In the framework of the five-week Summer School, organised by RestART Beirut with the support of the Swiss Embassy in Lebanon, students from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) and the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) worked hand in hand on the stucco restoration of the Sursock Palace while sharing and exchanging knowledge.
Gaia Iacobucci, a student in Conservation and Restoration at SUPSI University, shared her experience with us.
How did you learn about RestART Beirut’s Summer School? How did you feel about it?
Gaia: During the first semester, our professor told us about the opportunity to do a working experience in Lebanon, without being specific. She told us only about a restauration mission in one of the most famous palaces in the capital city. My first thought was “I want to apply” but then I explained that opportunity to my family and they seemed frightened. I knew absolutely nothing about the political situation in the county, I remembered only the video of the blast and knew that some years ago there was some conflict but nothing more. So, I started to do some research about it and I found a lot of chaotic information. In the end, I didn’t apply. Instead, two of my classmates applied for the mission which was supposed to take place in January, but unfortunately, because of the pandemic the mission was postponed. I had more time for thinking and I discussed it with my classmates. They convinced me to apply for the summer school and so I did. I was very excited to go abroad and work out of Ticino. I have never been out of Europe and the idea of working and living even only for five weeks enthuses me lot.
The thing that I liked most was the opportunity to see another culture, another kind of building, different from Switzerland and have the possibility to see it not as a tourist but as a worker.
Gaia, SUPSI student
What was your first impression of Beirut?
We arrived in Beirut during the night so I didn’t see much in the car from the airport to the apartment, but the next morning once out of the apartment I started to be in love with the city. I don’t know if I fell in love because it is completely different from Switzerland, I know only that everything that I saw seems that be something beautiful, even the chaotic electricity cables.
What did you learn during these five weeks?
Gaia: When we started to work with the Lebanese people, I found them very collaborative, kind and very nice. The first week one of them would every day drive us home or to the grocery shop if we needed. Also during the weeks, they were always available and keen to explain to us their country and their habits. I learned lot about these people and this county, and it’s something that I will be difficult to forget. Regarding the work, I learned a lot about my profession, what you can do in difficult situations.
I learned about the material, the stucco decoration, and I learned what is its weakness, I learned new treatments and how to decide which is better to do compared to another one. I can say that I learned very much from my professor.
Gaia, SUPSI student
About the Lebanese people, I think we exchanged a lot on the human side.
What advice would you give future students/applicants?
Gaia: I would definitely suggest applying immediately and I would also say that could be a super interesting experience, something that they will never regret. I would say also for future students that would like to do this summer school, that it is an experience not to be missed. In the end, I want to thank you, members of Restart, really thanks a lot for this gorgeous opportunity