Monday, September 19, 2016

The "V" Power

Looking back to my incredible 2 weeks in Krakow, 2 months ago, I can say that yes, the volunteers have indeed super powers :D

Anywhere you go, you could meet one of those blue hands greeting you to help you find you way, those young people in blue shirts working relentlessly to distribute the pilgrim kits or working in the different venues and event areas and those behind the scenes in social media or cameras, you name it.
Even the volunteers had their own volunteers looking after them!
And they are all smiling to you no matter what.
Wearing the blue shirt and the volunteer bracelet was a privilege for us, to be there making the World Youth Day happen and witness the change and transformation it brings to everybody, including ourselves. 



We were around 19,000 volunteers including 4,000 international volunteers. If you ever passed by the place were we sleeping, in my case at Wisla Sport Center, you would always find volunteers gathered during their rest time chatting, playing music, having a quick snack.. It was challenging sometimes to stay in one place but at the same time it was great you could meet your friends who are not working with you in the same department or assignment and get to know new friends.
This feeling of having a very big family, speaking all languages, sharing stories and experiences and praying together.
The concept of borders or divisions between countries are totally abandoned. We are one big family, we care for each other, we support and help each other. 
This spirit started even before meeting in Krakow. In the Volunteers facebook group, everyone was trying to help anyone who had a question or facing a problem. If someone had an information or a tip, it was shared directly, if some volunteers were needed for a specific task or in a certain location, you just announce it.

Going for the volunteer mass, filling the metro and then walking to the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Lagiewniki to attend the mass for volunteers was an incredible experience.
You could feel the energy and the joy spreading all around. I was also impressed by the choir, who was really superb. It was a moment of prayer, inspiration and blessings before starting our work as volunteers.



On a personal level, my experience with the Social Media team was an unforgettable one. It started 3 years ago in Rio for some of us including me, and even more for the few who witnessed its beginning in Madrid.
It was great to reunite again with my friends and to make new friends.
This was my home during the 2 weeks I spent. You could feel the energy once you entered our room. 
Knowing that what we do is perceived by millions, all around the globe, was a big responsibility. Each word, each photo or status shared, was important. We were the face and the voice of the World Youth Day to those who were not present in Krakow and to bring the spirit of the World Youth Day to those who didn't know about it.
For the Arabic page which I was working on, it was challenging to have everything translated in short time since Arabic was not one of the main languages were translations were already available.. yet, the many likes, shares and comments we received made us all proud. 

3 years ago, when I was informed I'll be in the communication team, I knew little what I was about to live. Of course, I had already personal experience with social media but it's something else to be responsible for reaching thousands of people who are following you.
In 3 years, things have evolved and we had also to adapt, new applications, new means for communication and new expectations.
But I assure you, that the hard work pays off. Receiving lot of photos and feedbacks, comments and questions, interacting with our followers was a real pleasure. You feel that what you do matters and is making a difference. It was also a motive to innovate and to be present on the ground, not only online. I've decided to venture and do some facebook live to show the world, first part of the mass and prayers during catechesis, then interviewing pilgrims.





Even if we were not the biggest language or the largest page, I'm proud to say that the number of our followers have doubled and together with all the languages, we are growing over the years. I still remember when we celebrated the 1 Million followers in Rio, 3 years later we almost tripled that figure.


#ThanksWYD for making me live a great enriching experience!



Thursday, September 01, 2016

A day to remember: "Memory, Courage, Future"!

A month ago was the last day of the World Youth Day, Krakow 2016. It was the most unexpected day of the 2 weeks I have spent in Krakow.
It started on the previous day, the day of the Vigil at Campus Misericordea. Once again, I attended it online as I was working... more about it in another post.
There was an idea to catch up the final mass with the Pope early Sunday morning. By early, I mean taking the bus for media at 4:30 am. I really wanted to attend the mass as it was one of the most memorable moments in Rio... but I had to let go of the volunteers meeting with the Pope as it was difficult to do both. It was a tough choice for me but I decided to go to the mass even if it was a challenge itself.
Arriving at Campus Misericordea brought back the memories of WYD in Cologne, 11 years ago.. a big field, people waking up early morning, the queues for bathrooms and for food.. But the mind and heart have changed in between.

I had to depart from my friends which whom i made the way as I didn't have a pass to the media section. I was supposed to meet another friend at the volunteer section. Going there, one Spanish pilgrim, asked me for help. She wanted to return to her section but the security didn't let her pass and she didn't have her ticket pass with her nor the mobile to contact her friends. She was really anxious on how to get back. I guided her from another way following the map and made sure until she found her group. I felt joy seeing her so relieved and thanking me for the help, as if I rescued her life. You never know the impact you have on people even for doing small things until you see it in their eyes. That's what volunteering is about.

