is a governor and founder of the Centre for Lebanese Studies at St.
Antony’s College (Oxford University), a Trustee of the Guerrand-Hermès
Foundation for Peace, a founding member of the Ara Pacis Initiative, a
former member of the Advisory Council for Religions and Spiritualties at
the Fetzer Institute and of the Advisory Board of the Center for the
Study of World Religions at Harvard University. She is a practicing
As witness of the pain of the civil war in Lebanon (1975-1991), Alexandra decided to explore her own responsibility for war and peace and became a psychotherapist. In 1997, Alexandra had a life changing experience that inspired her to begin the Garden of Forgiveness (Hadiquat as Samah) in Beirut, a project to create a garden in the heart of the City to facilitate forgiveness. The work on the garden is currently suspended due to security conditions.
Alexandra Asseily is presently keeping the essence of the Garden of Forgiveness alive by a central project, entitled “Healing the Wounds of History: addressing the Roots of Violence”. The theory is that the cycles of violence between generations are healed by forgiveness and compassion. In the “Healing the Wounds of History” project people are taught to become aware and sensitive to the depth of their own and other’s traumatic memory and pain, which they may have experienced or unconsciously inherited. The release of this pain in traumatic memory, past or present, also releases the impulse to repeat the violence, inwardly or outwardly. This training has already been conducted since 2011 with hundreds of people of different ages, religions and ethnicities. Our intention is now to train teachers, both Syrian and Lebanese, and to offer ‘tools’ to reduce tension and create positive change in the individual and the group during a very difficult and dangerous time.
She is married to George Asseily and lives between Beirut and London. She has five children and twelve grandchildren. In 2000 she and her husband developed The Silk Museum in Bsous, Lebanon, which is open to schools and the general public.