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Archive for March, 2011

Discovering the World anew

”Think big, start small, scale fast” was Tobias’ Lau’s mantra on innovation that he shared with us, when we went to visit him at Social Action the day before starting our own process of innovation here at Krogerup Højskole.

Innovation is the process of thinking outside the box and creating something anew. Something that to some might seem like an insurmountable task, while to others is the rare permission to let thoughts wander and pursue the ideas that are usually pushed aside in everyday life.

Belonging to the first of these two groupings of people, the thought of a two days innovation camp seemed rather intangible, and I felt in much doubt whether it was possible make any positive contribution in a room with many seemingly so creative and innovative spirits. I was interested in the process of innovation, but felt safer starting out with the theoretical underpinnings, rather than with the practical learning-by-doing approach. As we got started, I soon realised that I intuitively shot down any budding idea by lacking faith in the potential of actual realisation.

Well, much was to change, and looking back at the process now, I realise that no book, however thick and thorough, would have given me the understanding and actual belief in the process of innovation that I got during the course of those two days.

“Never say no to an idea”, “never criticise” and to “encourage wild ideas” are some of the central pieces of advice, when wanting to innovate. As, are phrases such as “no boundaries” and “constructive chaos” and the choice to have no leader and no experts, and instead encouraging a multidisciplinary spirit of teamwork. I quickly became clear to me that for all my realism, there were others to make up for it with limitless faith in the potential of grand ideas. I tried to shot off my usual pragmatism and to begin grasping the ephemeral that float through one’s mind in pondering moments.

Although you by no means transform yourself into an innovative spirit during the course of two days, it was without doubt a journey that was begun, and which I will do my best to continue, having left Krogerup. It does not need to be big, it by no means need to be realised, but to think the thought, to nourish it and let it develop, is definitely something that can be practised back in the everyday routine. I will do my best to let the journey and the learning continue, and who knows, where it might one day take you.

Change is in the air

This year is considered a year of graduation, a year of sits in, a year of clashes, a year of changes. This virus “change” has invaded and conquered all Arab countries resulting from many symptoms as poverty, unemployment and social, economical and political injustice. The first spark started in Tunis when a man burnt himself to protest against the oppression that his country suffer and many clashes were erupted between the government and people calling for reforms and his death is like a good fortune for Tunisian when Zein El Abdeen Bin Ali left the state with many polices left behind to be reformed. The virus transferred to Egypt, which was also good not the other way around. All Egyptians gathered in Al-Tahrir Square asking Husni Mubarak to step down because his era shall end and the coming era shall be the years of youth, prosperous life full of achievements, progress and development for the sake of Egypt and they did it and some demands were fulfilled, the utmost is Husni Mubarak’s stepping down. The revolution wave broke out also in Syria, Yemen, Qatar, Libya and Jordan. I will stand in Jordan and clarify some allegations that have been aroused against Jordan. Jordan is safe and stable country led by king Abdullah II who exerts extensive effort to ensuring sustainable levels of economic growth and social development aimed at improving the standard of living of all Jordanians. No doubt that people in every country suffer from poverty, unemployment and injustice because the justice is incomplete and only God is just but some parties in Jordan want to imitate what is happening in the neighboring countries and want to apply it in Jordan. In addition, as we ask for rights we have some duties by supporting the King and unite in one party.

 Ultimately, revolution wave is like two faces for the same coin, if the revolution is for our sake so it’s good and if its not will definitely creates conflicts and will be a curse not a grace.


Take a break!

The 50 minutes it takes for me to work home from work are some of the best minutes of my day; here I have time to take a break and just let my thoughts fly wherever they want to go. Despite the heave traffic accompanying me all the way along Al-Madeenah Al-Munawwarah Road, these 50 minutes are where I switch my brain off along with any internet or mobile phone connection. In spite of their liberty, my thoughts – perhaps inspired by the surrounding traffic – return and revolve around two questions; why is there no public transportation system in Amman, and why do human beings build cities that are designed for cars only? I mean, in a country where it seems every citizen (in West Amman) can afford his or her own car, how come there are no money for building a public transportation system? How come the King, concerned for his subjects, never thought of creating one, or rather, how come the citizens never demanded one from their leaders?

They say the in future cars will be running on electricity, water, bio fuels, you name it. Is this really the best we can get? Is the car really the best means of transportation the human brain can deliver – so brilliant that we keep on copying the form and only replace the content? Is the car the climax of human development? Walking along the roads in Amman I hope not. I sincerely hope that my or the future generation can invent a better solution; a solution where the human being is included. Where the city is a place of being, not escaping from. To get there, we have to rethink our entire way of living. We need to reconsider our society and the way we produce, use and reuse our environment, our natural resources, our fellow human beings. This is not only a task for engineers and chemists, but urban planners, doctors, journalists, business managers and teachers have to come along and contribute to the building of society.

It’s a long way. Until we get there I will encourage everyone to leave the car once in a while and walk home; take a break and let your thoughts fly!