I decided to find some of my pilgrim friends until my other friend arrived but I failed to reach them as they closed the main intersections before the Pope's arrival for security.. when I decided to return back to the volunteer section after staying stuck for a while, the moment I turned, I saw my friend I was supposed to meet.. Imagine seeing the person you were supposed to meet (at another point) in the middle of hundreds, thousands.. or shall I say 3 million people! It's like, divine providence, you don't need to worry about the how, you just leave it to God and everything will be managed on its time.





At the end of the mass, we started to walk to the bus drop off point.. at this point I realized how many people were actually there! It was so huge! I saw families, parents with children, even babies. People from all the places around the world.. all together in one place, chanting, praying, even dancing. I sometimes wonder, what if we remove all barriers and notions we have about countries, languages, culture, stereotypes. Wouldn't be a much nicer world to live in? 

Many people started to walk, everybody talking, and also waiting to hear the announcement of the next World Youth Day. We stayed a little in the shades waiting for the bus and watching pilgrims passing by. 
Of course no World Youth Day without rain. It stared to rain a lot.. luckily for us, we had the bus to go back to the media center, to continue working from there.. Everybody else had to walk under the heavy rain. I still had my fair share of the heavy rain later in the day. 

The day didn't end at this point. We went back to the media center to prepare for the last hours before leaving. We watched the Pope at Tauron arena, with all the volunteers. It was really amazing specially when Pope Francis decided to discard the prepared speech and to speak from his heart. Lucky for me he spoke in Spanish so I could understand it directly as I'm not that good in Italian which I started now to learn to be prepared next time.The speech (link in English) was so inspiring and can be summarized in 3 words: "Memory, Courage, Future"
"...Do you want to be the hope for the future or not? Two conditions that cost nothing. The first is condition is to remember. Trying to understand where I come from: the memory of my people, my family, my whole history... Second condition. If I am hope for the future and I have memory of the past, then what about the present? What must I do in the present? Have courage, be strong, don’t be afraid..."

Reflecting on the speech, it's true that to carry on in the future, we need to know our past, our history and heritage.. but not stop at this point and live in the past. Many Egyptians would say, we are the 7,000 years civilization, we are the builder of the pyramids.. but this is not enough.. the past is already gone, we live in the present and it's the present that will determine the future. If we live on the memory of the past then we will be stuck in our place. We need to have courage, not to be afraid and fight for a better future, our future and the future of our children and grand children.. Looking back on the past 5 years, we have gone through a lot in Egypt, politically, socially, economically, emotionally.. you name it.. 

At some point I had lot of hopes and waiting for the change. I was doing my best to be part of it, to be engaged in everything. I was always the person looking to the half full glass not the empty half. But gradually this has changed to being indifferent to the fights and divisions between people and just watching from far cos I know that we reap what we sow and these are the consequences of the peoples' choice.

The present may not be that optimistic, but I have faith that someday it will get better, but it will only get better if we have the courage to be part of the present. We are the hope of the future, we must act now and not wait for something to happen.







As every story comes to an end, to start a new one, the World Youth Day came to its end in Krakow, to start a new journey to Panama.
For this last night in Krakow, we met with some of our Social Media team for dinner in the city center.. On the way back, I was so tired and maybe feeling a little bit sad for leaving with the hopes to meet again someday, somewhere. It was my last walk (not counting walking under the heavy rain to the bus station and train station few hours later). Every step was becoming heavier, with tiredness, with bitterness.. Streets were empty compared to the previous days as many people already left Krakow. One last discussion until it was even tiring to think or speak or walk.. I remember my friend saying that the best thing was to see how we are part of the change of people. This includes me on a personal level as he was part of my transformation during this journey even without knowing it. We may not realize it but surely we impact the people we encounter. Like the girl I helped on that day or the discussions I had with friends or people I may never see again, or even family and friends.. I remember once my brother told me that he is proud of me and I never realized that I really could affect him in that way before that moment, cos we are brother and sister.


I truly miss the World Youth Day for all these small moments, the talks and discussions, the encounters, the connections with people. Getting to know each other, learning something new every day, a new experience, a new information, a new feeling. The feeling that you can do whatever crosses your mind, the freedom of being myself, the true me that's sometimes hidden as people see what they are used to see in their mind. I miss all the moments I could connect with myself and listen without thinking of everyday's preoccupation. It's like switching off and reconnecting.
Those precious moments will be in my heart, until we meet again.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

SDM Krakow 2016! A life changing experience!

