Travels to Lebanon

For a year between his studies at Harvard, from 1924 to 1925, Francis taught at a school in Beirut, Lebanon.

Hillside in Lebanon

Hillside in Lebanon, circa 1925

A representative of the American Near East Colleges had come to Harvard to recruit men for short-term teaching positions in Beirut. Francis was excited at this prospect, and thought of it as a "godsend." He had no plans after he earned his first degree, and this seemed like a great opportunity to do serious work as well as explore his writing. 

Play given by orphans at hilltop orphanage, Sidon, Lebanon

Play given by orphans at hilltop orphanage, Sidon, Lebanon, circa 1925

The children that Francis taught came from different backgrounds and different countries. Some had been chosen by their governments to attend the school because they were the brightest students; others were sent to the school because they did not pass certain exams at home. The children that impressed Francis the most, though, were the Armenian boys who lived in a refugee camp, displaced by massacre in their home country. They were the most ambitious and idealistic - and they did not let their poorer circumstances keep them from going to school.

Pigeons' Rock, Raouché, Beirut

Pigeons Rock, Raouche, Beirut, circa 1925

Francis thoroughly enjoyed his time in Lebanon. The sights, the sounds, and the smells all painted an intriguing picture that he would refer to as an Arabian Nights atmosphere. This was an adventure for him, one that gave him a sense of purpose and inspired his imagination. More importantly, he felt a sense of community with the other teachers at the school, like he belonged.