Archive for June, 2015

I felt like I needed to write about you, and so I opened this blank page, and surprisingly, it remained blank for what seemed like eternity. Even worse, when I finally let a few words down, the backspace key wouldn’t leave them there for too long before deciding they just shouldn’t be there.

You. Oh the things you used to make me do. Oh the words you used to inspire by just crossing my mind. Oh the perfectly phrased sentences that never came out unless they were for you. You don’t inspire me anymore. You don’t move me. You don’t bring in any more feelings. And I’m not sure if I’m glad you’ve finally set me free, or if I despise the fact that I’m no longer able to write as beautifully as when you were still here.

Thing is, you never really were. It was all in my head, I knew. It was all in my head but I didn’t mind being in love with my own image of you. I’ve spent years making you up the way I wanted; making up our similarities, our stories and everything that came along. Because I needed you. I wouldn’t have survived without you.
Now, when I spot you, my internals no more twitch. When we talk, my voice is no longer lost and my words don’t flow as effortlessly as they used to, but they do come out more wisely. When I think about you, I don’t feel butterflies, neither do I feel the tears falling down my cheeks.

But I still care. I know. I care about you because I’ve been counting down to the day when I’m never going to see you again. I wish your presence didn’t bother me that way. I care about you because whenever we cross paths, I keep wanting to prove how strong your absence have made me, and how your absence was all I needed. I wish I could stop wanting to prove anything to you. I still care about you and I still secretly stalk you sometimes. I wish I could pretend you never really existed in my life before.

Does it really work this way though? Do I have to stop catching myself thinking about you, to be able to say I’m finally over you? Do I need to be super friendly in your presence just so you wouldn’t know your absence has been killing me?
I am not really sure. All I know is, you currently make me feel nothing. Nothing at all. Your presence is no longer irritating. I don’t see you in other people’s faces. And even more, I’m completely certain that my words, will eventually stop being about you.

I’m free.

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أخر أيام :)

Posted: June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized
في ظل قرب ميعاد تسليم الراية والحزن الكتير… لسببٍ ما كل ذكريات الـ٣ سنين اللي فاتوا مش راضيين يسيبوني في حالي بقالهم كام يوم.

٣ سنين.. مش مصدقة. ٣ سنين، كل سنة مختلفة تـمـامـاً عن السنة اللي قبلها. وكل سنة علمتني كمية حاجات بجد صعب تتكتب كلها. بس قلت أحاول أكتب عن جزء صغير قوي منهم.


من ساعة ما كنت Member ولسه مش مستوعبة أنا دخلت الجامعة إمتى أصلاً والا باعمل إيه في حياتي. ٤ أكتوبر ٢٠١٢، أول يوم دخلت فيه جلو ومن ساعتها وانا فضلت أدخل في كل الـcommittees اللي بالاقيها قدامي تقريباً! PEO و Logistics و Shooting and Editing وساعات Fundraising. وكل حاجة صغيرة اتعلمتها من كل Head أو Director ليا، وكل التركيز اللي كانوا بيركزوه معايا عشان بس يخلوني أنطق واحنا قاعدين في Meeting صغير (ماكانوش يعرفوا إن بسببهم دلوقتي محدش بيعرف يسكتني!)، وحفلة حمزة نمرة لما فجأة بقيت MC وانا كنت باتكسف من خيالي أصلاً، وكل Glow Days اللي فجأة بقيت باقوم أتكلم فيهم برضه وأتوتر وأقول أي كلام ساعات، بس ألاقي ناس لسه بتشجعني. والـRecruitment Campaigns اللي كانوا الـUpper Board Members بياخدوني معاهم فيهم عشان أتعلم إزاي أكلم الناس عننا وعن اللي بنعمله، لحد ما بقت من أكتر الحاجات اللي باحب أعملها دلوقتي (حتى لو الناس مش عايزة تسمعني D:) و Campaign سعادتك فين اللي كنت بامشي أكلم كل الناس عنها في الجامعة وانا مبسوطة قوي بس من جوايا مش فاهمة أنا إزاي والا إمتى بقيت عارفة أعمل كده أصلاً. والـCamp اللي غيرت حياتي تماماً في أربع أيام بس وفهمتني حاجات كتير قوي عن نفسي وعن اللي حوالايا وكانت من أهم الأسباب اللي خلتني أفكر أقدم السنة اللي بعدها، مع إني كنت على طول شايفة إني لا أصلُح لأي شئ.

