Freshman Sharbel Habchy finds himself yearning to return to his father’s home in Lebanon.
While both his mother and father came to the United States at 18, his mother moved from Spain where she lived a comfortable and safe life as the daughter of two engineers. His mother and father met at church in North Carolina during their college years.
“They’re very secretive about how they met. Very humble people,” said Habchy. “You wouldn’t guess they immigrated here.”
Although he was initially opposed to going, Habchy and his older sister travelled to his father’s hometown in Lebanon of Deir El-Ahmar this past summer.
“It was just a whole different world out there,” Habchy said, as he described life in the town, where power outages are never-ending and travel by car is limited, as gasoline is expensive and hard to come by. Despite the culture shock, he genuinely thinks it’s a better way to live.
“Everyone there is happier,” said Habchy.
Though Habchy has only been to Lebanon twice, his mind brims with memories of stories told to him throughout his childhood. His father was the oldest of five, and the son of one of the town’s most beloved men.
Habchy describes the tensions between different religions in Deir El Ahmar, recounting how his grandfather defended the small town against a terrorist attack alone and armed only with a gun.
While in Lebanon, Habchy and his older sister spent time with their many cousins and extended family. The language barrier was amusing to the Lebanese side, and Habchy had to work to communicate with his family. They slept in the mountains, explored the deserts, and rode ATVs for fun.
Growing up in New England, Habchy was privileged in ways that his father wasn’t. He was homeschooled until 7th grade when he attended Trivium School, a classical Catholic academy in Lancaster, Massachusetts. His love for this school, where he intends to send his own children, does not extend to the state itself. He finds the cultural desire for money and status depressing.
Habchy’s aversion to being surrounded by money-driven individuals was a factor in his decision to attend the University of Dallas. He appreciates the humble attitude UD has and its general culture of traditional Catholics.
“I work as a custodian on campus currently,” said Habchy. “I saw a friend of mine taking out the trash one day on campus and asked him what he was doing. Now I have this job, and it’s pretty fun.”
Habchy has worked many odd jobs in his life, such as dishwashing throughout high school, as well as at a golf course and at a petting zoo.
His major is still undecided, but he is considering either physics or biology. Despite an initial struggle with math, Habchy’s favorite class is now Calculus I with Dr. Osoinach.
While he is still uncertain about his path of study, Habchy has always dreamed of spending his adult years travelling and raising a houseful of children. Maybe it is his father’s deep roots that prompt a return to Lebanon someday, but Habchy cannot imagine committing his own family to life in Massachusetts and instead hopes to return to Deir El Ahmar.