Posted by: Bob Fisher | October 14, 2012

The Political Persuasion of Dani Saad: A Canadian Student of Political Science

Including a podcast with Dani Saad …

To listen to this podcast, click on the link below.

Chatting with Dani Saad

A citizen of the world

Dani is young man who has already “been there and done that”; however, his journey has only just begun.

The son of a Canadian-Lebanese businessman and a Canadian mother, Dani is also, in many ways, bicultural and bilingual. Speaking both English and Arabic (and some French because his grandparents in Lebanon often use French to communicate with their grandson), Dani therefore has developed a comprehensive worldview and the ability to transcend many borders. Dani has also spent considerable time living in Lebanon and experiencing that distinct Middle Eastern culture

As a student of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, he has embarked on a course of study which, given his bicultural heritage, will allow him to expand his horizons even more.

Lebanon and Dani’s experiential knowledge

I have often said that travel is the most experiential form of learning; and this is certainly true in Dani’s case. His understanding of the political systems in Lebanon, especially his understanding of the complex nature of politics in Lebanon and the Middle East, prove the aphorism. Dani’s explanation in the podcast of how and why Hezbollah gained power in Lebanon — it is important to note that the Canadian government, and other Western governments, have classified it as a terrorist organization along with numerous other groups — is further proof of his ability to understand the multidimensional history of Lebanon.

Having travelled in Lebanon, a nation which he describes as quite beautiful and scenic — a concept that many in the West may find surprising — Dani has been able to appreciate first-hand its diverse culture and its multicultural society.

Like so many other countries in the Middle East, Lebanon can also suffer from a “fixed notion”. However, like other countries in the region, it has an active tourism industry and also hopes eventually to benefit from substantial tourism revenues from the global travel and tourism market. The latter, by the way, is considered by some to be the largest industry on the planet. However, currently Foreign Affairs and Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel to Lebanon. In our chat, you will hear Dani comment on the implications of this travel advisory.

As the Discover Lebanon website explains, “Lebanon is probably one of the world’s most colorful destinations when it comes to tourist attractions. The country enjoys magnificent historical sites left behind by ancient civilizations like Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Mamlukes, Ottomans, Egyptians, Greeks, and other great empires.”

The Discover Lebanon website’s photo gallery also may surprise you.

Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University

Many people may not realize how comprehensive and multidisciplinary Political Science is. But what exactly is this vast field of study? The American Political Science Association describes it this way:

“Political science is the study of governments, public policies and political processes, systems, and political behavior.  Political science subfields include political theory, political philosophy, political ideology,  political economy, policy studies and analysis, comparative politics, international relations, and a host of related fields.  (For a good cross section of the areas of study, see the list of APSA Organized Sections.)  Political scientists use both humanistic and scientific perspectives and tools and a variety of methodological approaches to examine the process, systems, and political dynamics of all countries and regions of the world.”

And Laurier University explains it this way:

“Political science is the systematic study of power and authority, especially in the public realm. Political scientists work at the broad intersection of the social sciences and humanities, and at Laurier we treat the study of politics as an integral part of a liberal arts education. Members of our faculty teach and conduct research in all major areas of the discipline. Our department is home to the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy, and several of our faculty are active within the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo. In addition to offering strong undergraduate and graduate programs in political science (including a new MA specialization in Public Opinion and Electoral Studies), our department is active in Laurier’s honours degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and the interdisciplinary Masters program in International Public Policy.

Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s seventh prime minister and first francophone

Considered a true statesman, Laurier was also deemed a visionary who strove to bridge the gap between Canada’s “two solitudes” and to promote Canada as an international player on the world stage.

“As for you who stand today on the threshold of life, with a long horizon open before you for a long career of usefulness to your native land, if you will permit me, after a long life, I shall remind you that already many problems rise before you: problems of race division, problems of creed differences, problems of economic conflict, problems of national duty and national aspiration.

“Let me tell you that for the solution of these problems you have a safe guide, an unfailing light if you remember that faith is better than doubt and love is better than hate. Banish hate and doubt from your life. Let your souls be ever open to the promptings of faith and the gentle influence of brotherly love. Be adamant against the haughty, be gentle and kind to the weak. Let your aim and purpose, in good report or ill, in victory or defeat, be so to live, so to strive, so to serve as to do your part to raise even higher the standard of life and living…” — Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Travel journalists are often advised to stay far away from politics. But, as Dani and I discuss in the above podcast, politics is history; and unless you also “cover” the historical and political background of a destination, the story is not complete.

All journalists aim to remain neutral — as opposed to being objective,  humanly impossible given that we are sentient beings — but that too poses a huge challenge because we all carry some ethnocentric baggage with us.

Political Science is, as the term suggests, a science and all science is subject to change, revision, and renewal.

There is also, I believe, a new generation of young travellers who not only have the opportunity to”go there” but also — because of the ever expanding access to information by electronic means — are able, and very capable, of giving travellers a much broader perspective on human culture. This too, however, poses significant challenges for young people today because of the need to be media literate and to accurately evaluate and assess the source.

The global travel and tourism industry is one of the largest industries on the planet. Destinations are in competition with each other for tourism revenues and many of them therefore plan extensive marketing plans to attract travellers from all over the planet.

Travel can be enlightening and multidimensional. As new travel markets — like Lebanon — eventually emerge, we hope that peace, security, increased standards of living, and a global exchange of ideas will ensue.

To learn more about Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University, click here.


Other “political” stories from The Philosophical Traveller

The Civil Rights Institute of Albany, Georgia: Footsteps to Freedom

The Parallel Cultures of News and Travel Journalism

China Then China Now

African-American Heritage Travel in “The Year of Obama”

Photos courtesy of Dani Saad

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Responses

  1. Nice post and nice pics i am really enjoyed it.


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