In this role, Ms. Rihani will design events centered on promoting peace and breaking down barriers to peace. Courses on related topics beginning in the spring of 2017 are also planned, which is all part of promoting scholarship and writing in these areas.
“As director of the Gibran Chair, I hope to create a deeper understanding of topics affecting the global scene today—examining peace, the role of women, and the pursuit of common ground,” Ms. Rihani said. “These are themes that the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran explored in his works, and they are terribly relevant to our times.”
Ms Rihani an author of 8 books, is a pioneer in girls’ education, and is an advocate of women’s rights. She served as co-‐chair of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) between 2008 and 2010. In the U.S., she has played an important part in increasing our awareness of the challenges young women around the world face by testifying on Capitol Hill, and by contributing to the docudrama Girl Rising produced by Ten Times Ten that aired on CNN in 2013.
Ms. Rihani hails from a family revered in Arab-American literature. Her uncle, Ameen Rihani, an acclaimed, intellectual and political activist, has been anointed with the honorary title of “the founding father of Arab-American literature.” Ameen Rihani’s work with and friendship to Kahlil Gibran are of great depth and influence.
Gibran found in the older man a kindred spirit, describing him as a great poet, and in later correspondence referred to him as “al- mu‘allem” which means teacher, addressing him as “my brother in art and my co-worker in the realm of God’s law.”
The Gibran Chair was established at the University of Maryland in 2009 and was designed to explore Kahlil Gibran’s life and works, and, through them, address moral and social determinants of public justice and peace.
The Chair’s longtime incumbent, Dr. Suheil Bushrui, passed away on September 2, 2016. Dr. Bushrui was the world’s foremost authority on the works of Kahlil Gibran, and was an internationally cherished scholar, author, poet, critic, translator, and advocate for peace.
His legacy will be well served with the appointment of Ms. May Rihani as Chair Director, and the Gibran world has gained a worthy beacon in furthering the Kahlil Gibran scholarship.