Thank you

Dear Partners,

It is with great pleasure that we present to you our sincere appreciation for the International Youth Climate Ambassadors training at Krogerup Højskole in Humlebæk, Denmark. The event proved to be an enriching experience, as it left all the distinguished guests, attendees and participants with plenty of inspiring new visions to reflect upon.

This event is the stream line of continuity of our development, wellbeing and continuous success. We look forward to keep our partnership and collaboration to continue to grow and develop in lined with the values we share. This celebration is a landmark that marks a mile stone in WESC’s journey that forms our platform from which to spring forward into further cooperation.

Our presence amongst you has given us both pleasure and pride, for we have genuinely valued the interaction with you. We wish you great success on all your future endeavors.

Sincerely Yours,

Samah Abaza
Sara El Sayed
Hazem Saleh

One more WWD/Egypt

one more water world day in Egypt to celebrate, the same amount of water Egypt is getting every year, and the population is getting bigger and bigger every day, with more challenges added to the Nile, dams are planed to be built the need of water is becoming higher for the Nile over viewing African countries, (more…)

A new “Green” revolution, time to seize the day

Revolution is in the air in Egypt these days and many organizations see this time as an opportunity to gain influence in the decision making process. New parties are registering and trade unions and small NGOs are gathering strength.

There is a feeling of “everything but Mubarak” is the right way to move and that gives climate NGOs a whole new platform to work on.

Now is the time for relatively small groups of climate activist to unite and seize the day to change the future climate policies in Egypt. The conditions are just right. (more…)

what do you need to build???

Once my father said: where ever you go try to build a house, I was very little when I asked: from where I’ll got the money?? He said: you will find the way. Many questions were in my mind. Every time I remember that conversation: why he asked me to build a house, we already have one? What does building a house need? A small house or a big one? What about the location? What about the safety? Why do I need more than one house? ….etc.

I didn’t realize what did he meant only when I built the first one, I discovered the engineer inside me, and how it’s easy to build by using the basic humanity tools not the cement, nor the iron. I learned how to make a strong base by being honest and respectful, how to raise the walls by being more caring and helpful, how to decorate by spread love and joy, who to make it safe by building trust and sharing responsibilities, how to make it wide and comfortable by being simple and easygoing, how to make it staple and permanent by being understanding, wise, and faithful, and how to make it better place by being generous and open-handed.

From the experience I got, I can tell how much it’s easy to build a house in people’s heart than any land. The only coast you have to pay is love, you don’t have to care if the land is suitable for building or not, you don’t need a permission to build.

Now after I came back from Denmark, I was thinking how many houses I built there, and if I succeeded in this mission?

To those people who changed my life, who build palaces inside my heart not only houses , I am very grateful that I met you all. The days I spent with you taught me how a group of people can change the world by their persistence and determination.

I want to tell all of you lovely people regardless how many houses I built, you all have palaces in my heart–very safe, very comfortable, and very stable.

What I am sure of, even if we don’t see each other in the near future , these houses that we built together will still stand to have its owner waiting impatiently.

Looking forward

Suddenly everything is so quiet. The songs, the sounds, the cheers from last night still echo in my ears. The smiles and the laughter of a group of people, who in the course of ten days got to know each other and build strong bonds of friendship and community – I see all of your faces and I smile to myself. I am overwhelmed by your passion, your energy and enthusiasm – you are truly a great source of inspiration.

And now the majority of the people left, but your voices still echo in the corridors; it does not end here! This is only the beginning; from here we will carry out the promises we gave each other, and I cannot wait to get started! I am looking so much forward to see you at training course in Jordan, innovation cup in Egypt and campaigning our way from Denmark over Jordan to Egypt.

Dear friends, thank you for spending ten days of your life at Krogerup Højskole. Together we can move any mountain!

The Girl in the Black Scarf

The girl in the black scarf is how the Danish young journalist described me in one of the Danish local papers as he wrote about the revolution panel. Yay! I’m in the paper, I’m famous for ‘the girl in the black scarf’ .. Incredibly poetic !

The scarf/veil is very uncommon in Denmark and the West in general. We live in a world where women are taught from early childhood that their worth is proportional to their attractiveness, growing up with an internal struggle, feeling the need to fight so hard to meet the male standards of sexiness and pleasant appearance.  It all comes down to men at the end of the day. Hmmm… that’s kinda uncool don’t you think ?

Anyway, Hijab Arabic for Veil, a highly misunderstood topic in the western societies, constantly criticized and falsely interpreted to be condescending and degrading to muslim women. It’s considered as a token of backwardness and oppression and is probably taken to symbolize forced silence.

Hmmm …

Is that truly the case? Am I oppressed? Does my scarf imprison me? Does it make me powerless and helpless? Does covering my hair hinders my mental capacities and limits my role in the society? Does it mean I’m ugly? Does it mean I’m not sexy? Does it mean I don’t care for beauty? And most importantly does it mean that I’m a SAINT?

I’ve been asked repeatedly over the past two weeks about my scarf, and gladly had some pretty cute fruitful conversations with almost everyone about it. I’m not surprised at all that they find it weird and are curious to learn about the reasons behind why I put it on, how I put it on, when did I put it on, and whether it’s a choice or not.

