, Hayat Arslan and a pioneer for women’s rights, according to the Hudson Monthly.

Kisthardt explained, “I’ve always been interested in travelling to other countries and experiencing new cultures. This love for travel is what drew me to study political science at John Carroll and then what led me to be involved with the Model Arab League.” Kisthardt participated in the Model Arab League during the spring of 2012 while in Professor Debaz’s class, comparative politics of the Middle East course. “I really enjoyed this class, and we had a great time at Miami of Ohio for the Model Arab League.”

The delegation from John Carroll represented Lebanon and was awarded Honorable Mention for Outstanding Delegation. All Model Arab Leagues across the country are run by the National Council for the US Arab Relations.

Each year, the National Council hosts a study visit to a country in the Middle East for MAL alumni to learn first-hand about the countries they represented. Debaz nominated Kisthardt and she applied for the study visit.

“I wasn’t sure of my chances, but I dreamed of how life changing travelling to Lebanon would be,” Kishardt said.

Although Kisthardt was greatly fascinated with her trip, she did not leave her passion back in Lebanon. She recently started a blog documenting her time in Lebanon and her experience since returning to the U.S. She continues to post on her blog,, and includes pictures and feeds about her travels.