٢٤ أغسطس ٢٠١٣، HR! اليوم اللي بدأت فيه أحس بالمسؤلية وبأهمية توصيل كل اللي اتعلمته لغيري حتى لو ماكُنتش أنا هاستفيد أي حاجة من كده (مع إني أكيد لازم هاستفيد). و Campaign أين أخلاقي اللي أثبتتلي إن الفرق اللي الواحد ممكن يعمله عمره ما كان بالكمية. وطلعت في التليفزيون أتكلم عنها وعن جلو وأنا بجد فخورة إني جزء منه. إتعلمت يعني إيه Feedback وأهميته ويعني إيه لما حد يشوف حاجة غلط بتحصل ماينفعش يقف يتفرج حتى لو مش عارف إزاي ممكن يغيرها، بس يفضل يعافر عشان يحقق الحاجة اللي هو بجد مؤمن بيها. واتعلمت إزاي أخد قرارات يوم لما أخدت أول قرار صعب في حياتي لوحدي تماماً من غير أي تدخلات وانا مقتنعة بِه. وبعدها EPR اللي اتعلمت فيها إن محدش هيتحمل نتائج قراراتي إلا أنا وإن الحياة مابتُقفش على حد عامةً. واتعلمت إن محدش عمره هيقدر يساعدني غير لما أنا أقرر أساعد نفسي الأول. واتعلمت إزاي أصعب التجارب هي اللي بتعلمنا أقوى دروس في حياتنا وإن الفشل عمره ما بيبقى فشل لو قررنا نتعلم منه ونقابله بعدها بنجاح. السنة دي كانت غريبة جداً وكنت فاكرة بعدها إني خلاص بقى كبرت وكفاية عليَّ كده. لول.

بعدين جه صيف ٢٠١٤، أغرب صيف في حياتي برضه. وقدمت على الـPosition اللي كنت متأكدة طول حياتي إنى لن أصلُح إني أكون فيه *أبداً*. بس حسيت بوجود ربنا قوي في الوقت ده وشفت رسايله في كل حاجة كانت بتحصل. ويوم ١٣ يوليو ٢٠١٤ بدأت الحكاية من الأول. هيح. مش متخيلة إن عدى سنة. سنة كاملة مليانة Ups and Downs بس الـDowns اللي كانت فيها أثرت فيا أكتر من أي حاجة في حياتي. كل Glow Day وكل General Meeting وكل Awards Ceremony وكل Training وكل Recruitment وكل Campaign وكل Video وكل Media Session وكل Academics/CDE Session وكل Off-Campus Event وكل يوم من أيام الـCamp، كل حاجة من الحاجات دي وراها قصص كتير قوي قوي قوي ممكن تملى كتب. وراها تعب وإختبارات من ربنا وإرادة وإيمان، وبعدها فرحة ماتتوصفش لما نشوف نتيجة اللي إحنا بنعمله في فرحة Member أو Feedback من Head أو Development في حد مننا. كل فتفوتة حصلت السنادي تعبتنا وفرحتنا في نفس الوقت، وفوق كل ده علمتنا كتير قوي. السنادي بالذات علمتني يعني إيه كلمة Vision ويعني إيه أكون مصدقة في رؤية مكان أو أي شئ باعمله جداً جداً لدرجة إن مفيش أي حاجة في الدنيا ممكن تحبطني لحد ما أوصلله. والا تعليقات من ناس والا قلة Support والا Spirit ممكن تضيع والا Output لسه مش عارفين نشوفه والا أي حاجة خالص. بس عشان أنا عيني على حاجة معينة مش هاهدا غير لما أوصللها. وحتى لو ماوصلتلهاش، هلاقي ناس معايا تكمل اللي أنا ممكن ماقدرش أعمله، لو همَ كمان مصدقين قوي كده. وحسيت بأحاسيس ملخبطة خالص مع كل Member كان بيجي يقوللنا حاجة أنا نَفسي كنت باقولها من سنتين للـUpper Board القديم. :”) واكتشفت إنه أحلى من إن حد يعمل فرق في حياتي، إني أكون أنا جزء -ولو صغير جداً- من الفرق ده في حياة حد تاني. واتعلمت إن النجاح له معاني كتير، مش شرط إن عشان معنى منهم ماتحققش يبقى خلاص إتحول لفشل، لأ. النجاح ده عمره ما كان له مقياس ثابت والا عمره هيكون.

