Cultures Without Borders: From Beirut to Washington, D.C. by May A. Rihani
I have never met anyone who so adeptly mixes academics, philosophy, technical know-how, advocacy, and common sense like May Rihani. I have watched with awe as she has applied her unique set of skills and made a difference in the lives of women and girls around the world.
Stephanie Funk, USAID Mission Director, Zimbabwe
May Rihani’s book is proof of the emptiness of three stereotypes: she challenges the idea that Arab women are submissive, that there are no democracies in the Middle East, and the notion of a “clash of civilizations.” Her life demonstrates global leadership by a Lebanese Arab woman, and her memoir describes a golden age in Lebanon when democracy and freedom of expression were taken for granted. Perhaps most importantly, Cultures Without Borders finds the common ground among cultures despite apparent differences. This is an eyewitness account of the rich and profound goodness in humanity.
H.E. Amine Gemayel, former President of Lebanon
Weaving between poetry and politics; evoking the intimacy of family and the openness of public service; at once struggling for local girls’ education/poverty alleviation and negotiating with World Bank and UN officers; laboring every day for economic development for women and yet running high romance with Romeo lovers; conversing equally with illiterate village friends and global leaders – May Rihani invites us into a Lebanese and American garden throbbing with its unfolding mystery; enchanted by fragrances of East, West and South; and exhilarated by the empowering possibility of a life lived fully every moment and yet always with an eye to the possibilities ahead. She humbles, she empowers, she inspires.
Suad Joseph, Distinguished Research Professor, University of California, Davis
Cultures Without Borders contains important lessons for all those who aspire to live as productive global citizens in the twenty-first century. On the macro level, May Rihani’s book demonstrates the falsity of the “clash of civilizations” theory that posits inevitable conflict between peoples of differing cultures. Instead, through personal anecdotes and authoritative evidence drawn from real-world experiences, she demonstrates the universality of the impulse to transcend frontiers of the mind and connect peacefully with “the other” through education and dialogue.
Suheil Bushrui, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland