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!