AUB Outdoors is the biggest student-organized event in Lebanon, taking place at the American University of Beirut (AUB) on a yearly basis, on the third weekend of May. This year the theme was “The Alien Invasion.”
Walking around AUB’s main campus during Outdoors is like strolling along a never-ending path of fun and excitement. Food stands, entertainment shows, concerts… you name it! Students make sure guests enjoy every minute on campus, every year.
A Glimpse of the Past
AUB Outdoors started in 1981 after students felt as if their campus was too politicized and that there was no room for artistic freedom of speech. They also needed funding for their photography team, mentions Raghda Jaber, PhD, an instructor at AUB’s Regional Extension Program and former 1982 Outdoors Theme Director. David Thaddeus, who was also an AUB student in 1981, suggested back then to close the West Hall building in AUB and to host different shows and acts in its rooms, including a graffiti exhibition, a fashion show, a movie, etc. and to provide food on campus. He called it “Indoors’’, as Dr Jaber tells us.
The Outdoors family also made a positive impact during Lebanon’s civil war. It was on June 5, 1982, with the Israeli bombing in the South of Lebanon and heading to the capital, that Dr Jaber and the other Outdoors organizing members had to send the event’s attendees away before it ended the next day. All the money collected during the event was given to the Red Cross and the Outdoors family started collecting supplies, and cooking food and distributing it to the refugees who escaped from the South of Beirut. “We called it the AUB Relief Force and it lasted the whole summer,” says Dr Jaber.
AUB Outdoors 2016
Outdoors 2016 invited Lebanon to AUB’s own city of colors, which was named “Colorstop.” The event happened on May 21–22 and more than 22,000 visitors attended. Creative food items were sold, including rainbow bagels and ice cream sandwiches. Fitness classes such as body combat, Zumba and yoga were available, and visitors competed in the Big Race to win $3,000.
For the first time in Outdoors, an art exhibition was held in the West Hall hosting the work of talented Middle Eastern artists, with psychedelic kaleidoscopic visuals and original collective contemporary art pieces. Famous Lebanese performers included the C U NXT SAT Crew, Virgin Radio Roadshow with Anthony and Frankie, ChiNN, Tanjaret Daghet, Meen and Adonis. The event ended with the one and only European band Kadebostany, who held a concert on Bliss stage.
All event revenues were donated towards a brand-new study room in AUB’s Jafet Library as a way to give back to the students. The room was announced on December 1, 2016, right before fall’s finals period.
Preparations for the Outdoors
It all starts with the students. A new cabinet of students is formed every year with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) being chosen by AUB’s Dean of Student Affairs, and the rest of the cabinet members interviewed and shortlisted by the CEO. The cabinet includes:
- Chief Operations Officer (COO)
- 2 Operations Officers (OO)
- 2 Secretaries
- 4 Vice-Executives (VE): VE of Marketing and Sponsorship, VE of Food and Games, VE of Concerts and Entertainment, and VE of Construction, Decoration and Safety
- 10 Team Leaders: Marketing, Sponsorship, Food, Games, Concerts, Entertainment, Construction, Decoration, Safety and Photography
- Creative Director leading a team of designers
- Theme Director
- Area Manager
The event revolves around a new theme every year. Thus, upon formation of the cabinet, members pitch and present ideas to select the new theme. Previous themes included “Colorstop,” “India” and “New York.” Then, a call for team members is launched across AUB, and all students, from various majors and faculties, receive an email inviting them to select which team they want to join for the year.
Teams meet on a regular weekly basis, and students work all spring semester to make sure that all brainstormed ideas reflect the general theme and are feasible, both execution-wise and cost-wise. For example, the Food Team should come up with a cookbook or food catalog displaying what food items will be featured in Outdoors, and the Games Team will be brainstorming different games. Construction and Decoration teams are tasked to turn the upper campus upside down, to guarantee that visitors will be immersed in the theme once they enter through AUB Main Gate. People will know about the event details because of the efforts of the Marketing Team, and Sponsorship members are responsible for finding sponsors. Concert and Entertainment teams will hold auditions all semester for students, professionals, and whoever wants to exhibit their talent in Outdoors, to guarantee two different original line-ups for the weekend; and Safety members will be trained to handle any security-threatening situation during the event. Meanwhile, AUB clubs are invited to participate in the event by hosting stands put together by the construction members, at which they will sell food and/or games that fall into the general theme.
All revenues collected during the event are usually donated to a good cause, and each year the new Outdoors cabinet starts from scratch. It all ends with the students.
A Final Quote
Dana Karout, CEO of Outdoors 2017 explains how her experience has allowed her to grow personally since she joined Outdoors three years ago:
“AUB Outdoors has been a long journey for me: starting as a member in 2014 and reaching CEO in 2017. AUB Outdoors was the rabbit hole of my entire experience as an AUB student; once you’ve fallen in, you can never go back. Year after year, the Outdoors family began to expand and achieve the unexpected, from international acts to record attendance.
I do admit that I have created the most memorable memories throughout these years, and, as I always say, AUB outdoors is the best opportunity I had to grow as a person and I encourage all AUB students to enjoy such a remarkable experience!”
For more info: www.aub.edu.lb/sao/activities/org/Pages/outdoors.aspx
Facebook: AUB Outdoors
Twitter: @AUB_OUTDOORSSee as published