Once again I am part of this incredible journey, the World Youth Day, this time in Krakow.
I can't describe all my feelings but definitely this time it has really changed me from inside. I feel more connected to myself. I listen to my real voice. I totally let myself be guided and open to everything.
I may have not participated in the main events like I did the two previous times but I don't regret it cos I lived something deeper.
It is hard to explain but I believe that everything happens for a reason; the people I meet, the friends I make, the things that I see. It is all connected together.
I may not have done everything I planned for but I learned to let myself just be free. It doesn't matter because every step will add a new encounter, a new experience. So maybe not what I have in mind but I am certain that it will lead to something.
I may still have doubts, I may still wait for answers but I just leave all the worries away and live the moment.

I'll try to summarize all what I have experienced in those two weeks in several posts.. It's not that easy to recount everything but I'll try to capture the essential.

A month ago, I left Cairo with lot of excitement. Excitement to meet my old friends, my team in social media since I've been working with some of them online for more than a year and meet new friends.
On the way to Krakow, we were 4 volunteers taking the same flight. We already arranged to meet before boarding the flight from Paris as we were coming from different destinations. By the time we arrived to Krakow, we were a bigger group of volunteers on the way to our accommodation. In the bus, we kept all talking and trying to figure out which will be our stop.. I remember there were several Polish old people and they were looking to us with happiness and maybe admiration. I believe they knew why we were here. The next challenge was to find our accommodation "Wisla". It was a Sunday so everything was closed, it started to rain while we were walking but we managed to arrive finally to our home for the next coming weeks. 
As soon as we entered, I felt happy. Someone playing music, others gathered and talking.. All international volunteers were grouped in two main accommodations, but for the early comers, we were all together in one big hall. It was a challenge to find an empty bed but luckily there were still some places.
It was a like a very big hostel where you can hear all languages spoken, yet I was not feeling a stranger but rather being with my family.

The main hall where I spent the first night..
after that I was sleeping on the floor of a Judo hall

The following morning, they turned the lights at 5am, don't ask me why.. some people had to leave to their other accommodations, the rest, we were waiting for our volunteers kit. 

The church

Kościół Najświętszej Maryi Panny z Lourdes

I heard that there is a morning mass at 7am in a nearby church but I was too tired to go out and by the time I was on my feet and ready people already left. I decided maybe I will try it another day. I didn't know at the time that 2 days later, i'll go every single morning to this little church at 7am to attend the morning mass. Sometimes I was late a little bit but still I went. 
This experience has transformed me. To be united in prayer with volunteers as well as with local people even if I don't understand every word (1st week mass was in Latin, 2nd week it was in Polish). I was doing my best to participate whenever there is a text I can read from and even if I don't pronounce correctly every single word. This little church next to a garden was so peaceful and yet energizing. At first I didn't believe I can get up early enough to attend the mass but I was surprised that almost during all the 2 weeks in Krakow I was even getting up earlier than I did in Egypt.
After the mass, sometimes i was staring at the nature in the garden early morning, or walking in silence and enjoying some quiet time with myself away from all the noise or talking with friends on our way back.

Staying all together in one place, made it possible to meet my old friends who were in different assignments, even just to say hi while passing or to meet on our way back home. I may have wanted to spend more time with them, but in a way or other, we are already connected.

I've worked most of the 2 weeks as first I was by myself then my friend arrived. It was very tiring at some moments but nothing compares when I see lot of messages from pilgrims sending their photos, asking questions or followers who couldn't come to Krakow and this was their way to follow live the World Youth Day.

Arabic may be small compared to other languages but what I saw was far beyond the numbers. It's how we touch people's live and make them all unite together regardless of the distances or the difficulties they are facing in their countries, giving hope and spreading joy. This what kept me going and pushing myself to do even more, knowing the impact I have on others.
This is the spirit of the World Youth Day volunteers, to serve others and through them to experience the love of God and live the World Youth Day.
Yes I may not have the possibility to attend many of the events, but sharing these moments with my team in the social media room watching what's happening on the big screen and sharing everything with the audience in social media is truly something not to miss either.
Also seeing how the impact of the social media has grown since Rio is like seeing your baby grow. You feel like you were there in every step, watching it evolving over the time.. and this made possible with the hard work of all the team who made it possible to have all this content (graphics, videos, gifs....) and managing all this together.
All the team cheered at the end of the facebook life session recordings, or when we see someone we know on the big screen, or when reaching milestones... we are all one family, praying together, caring, encouraging and cheering for each other.




The world of the Social Media Team



These 2 weeks have been the most rewarding and most incredible experience I ever had and I'm thankful for every single moment.