إني أكون خارجة من المكان ده دلوقتي حاسة وفاهمة يعني إيه كلمة Development ويعني إيه Leadership وProactivity وSocial Responsibility وCulture ويعني إيه Respect وCare وDiversity مش عشان كل ده كلام محفوظ باكرره وخلاص، لكن عشان حرفياً عشت وحسيت كل كلمة من دول طول الـ٣ سنين، ده بالنسبالي نجاح كبير جداً للناس اللي عملوا المكان ده من ٦ سنين وهما مؤمنين جداً بفكرته. الناس اللي من غيرهم، أنا ماكانش زماني بقيت أنا دلوقتي. خالص.

وكل ده طبعاً من غير ما أتكلم عن الناس اللي قابلتهم في المكان ده خلال الـ٣ سنين اللي فاتو، واللي منهم ناس عمري ما أقدر أتخيل شكل حياتي دلوقتي من غير وجودهم فيها.

المكان ده هو اللي كبرني. المكان ده نعمة. نعمة صعب أقدر أشكر ربنا كفاية على وجودها في حياتي. نعمة نفسي توصل لكل الناس عشان يحسوا بنفس اللي أنا حاساه ده في يوم من الأيام.

الحمد لله. الحمد لله. الحمد لله. الحمد لله قوي.

No pain, no gain

Posted: June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

“Hi Basma! I have been trying to reach you all day. I just wanted to tell you that the security office could not approve your Fayyoum Camp because of what is currently happening in the country. So sorry. Good luck next semester, habibti.”

For some reason, that conversation still keeps replaying itself in my head, as I am spending the night getting ready to deliver my training for tomorrow. It is the second night of the camp and I am overwhelmed by how we have actually made it this far, despite the problems we faced. It had been scheduled for the 28th of January, 2015, yet Glow’s OSD adviser called on the 26th to let me know that AUC’s security office did not want to take responsibility for students when Egypt was in such an unstable condition.

Nada keeps tossing and turning in the bed next to me, unconsciously trying to find a position where the light is not reaching her face as she sleeps. The noise brings me back to reality every time my mind slips away. I understand that I am annoying her and Hanin by keeping the lights on, but I do not really have any other option. Nada is actually supposed to be up, preparing for the training with me, but she fell asleep midway while talking and I could not find it in me to wake her up again. We have been short on sleep for around a week now, but tomorrow is a particularly big day for me and I need it to go perfectly. I will be standing in front of the 20 camp members, talking, handling the discussion, reflecting, and above all; staying confident all the way through.

Flashbacks from the last Glow Camp that I attended have been making their way to my mind ever since we arrived here. It was my very own life-changing experience that I have been thinking about since the day I got accepted as President in July; trying to imagine how it would possibly feel like to finally be one of the organizers.

I remembered the night we were having a discussion about communication, when the trainers asked about some of the possible communication problems that we personally face. I am not someone who would normally spill out my problems and private issues around people whom I had just met, but for some reason, I was very tempted to talk.

