The Dulles International Airport buzzes with the voices of countless travelers rushing from terminals to family members to baggage claim. The Collegiate Emerging Leaders anxiously await the arrival of the Lebanese participants, who have been traveling for over twenty-two hours.
At 6:17, a woman in a brightly hued honeydew dress grows tired as she waits for a friend or family member to walk through those slate grey doors. London arrivals rush towards their greeters, hugging tightly and smiling broadly. A man in a maroon turban scours the scene for a speck of familiarity. Riding the wave of the crowd, a young Indian girl, clad in a red coat and pink slippers, sits atop the overflowing luggage cart pushed by her mother. Behind her, the girl’s twin sister, wearing a matching coat and slippers, towers above everyone else while sitting on her tall father’s shoulders.
At 6:28, a family of six reunites. As the waiting father, two sons, and daughter spot the wife, baby son, and two daughters, the youngest son hops off of his mother’s luggage cart to rush into his father’s arm, with tears streaming down his cheeks. In the waiting area, a young Hispanic girl clad in princess garb tiptoes and dances in circles, unable to control her excitement any longer. Nearby, an older woman and her daughter embrace, clutching each other’s cheeks, their multicolored kurtas mixing and blending to create knots of reds, violets, and oranges.
Finally, at 6:24, the Lebanese participants walk through Dulles’s customs doors, bleary-eyed and tired, yet with vibrant, excited smiles. Anticipating another busy day, the Lebanon ambassadors returned to the Embassy Suites hotel to gather some much-needed, restorative sleep.