Nos vemos in Panama!






Friday, July 10, 2015

The inevitable change...

We are all familiar with the saying that Change is the constant thing in the world.. Everything around us is changing whether we feel it or not.
The earth changes its position, the plants go from one transformation to another depending on the season, even our mood changes from one moment to another.
However, when you feel too many changes in short time frame, you feel like going crazy!
Is it good or bad? what will happen? how it will impact everything? too many questions relative to the degree of uncertainty.

Recently I'm facing lot of changes, both external and internal. I can't describe what i feel, for some I feel annoyed, for others i feel excitement and for the rest, i can't tell my feelings.
The logic way to go face these changes is to embrace them and to think positively how to cope. But this is easy thing to say than do. Many of the changes, that we know about them ahead, are like a cloud you see from distance but you don't know its effect until you are underneath it and it showers you or give you a shade or make you feel gloomy.

The most difficult change to face is the one inside you. You can feel it growing, this sense of feeling something different that is not the normal you. Maybe feelings you forgot them, ideas that were once inside your head but disappeared in the busy world or even long forgotten dreams.
You can't control them and you remember how it was like. you wonder, will it go away like the previous times or it will evolve. You might be even excited but then you may think to resist the change inside you because it will change everything around you.

Looking back in the past 5 to 10 years, i can see how I really changed till reaching this moment. It is a journey through time with lots of ups and downs. For sure this is life and you need to evolve from one stage to another but sometimes i don't recognize myself.
I believe that the most important thing i learned is to live the moment. The past is over, the future is unknown and unpredictable. The present is what we can feel and see but if we miss it, we miss living for the present won't come  back again.

I don't know what will happen tomorrow, next month or next year. I don't know what if the past didn't happen, where i would be know. The only thing I know is that it's enough thinking too much about all that and to enjoy the present as much as possible for you might plan everything and then one unforeseen detail happens that changes everything and throw your plans away.
You can't control or predict the future but you can control your current moment by choosing what to do or not to do.
Yes change is inevitable and to go through it you have to liberate yourself from everything then you can live the transformation with all your heart and mind.
Listen to yourself, to your feelings and recognize all the signs of change for then you can deal with it. Otherwise, it will surprise you when you are least ready.

Friday, January 16, 2015

ALU got Talent,,,

Yes, indeed, Alcatel-Lucent got many talents everywhere... and talent doesn't need to be unique or brilliant in something, talent could be doing a creative piece of art with a team.
This what I've experienced in the past few weeks. We received an announcement that ALU Egypt is organizing an ALU got Talent competition and asking everyone to participate. One of our colleagues plays guitar and we were encouraging him to participate but then it ended up to be all involved and compose a song with video clip!!

It was so much fun working on the song and also it took lot of efforts.. starting from thinking of what we wanted to say in the song. we wanted to draw the attentions to some situations that we are facing during our day to day work, in a sarcastic way. For each part of the song, a scene was played and filmed and the recording of the voice was done separately on a weekend at a colleague's home.

The beauty of this piece of art is that it is the result of team work even if we are no longer all together in the same teams due to the change of organizations. Each one contributed in one way or another even to the smallest details. This shows that the real talent is not being a unique or do something extraordinary but rather to build on each other.
I personally don't have a beautiful voice for singing, although i studied piano and music for years since my childhood. However, it didn't really matter because it is all the efforts brought together that made it really a success. I still don't have a great voice but now i know that i actually can sing and record a song and not just singing in my car when there is a traffic jam and i want to have fun while driving.
So, talking about the professional life, we can say the same. You don't have to come up with all the solution alone, we can all do it together if each one contributed with a part of the solution. If we apply it to the broader level, we can achieve greater things if we just believe and support each other.

Finally, our main message at the end of the song is: "Let's forget our problems, our gathering is the great asset. What we have in ALU, we will not find it outside. Our unity is what matters the most."
This is so true, because it is the spirit within the team and the company at a whole that makes us survive.. and this is the thing i like the most at ALU!!!

I would like to thank everybody who participated in the video.. Maybe at the beginning i was not that enthusiastic, but at the end i'm glad that i helped in it.
I'm really proud of all of us!!! Well done team.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Why blogging is so hard?

Looking back at my posts in the previous years, it seems that in the past 5 years, the peak was 2012, one year after the revolution has started... but then my rate of blogging decreased once again.. 

Why is blogging is becoming so hard? Is it due to loss of interest, lack of ideas to share or just being busy?
I am so far away from beating my highest record, in my first year of blogging in 2005. I think that partially it is due to the diversity of social media. At that time, there were no much social media expansion.. there was the email, blog sites, flickr for photos and hi5 for those who remember it, long before facebook.

