It’s 3:34 pm on Wednesday. I’m in the newsroom in my workplace where I still don’t know if I’ll come tomorrow and continue working or not. So many thoughts are now in my mind, as usual, very random, and very urging.
Mostly my thoughts are about my LEAD 6 friends, graduation, the unknown future, and all the other attempts to fight stress and depression, as well as standing up for my beliefs.
I don’t know really how to reflect on four and a half years with the LEAD program, being enrolled at AUC, and having my life turned upside down. I’ll try my best though. I need to document this.
Time: June 2009. Specifically it was during my Thanawiya Amma final exams. I was filled with stress and uncertainty. Not looking forward that much to my final grades, or to what I am going to do with my life. I was going to get enrolled in the faculty of Mass Communication at Cairo University. Totally unaware of what is coming next in my life… Not even knowing much about AUC. What I just knew is that it’s the most respectable university in the country for its quality of education. Wished I can get enrolled in a university like that, but did not know this was possible.
My mother entered my room with a newspaper ad about the LEAD scholarship. I wasn’t sure about it. Told her they must have chosen earlier the selected students, or that I don’t have a chance. But for the first time she acknowledged that I have done many activities and that I’m eligible for the competition. Thanks to my mum, she handled all the bureaucratic papers and procedures amid some really discouraging teachers at school and employees at the educational administration.
I was not that sure I’m going to be selected, but was all for the experience. My dad accompanied me in all the competition processes, and I applied at Cairo University simultaneously with the LEAD program.
To my amazement, I was selected, although I did not have much confidence that I was any more eligible to win than the other applicants who clearly had more experience and more extracurricular activities. I was told that for the orientation, I’ll come to stay at the university dormitories starting August. I was very excited yet so afraid of this whole new experience. I have never lived away from my parents. I have never even left the area of Nasr City by myself without getting lost. I was just a kid who was keen on reading Al Dostour newspaper and had passion and hope to change the country, and the world as well.
Throughout my first two years at the university, I was very eager to know about everything in my surroundings. There were so many differences, and so many choices, and I, like many other young Egyptians in my age, was not used to that space of freedom before. This made me fear change a lot. I was so stubborn for a long time holding beliefs and morals that I was raised on thinking that they are being my own, resisting several attempts to go beyond what’s taken for granted and questioning things. I don’t regret that much now however. I’m grateful for the experience as a whole.
The revolution took place on my second college year. Since then I can claim breaking so many boundaries and staring at fear in the eye. There were times of blind courage and enthusiasm, and others were of foolishness and extreme vulnerability and self-harm. Among many others who suffered not physically but emotionally and mentally during different times of the revolution, I was included.
But the thing is, throughout taking myself out of many comfort zones, I was able to (sort of) find many fallacies in my way of thinking. I was able to doubt and ask, and I was able to love myself more, and show the others my true self.
I will never deny that my stubbornness and impulsiveness always get me in trouble. But development is an on-going process, and definitely I would not have reached where I am now without the support and mentorship of so many precious people in my life.
During my last retreat with my LEAD cohort friends whom I consider a family, I was proud to show them how they mean to me despite any conflicts/embarrassing situations/disappointments…etc. I happily told them how I felt, and expressed my fear of what’s coming next. Our time in Marsa Alam is unforgettable, and I’ll always remember how I felt loved, and supported during these few days. I’ll always remember, how I didn’t want the time to end.
My last two days as an undergraduate were unexpectedly amazing. I was surrounded with immense love and support, and this helped me overcome all sorts of challenges and fears I have in mind. My future is still undetermined. The future of the things I believed in the most is not very fulfilling at the moment. Human Rights violations in my country that used to ache my heart are being doubled, tripled, and quadrupled. And I began to lose that sense of empowerment that I can fix it all. All I can do now, is working on fixing myself, and forcing the others to accept who I am, and what I can do.
I don’t know how I’ll be able to thank each and everyone who I owe so much for, and I’m sure I’m going to forget plenty of people, but really, despite how cliche it sounds, all your efforts are appreciated. A gentle encouraging word, or constant help and advice… I’m pretty sure that if everyone had enough support in their lives, no hearts or hopes of people were to remain broken. People were to become stronger everyday.
Thanks to Sarah El Nashar, Iman Kaiss, Sulaf Taha, Ahmed Taha. No words can give you enough credit.
Thanks to Dr. Ronnie Close for making me discover that I love photography. I have so many plans in mind about photojournalism, and hopefully the right time will come to implement them. Thanks to Dr. Kim Fox, although sometimes I felt being pushed too hard, I knew that I learned great stuff in each class I took with you and I discovered that I love audio as well. Thanks to Dr. Firas Al-Atraqchi for the continuous support and the new things I know from you everyday. Thanks to Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch for the first philosophy class I took in my life, that made me discover how philosophy is the most important thing to learn in the world. Thanks to Dr. Jason Blum for a very amusing and enlightening course about different religions. Thanks to Dr. Lammert Holidjk for a class that teaches you that not all you think you know is absolutely right. Thanks to Dr. Ashraf Al Sherif (Political Science), Dr. Shereen Moody (Principles of Advertising), Dr. Sayyed Ahmad (Sufism), Dr. Sayyed Fadl (Arabic Literature), Dr. Noelle Houssny (Public Speaking), Dr. Mohsen (Guitar), Dr. Jennifer Davis (RHET 201) and Dr. Mervat Abou Ouf.
To my friends from university, I sincerely hope we will remain in touch forever. I mean, life without Yasmin, Heba, Dahlia, Katy, Marwa Arafa, Caroline, Hadeer, Sally, Sara Reda, Maha, Sara Alaa, Reham, Nada, Menna, Viola, Samar, Sheri, Atef, Abdallah, Yassin, Hossam, Mostafa, Kareem, Amr, Naguib, and plenty of others will lack lots & lots of FUN!
It’s 05:28 pm. I’m still in the office. Still thinking what I should be doing next. Still feeling very stressed, but I know nothing lasts forever. To sum up these thoughts… I’ve always had this question in mind about which brings more energy and has more influence:
The positive energy you gain through inspiration, love, laughing and good memories or the negative energy that can be easily gained from every little thing in this country.
These are the kind of questions I’m waiting for life to answer. 🙂