Second islander escapes Lebanon
Marisa Dabney is awaiting a flight to Washington, D.C.
A second Big Island woman who was evacuated from Lebanon to Turkey and is waiting for a flight to Washington, D.C., where she attends college, her grandmother said last night.
Marisa Dabney, 20, had been studying Arabic language at the American University in Beirut, said Carolyn Vanoven of Eden Roc.
Dabney is a 2004 graduate of St. Joseph High School in Hilo, where she first got interested in international affairs, Vanoven said.
Dabney had been studying in Beirut since June 26, said Ann Pauley, vice president of communications for Dabney's school, Trinity University in Washington, D.C.
Dabney is one of six Trinity University students chosen as an Intelligence Scholar, a study program for students considering a career in U.S. intelligence agencies, Pauley said. Dabney is the only student from Trinity in Lebanon, Pauley said.
"Obviously our primary concern is her safety," Pauley said. "And yet I think it is an opportunity for her to see firsthand some of the very challenging issues that people all around the world really struggle with."
Dabney's time at the American University of Beirut originally was to have concluded Aug. 4, but was shortened, Pauley said.
Violence that broke out between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas on July 12 has prompted many of the estimated 25,000 Americans who were in Beirut to flee.
Vanoven said Dabney, whom she raised since her father died when she was 11, has sounded "marvelous" when she talked to her on the telephone almost daily.
Vanoven said the events of the past weeks have not changed her granddaughter's desire to work for the U.S. government in the Middle East after she gets a master's degree.
"She wants to bring peace. She wants to help," Vanoven said.
"The weekend before the bombing started, she and some others had gone to Syria for the weekend," Vanoven said. "She was all excited about Syria."
"The only thing that she was disappointed (about leaving early) was she wasn't going to be able to finish this intensive Arabic class," Vanoven said.
Vanoven said Dabney almost got on an airplane out of Turkey yesterday, but at the last minute it was canceled. "I don't even know what town she is in, but at least she's safe."
Vanoven said government officials told Dabney that it may take as long as a week to get her to Washington. Vanoven said Dabney is not planning to return to the Big Island before the fall semester, because "we can't afford it."
Another Big Island woman, Kamehameha Schools teacher Sarah Ahmadia, returned to Hilo late Sunday, after being evacuated from Lebanon and traveling six days to get home.