“I have a problem…” I hesitantly half-raised my hand, trying to figure out if I should really be doing this. Everyone’s eyes shifted to me and the pressure of their gazes made me extremely anxious, yet they all quietly waited for me to proceed. I could not maintain eye contact with anyone and decided to stare at an empty spot at the back of the room instead.

“I do not know why, but I am just never able to word my thoughts into anything that is not writing,” I said, not shifting my eyes from where it already felt at ease. “Nothing ever comes out right, no matter how much I try, and I end up regretting letting anything out in the first place. It keeps happening. I have reached this stage where I do not even try to put an effort into sharing my thoughts anymore, because what difference would it make anyway?”

We continued discussing this all night, as everyone kept asking me more questions, giving me tips on how to overcome that, and somehow trying to make me more confident. I tried working on that throughout the rest of the camp, and I have to say; it made a pretty great difference in my life.

Two years later, I realize that I am now occupying a position that obliges me to pass everything on and help others reach where I currently am today. I have learned that having someone make a difference in your life does feel good, yet realizing that you, yourself, are offered the chance to be making a difference in someone else’s life is a whole different feeling.

“Basma? Basma! You left the lights on all night?!” Hanin calls out. “It is 7 a.m. already! Get up, we are extremely late!”

Jumping out of bed, I realize I have lost myself in thoughts and forgot about the training, that I actually fell asleep, too. We were supposed to wake up at 6 and make sure that the breakfast team has all the materials and food that they need, but none of us had heard the alarm clock.

Hanin and Nada are getting dressed and I find out that most of the members are already up as well, waiting for us; the organizers. It is embarrassing because we have been imposing rules on them ever since they arrived, and we have to lead by example all the time in order to avoid the punishments that we, ourselves, have created.

I am actually really happy with how everyone is following the rules so far, despite the camp’s location ending up being at the Zamalek dorms. We decided that no one is allowed to leave the dorms, for them to get a real feeling of being at a camp; totally isolated from the world and totally engaged in the activities that we prepared for them. None of our friends really took us seriously since we announced the new place, and I do not blame them because who goes camping in the Zamalek dorms after all? We did not really have much of an option though.

I went through a really tough time with Hanin in the car on the night we received the call, and this is all what we could come up with. I still remember how I silently continued listening to our OSD adviser then, as she was shattering my dreams in the course of a phone call, and I could not find anything to say. Hanin understood what was going on then without having to ask, but surprisingly, she completely refused to give in, despite how down we both were. I still remember the look in her eyes that night as she was trying so hard to save our dream. Her persistence was inspiring.

“It is not getting cancelled. The camp will come to life. I am certain. It will.” She kept repeating that all night, sometimes holding onto my arm for support, and filling me with a little more hope every time she said it, even though I could not see any way out.

We made all kinds of phone calls back then, trying to find other alternatives that would be safe enough for the security office to approve. Both of our parents were getting furious, since it was getting really late then and we were still staying in my car; refusing to move before finding a solution. I felt my eye muscles twitching so many times that night, just like they had randomly been doing for the past month of preparation. It probably meant that I was under too much pressure, because my eyes had not twitched since my IGCSE examinations – which constituted the most stressful phase of my life, but there was nothing I could do to calm myself down. The amount of effort and energy we, along with the rest of the organizers, had put into this camp’s preparations was making it very hard for us to just let go and drive back home. Neither me, nor Hanin, were ready to take no for an answer.

What is even worse was the amount of pressure we were under just to stick to our values.

“Why don’t you just ignore the OSD and the security office, and simply proceed with the camp without their permission? No one will ever know, and nothing will happen since people are always overreacting about the situation in Egypt anyway.”

This was how most of our friends and colleagues reacted when they knew about our problem, and it was tough knowing that the only option we had was one which we could never do. Glow has always been teaching us to respect the rules, no matter how little sense they made. If we could actually do something to change the rules, then fine. But given that we were under the umbrella of the OSD, we had to respect everything they said. We could not violate Glow’s values, especially not in such a situation that already had to do with Glow.