So having a blog was the main platform for sharing ideas, writing, shouting, talking.. but now, with the facebook, twitter, google+, linkedin just to name a few... the virtual space is so crammed with multitude ways for expressing oneself.

However, i feel that a blog is the most personal way to talk because you are not just expressing a status or feeling in a hurry or to show off, but rather you are taking some time to discuss something far beyond the usual social stuff.
It takes more effort to think of the idea, elaborate it, write it and finally hitting the publish button to see the light.

Once out there in the space, it will remain forever (unless you delete it).. you can go back and read it years later, remember those feelings and those memories.. sometimes you even forget that it ever existed!

So, i guess i came to one of my 2015 resolutions (4th in the list), reviving my blog once again and i hope this time i will succeed to keep it up alive!
It is time to go away from the fast world of facebook and return to the authentic spirit of blogging.



Saturday, July 19, 2014

A year after, JMJ Rio, trainings and sightseeing

17/07/2013: General training for all volunteers & visiting Pao Açucar


On the way to the metro station from my accommodation
Yes, that's right. We take our volunteering job so seriously. The 1st training day it was general for all volunteers to know more about the general important information like in case of emergency, the schedule of events.. There were different sessions for the different languages so me and my friends attended the English one. We were gathered in a big auditorium. We had the chance to see some of the volunteers that were communicating with us about the JMJ before travelling.



Australia, North America, Africa and Asia :)
After the session, we decided to go and have lunch. It was a new area so we were just walking till we find a small restaurant. We were just a small group, mainly most of the Arab countries (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt) as well as the only volunteer from Iran. Then other friends were also looking for a place so I tried to explain to them how to reach where we are on whatsapp and sending them our location. Actually, whatsapp was our most important way of communication since we were working with different teams and working in different areas so whenever we try to arrange for something, we just discussed over whatsapp.. of course by now most of us had a Brazilian number to ease the communication. 

After that some went off right after lunch and the rest we just went walking. We found a little church so we went inside to visit it. The priest when he knew we are voluntarios, invited us inside and asked to take a photo with us. He told us that this is the 1st church for Saint Rita outside Italy and it was very old (built in 1722). The style of the church was different than in Europe. I felt like it was bright and with much decorations. He was so kind and offered for us cold water to fill our bottles.
Group photo with the priest at Saint Rita Church















On our way up to Pao de Açucar



We had still all afternoon so we decided to go to Pao de Açucar or Sugar Loaf as called in English. It is a hill where we go up on a teleferic and you can see Rio de Janeiro and the famous Corcovado hill. We arrived just on time to watch the beautiful sunset over Rio. It was an unforgettable scene.


Panorama view of Rio de Janeiro at sunset from Pao de Açucar


18/07/2013: Communication team training & visiting Corcovado

View from the Media Center at Copacabana
This is the 1st day at the Media Center where we had the communication department training. Since all the girls with me in the accommodation are volunteers in communication, we headed up all together to the media center situated at the end of Copacabana beach. We didn't know that the metro ended 1 station earlier than the map so we had to walk a bigger distance to arrive. I didn't have much time to enjoy the walk on the beach as we were already late and we had to move fast to catch up but i managed to take few photos. 

Schedule of shifts
Arriving at the center, they gave us special tags so that we can move freely inside and outside. I was impressed by the media center. It was very crowded in the auditorium and we had to sit on the floor to attend the presentations. We had a quick tour after finishing the presentation and met the team of social media. We were divided by languages and for each language there were official accounts on facebook and twitter and our role was to manage them. for the Arabic language, we were 4, 2 from Syria and 2 from Egypt. We were luckier than others who were alone for their language so they had to work all the time.

Posing with my friends at Corcovado




After staying for a while in the media center and getting everything set for the work, i went to Corcovado. I had already reserved a ticket the day before to go by train as my friends advised me that it's very crowded and if i just show off i could wait for long time before finding an empty seat. 
It was very crowded and very difficult to take photos cos this is what everybody is doing. I tried to look for someone who seems to know about photography to take me a nice shot with the Redeemer. The place was full of volunteers, pilgrims and others with flags from all nations. Luckily, i found some of my friends up there and we took some photos together. The view from the top was amazing. I never imagined Rio to be that beautiful.

The view of Rio from Corcovado
Cristo Redentor, Corcovado
Cristo Redentor at night
















I stayed there till the night. On my way back by train, i met a French freelance photographer who was there to cover the JMJ. It's so amazing how you can meet people everywhere and you can start any conversation. It's like a one big family and it doesn't matter from where you come from or what language you can speak.