Lifelong Learning Society Teaching
Dr Walid Phares, founder of the Florida Society for Middle East Studies, the largest regional group in MES in America
By Dr Walid Phares
Feb 13, 2011 - 1:09:00 PM
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"They were inspired to learn more after participating in some of the first courses taught on the Middle East by Dr. Walid Phares. Dr. Phares was teaching courses on the Middle East and comparative politics. Dr. Phares encouraged the fledgling group of approximately 25 students to pursue in depth study on a number of Middle East subjects."
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The Florida Society for Middle East Studies (FSMES) got its start when in 1995, students of the Lifelong Learning Society were inspired to form an independent study group on Middle East studies.
They were inspired to learn more after participating in some of the first courses taught on the Middle East by Dr. Walid Phares. Dr. Phares was teaching courses on the Middle East and comparative politics. Dr. Phares encouraged the fledgling group of approximately 25 students to pursue in depth study on a number of Middle East subjects.
The study group originally met in members' homes. However, as more members of the LLS community attended Dr. Phares' LLS lectures, more people became interested in joining the study group. The Society was born when members decided to elect officers, a board of directors, and an advisory board. FSMES members paid a modest sum to join and this money paid for a meeting room and expenses related to hosting both domestic and international experts as guest speakers to lecture on subjects related to the Middle East and Middle Eastern affairs.
Years before September 11, 2001, FSMES members learned about jihad, the divisions within Islam (Sunni, Shi'a, etc.), the history of the Middle East, the issues creating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Hezbollah, Hamas, al-qaeda, the ramifications of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, as well as, the continued existence of slavery in Sudan, Mauritania and other Middle Eastern countries.
The Society now has over 900 members and is the largest community-based Middle East studies organization in the United States. There is a waiting list of individuals wanting to join. The Society has hosted and continues to host lectures by experts on the Middle East.
In addition to the monthly lecture series, the Society has provided monies for several scholarships to deserving graduate and undergraduate students pursuing Middle East studies. The Society is providing seed money for the development of a balanced Middle East and National Security Studies program.
The Society became a tax-exempt organization under section 501 (c) 3 of the U.S. Internal Revenue code in 2006 in order to provide these monies, and to provide a fundraising mechanism to support the Society's projects.
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