I am truly happy we never decided to give in back then and do a wrong deed. It was all happening for a reason, and being here now, everyday keeps proving this. In fact, I am thankful we did not end up going to Fayyoum. We constantly keep finding out that we are missing something from the camp materials, and being in Zamalek is the only way we are able to get everything we can.

“Good morning, organizer!” One of the members calls out from the other end of the floor, as I make my way out of the room. I know what is on her mind and I feel slightly ashamed.

She approaches me.

“Do not worry, I am not going to comment about you being extremely late.” She sarcastically says. She made me laugh and I apologized anyway.

“I just wanted you to know that yesterday was amazing, I loved every bit of it. The training about culture specifically; it was the first time for me to open up this way to people whom I do not even know, and I feel that I am gradually becoming more self-aware, and…” she pauses. “A little more confident, I can say. So, thank you for making this camp happen!” She smiles.

I feel a few happy tears falling down my cheeks as I reach out to tightly hug her. This is how I know that hard work will forever pay off. This is exactly the reason I can never give up. The members of this organization have been the main reason why I survived many painful experiences this year, but this is different. This is the same feedback that I gave to the organizers of my 2013 camp, and it never occurred to my mind that I could ever do the same. This is touching.

We chitchat for a while, then leave for breakfast. I mentally get ready for my training, knowing that I currently carry such a huge responsibility upon my shoulders; the responsibility of changing lives.

21 May 2015

My stories to tell

Posted: June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

Looking back at this year… (even though it’s not even over yet) I realize I’ve actually passed through a lot more than I ever thought I would. I’ve been wondering how all those events that I’ve witnessed could really fit into a period that’s less than a year, and how I never even “imagined” any of them happening beforehand.

Until yesterday. It all started making sense yesterday…

Out of no where, I remembered something that I used to pray for A LOT at the beginning of this year, and really insist on. I would always ask God to “give me stories to tell” out of all the experiences I’d pass through. And surprisingly, that’s all what I have right now. Tons of stories to tell. Stories about how unexpected people managed to make their way into my life and completely turn it around. And others who unexpectedly left me behind, only for me to shortly realize how so much wouldn’t have come true if they had still existed in my life. Stories about complicated problems that everyone would be certain there are no solutions for, yet somehow God would always have a plan that magically sorts them out – with a lesson learned, every time. Stories about things that I’ve been excitedly counting down the days for, but that never worked out – shortly proving that it would’ve somewhat been a disaster if they actually had. Stories about principles that always got challenged, and how sticking to the right thing in the midst of all the wrong people, would always work in my favor. Stories about the transformation of the old me, into a new me that now carries pieces of everyone who ever touched my life, and somehow blends them all together to surprise me.

Stories that can literally fill an entire book…
If I could, I would relive this year all over again. I wouldn’t change a thing.

But most importantly, if I could sum it all up in one sentence, it would be: Never underestimate the power of sincere duaa. Never underestimate the power of a God who lists all your wishes together, and perfectly knows when to grant you which. Alhamdulillah.

30 April 2015

Indonesion Reflections

Posted: June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

This is my very first volunteering experience outside Egypt, and I can definitely tell from the first few days that I hope it wouldn’t be the last. Indonesia is indeed a very nice country. Some stuff were pretty confusing at the beginning; like how the driver’s seat is on the right, not the left side of the car, and how almost everyone -including women- drive scooters for transport. Indonesians adore spicy food and they consume lots of rice and noodles everyday. They also all live together; muslims, christians, buddhists, and more, as one. You’d find it really hard to tell the difference and that’s one of the things I extremely love about this place. It’s getting very interesting to know more about the Indonesian culture, and it’s good to realize that some aspects are in fact very similar to that of Egypt’s.

Indonesians are very friendly and welcoming as well. It’s easy for them to notice that we’re foreigners because of our “long noses”, or so they say. I didn’t even realize that about Egyptians until I saw Indonesians’ noses!

