Guest Post: Beirut by way of Goldsmiths

Beirut by way of Goldsmiths

Goldsmiths opened my eyes to the world. And I wanted to do something to change it. 


Sam Gough is a Communications Officer at INARA and previously at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Former staff are members of our alumni community and can keep in touch by updating their details online or joining  Goldsmiths Connect, our online mentoring and networking platform.

As I type this blog post from Beirut, I ask myself: how did I end up here?

I guess the easy answer would be to say that this has been something I’ve always been interested in. But I’ve never been the type of person who has the balls to do something big, to move away from my comfort zone, and try something new.

So what did give me the courage? I can attribute some of it to my time at Goldsmiths. I met many incredibly passionate people whilst there and working in the Communications team meant I got to meet staff from all over campus and pretty much every department.

One academic that stands out for me is Caroline Knowles. She travelled the world as a sociologist, trying to understand the global footprint of the flip-flop. Her story began in the oilfields of Kuwait and ended in the mountains of rubbish on the Somali-Ethiopian border. She was fearless in her pursuit of knowledge.

The academics and students I met at Goldsmiths had an outlook on life that wasn’t traditional – it wasn’t about having a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job. What they were doing was a life cause.

Earlier this year, I took a leaf out of their book. I quit my job and moved to Beirut to do something I really cared about. I found my cause in INARA, an NGO that provides life-altering medical treatment for Syrian children who have fled five years of horrifying conflict.

INARA was founded by Arwa Damon, a senior international correspondent for CNN. She spent so much time on the field in conflict areas and noticed many children were falling through the gaps.

Medical organisations on the ground here in Lebanon are overwhelmed, and they have to focus on saving lives. That has to be the priority. Seeing the impact that we, as an organisation, can have on just one life alone gives my life a new found purpose. And it makes leaving my comfort zone worthwhile.

I don’t think I’d have ever made such a big move in my life if I hadn’t met the people I met at Goldsmiths. There’s something about Goldsmiths that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s not traditional. It’s not formulaic. It’s about challenging perceptions of what is ‘normal’. But most importantly it’s about pushing yourself to be an instrument for positive change in this world.