I’m not writing this to preach or take the lead on any religious subject … not to moralize or defend anything, not to patronize or offend anyone … this is an honest try out to provide easy & simple answers to the above questions that had been tossed on my table during the past weeks. This is to all my dear friends who are curious about my Islamic attire and got stuck with all the misconceptions as opposed to the truthful facts.

But before I proceed, I would like to note the following:

1. The Islamic religion respects the freedom of choice, though the choice may not always be the right one.
2. Muslims [men and women] are not saints, they are human and humans make mistakes, even grave mistakes, and God in his infinite wisdom recognizes that and opens the door of forgiveness to all.
3. Each religion represents a comprehensive and interrelated moral system based on a number of do’es and don’ts that are peculiar to it but do not mean to offend the believers of other religions.

Having said that, I can now write a few thoughts regarding -my popular black scarf- in response to some of the questions I recall.

Do you still care about your looks? Cause you know, It’s not like we can see you!

Haha, Yes Of course I do ..
Girls will always be girls when it comes to beauty and sexuality, so yeah even though I’m covered, that never killed my femininity, my love for fashion, makeup, beauty, etc… No, my scarf doesn’t stop me from caring for my hair style, No, it doesn’t stop me from caring for my figure and physical appeal, I still want to look beautiful of course – however beauty will only capture your attention, but personality will capture your heart.

Do you feel inhibited, oppressed or silenced?

Ohh- I can never be silenced. I’m all for adventures and all for speaking out. If I have something to say you can’t stop me, for I follow Bonjovi as he once sang – I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd .. You’re gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud – Yeah .. God Bless Bonjovi !

On a more serious note; My scarf doesn’t limit my contribution to the society, It doesn’t stop or limit my democratic role, we just toppled our president. Haven’t you heard about that?

And No It doesn’t imprison me and certainly it doesn’t hinder my mental capacities. I have a bachelor degree in pharmaceutical sciences and on my way to a Masters degree in Environmental sciences and development, so I’m guessing my brain cells are working just fine.

What’s the point ? Why do you have it on?

If you’re looking for the Islamic definition; Hijab is the dress that covers whatever might arouse instincts. It is what would keep a woman safe, not only in her own society but wherever she goes.

It is a liberating force. It liberates you from the shackles of self glorification and self beautification and takes you out into a world where women are respected for who they are and what they make of themselves. The point of wearing it is to protect women from being viewed as a sex symbol, but to look at for her mind and intelligence.

“Hijab is simply a woman’s assertion that her physical persona plays no role, whatsoever in her social interactions.” says Jawad Jafry, a canadian film maker who has made a documentary on this subject.

Does it make me Inferior/ old fashioned?

Not at all, Contrary to popular belief in the West, the Islamic religion highly ranks women describing them as fragile delicate “glass vessels”, strictly asking men to take good care of them, to be considerate, merciful and fair in their words and actions towards women.

Despite these points, Hijab is not old fashioned as some might claim. On the contrary, a veiled girl needs to be careful of her appearance. She needs not only to be neat, but very well dressed too. You have to understand that the scarf is not meant to deny a woman her beauty, it’s not meant to alienate her, not meant to make her ugly or miserable but rather allow her to be whom she is inside and immune from being portrayed as a sex symbol and lusted after.

How many scarves do you have?
Alot – you know I wear it everyday !

How much time does it take to put it on?
2 minutes
5 minutes maybe if I’m off to somewhere fancy or something and putting extra care in how it looks.

When did you put it on?
I was 18 – Young, single and ready to mingle !

Lastly, I say that for the Hijab wearers including myself, the path hasn’t always been an easy one, so it’s important to understand that Hijab as a dress in no way prevents a woman from playing her role as an important individual in her society nor does it make her inferior, and if a woman chooses not to wear it then that’s her choice but she is not to fight against it or look down on the ones who believe in it and vice versa.

At the end of the day, We have to understand that humans are meant to be different, yet they live in a small village called the “Universe”… Everyone of us perceives the world from a different angle and believes that his/her way is the best way to live, but sometimes we need to just catch a glimpse from other angles and give ourselves a chance to remove all suspicions from our hearts towards one another and try to understand and be lenient with our small differences to peacefully coexist.

At the end, I thank the danish journalist who called me the girl in the black scarf for black has always been my favorite.
Anything in black is a beauty.


celebrating the revolution at Krogerup

The Middle East is source of bad news, or for so long it has been. But nowadays after the removal of rotten dictarships who ruled both Tunisia and Egypt, we can share good news, hopes, youthful energy, with our Danish colleagues and friends. We did that soem days ago at the Krogerup school, a traditional in Denmark.
The school hosting Crossing Borders NGO invited tens of Danes and Arabs living in Denmark to share the moment as about 20 youth environmental activists met their Danish colleagues for Climate Change seminar.
During the evening one could feel the vibrant feelings that filled the place when the panel, youth from egypt and Jordan started to draw the picture before the audience. Stories, dreams, hopes, vision and analysis of what is going on in the region were shared and cherished.
Then videos, songs and photos of the revolution were shared during the festive evening. I felt I wanted many of my friends and beloved to be with me then and share the moment. Long over due.


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