The Geology of our Campus [A Poetic Activity]

In my literature class today, we read the “Geology of the I” by the Lebanese poet/writer/journalist/activist/educator Joumana Haddad. It was fascinating to see how students interacted with the work. Many of them loved Haddad’s ability to simply walk us through the pieces of her life…making us relive each and every moment; others considered that it wasn’t “meaningful”…that there was no structure. Others wanted to pin it down to one or two themes which they could successfully categorize. Either way, they had an opinion to share, and I expected that!

What they didn’t see coming, though, was that in the space of a few minutes, they’d be expected to carry out a similar exercise. My students suddenly realized that they’d be going on a field trip…not too far though… just on their own campus.

Their mission was simple:

  • choose a campus location
  • write out its geology

Caution: the images you will see below aren’t your traditional portrayal, and definitely not what you’d find in a catalogue! 

What my students came up with is a highly personalized portrayal of our own campus seen through the eyes of exhausted students at the end of a long hard day…yet students who were excited to be “doing” something as opposed to sitting in class for a lecture.

Really need to thank my incredible literature class who still manage to be alert despite the darkness beyond our windows…Enjoy the fruit of their expeditions [I just selected a few excerpts] 🙂

And for LAU students out there…do you agree with this description of your campus? What would you have done?

“Fine Arts”

I am an intruder

I am masked

But, I am true

I am every feeling and every act


I am every possible scenario of every possible story

I am a place of when a boy and a girl kissed

I am the memory of what is missed

I am the best in some peoples’ lives

and the worst that some survive



I am the fixed leg of the LAU compass

At the center of our campus

I am the voice of justice

where students relax and teachers suffer

[classes on ground floor; offices on the second]


“Business Building”

2 Mostafas sitting in the smoke, gazing at the front access of the Business Building

having a cig

What is clear is the architectural perfection that cries out the fact that the moment people are leaving the crystal-sshaped doorway

are men and women of business and future hot-shots.

It is the future and it is Manager of all managers that will crawl out to the economic world.


“The new building off the BB”

I am the future of LAU

I will stand here until I am useless

Medicine will cover me and nourish me

My roots reside here within the students spirits.


“Upper Gate”

I encountered many generations and still could not graduate

for I am the open dripping condensed milk can

sticking to the hands of those who dare to touch me

the steam escaping each plastic cup.

I am the rotten white van, the ancient flat tire,

and the flickering neon light.


“The tree in the center” 

I’m the soil that’s holding my roots

I’m the rocks around my soil

I’m the roots that dig through limbo

I’m mother earth who gave birth

to the breeze that flaps through my leaves.

If you enjoyed this exercise, why don’t you pick a spot near you and do the same?


About Reine Azzi

An instructor who teaches so many different courses at university! Best way to remain passionately challenged! I'm also the licensee, curator, and host of TEDxLAU which adds so much excitement to my life!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Geology of our Campus [A Poetic Activity]

  1. Michel Choueiry says:

    I adore it!!!! Especially the “Fine Arts”!!! I’m thirsty for more please!!!!!!

  2. Shoug Al-Nafisi says:

    Very interesting takes there! We’re missing out on so much! Take me back to LAU!

    • Raghida Ibrahim- English Instructor says:

      Reine, this activity is very interesting!! I loved the one on the upper-gate!! It brought back memories from a distant past (mind you, not very distant) when we used to go on strikes and sleep at the upper gate making sure nobody comes in, and with the “steam escaping (our ever – lasting) plastic cups, we would try to keep warm!!

  3. vivian tawk says:

    Very creative indeed! I like how you linked Haddad’s work to an outdoor personal activity uncovering students’ personal ideas as well their thinking process. Good job Reine 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s