We went to a nearby school this morning to talk to children about the English courses that we volunteer for and why they should join, and they couldn’t believe we came all the way from Egypt for this. All the little kids opened their notebooks and asked for our signatures as if we were some famous figures! And the older kids even asked for our Facebook accounts. They were excited about our presence and it was hard getting them back to their classes. They were adorable!

The kids in the centre, however, are still a little shy around us since they aren’t yet used to our presence, but they really are very smart and enthusiastic. Every time I ask any of them what they know about Egypt, they automatically answer “Pyramids!” And some of them even thought we were actually coming over by camels. It’s great to take part in changing some of the misconceptions that others have about our country. I am enjoying working with the kids so far because not only do I get to help them with their English, but I also get to practice the language more fluently and highlight whatever that I find out I still need to learn. Because after all, the best way to learn something is to teach it. It feels really good to be making a difference in someone’s life, even if it was for a very tiny portion of it. I keep thinking that when these kids grow up and travel around the world, they might be able to save themselves some trouble because of a word or two that we might have helped them learn.

Teaching English in Indonesia is more challenging than teaching it in your hometown for instance, because for children in your hometown, you can always translate any word that they don’t understand into your mother-tongue and it would work. But here, when you’re on your own in class, it’s either you speak Bahasa or you just have to find a synonym or an equivalent explanation for the word in English. This is sometimes challenging because I have realized that a lot of what we are taught is by common sense, but here, everything you say has to make perfect sense for them to get it all. Preparing for classes sometimes requires extensive research, to make sure you can convey everything clearly. Yet it’s still so much fun!

We’re currently trying to familiarize ourselves with some Indonesian words. “Terima kasih” is our favorite phrase so far! Bahasa is such an interesting language to learn.

6 April 2015.

For some reason, every time I unconsciously seem to be doubting how accurate “لا يكلف الله نفساً إلا وسعها” is, He makes sure to send someone into my life that perfectly shows me how I would have truly never been able to go through what they’re passing through while staying as sane and as strong as they are. Just like some people exist in my life in the form of إبتلاء صعب التخلص منه.. حرفياً, I still do cross paths with others every now and then who never fail to strengthen my faith without even realizing it, and who unawarely remind me of why I should keep holding on.

You do not have it much worse than anyone; you have it just as much as you can personally handle. What you go through might actually seem very trivial to someone whose capacity can bear a lot more than yours, yet it could seem extremely harsh to someone who is still too fragile to be living in this ugly world. Nonetheless, it perfectly fits you. It perfectly fits your condition, your exact situation, and the very lesson you’re supposed to be getting out of it. Just stop trying to make sense of it, because you’re never going to understand anything until it’s over. So, until then, just sit back and continue feeling good about the fact that God is really trusting you with something more than you thought you’re capable of, smile at how strong you keep growing, and smile at the thought of how it will all pass. Because it will.

23 March 2015.

“What makes you forget to eat?”

I’ve stumbled upon this question a few weeks ago, and felt weird about it at first. But it all shortly started making sense with the very next Glow thing that I had to do right after. I’ve found out how it’s never actually about the stress, or about not having enough time; it’s just about how something like this can beautifully invade every part of my brain at every given second, in a way that makes it impossible for my internals to resist, completely taking over all my hunger instincts. It’s about the feeling of satisfaction that this place brings into my life each day, and how it particularly taught me that satisfaction can always top happiness at any point in time. It’s about having a heavy brain at the end of each night, yet not minding stuffing it with more of what originally made it so, hardly leaving room for anything else. It’s about watching myself grow because of this place, and forgetting about the world in the process. It’s about so many things that I just can’t find the right words for at the moment. This place keeps making me forget to eat and I’m starting to not even mind it. I’m forgetting to eat but I’m sure I’m living through something that I would forever want to remember instead.

I think I’m slowly, steadily, and unconditionally falling in love with this place.

19 February 2015.