Dina SAMY. 'A sailor in the sea of life, knowledge is my lifejacket, insistence is my paddle, and ambition is my net. I enjoy tasting the first caught fish, and have earned high scores during my university studies in Kuwait, where my parents work at a shipping port. After graduation, I began working at the Maaan Foundation as Marketing and Public Relations Specialist advocating on behalf of disadvantaged youth. There, I worked on leadership development for second generation advocates and activists in the Public Relations field. Recently I’ve discovered a passion for entrepreneurship and plan to use my expertise to enhance women’s enlightenment. I joined CILAS to explore further how to create a socially conscious business that propels and supports women in their trajectory towards liberation.'
Hussein TAREK. 'I am a recent graduate of the Faculty of Arts in the Department of English at Cairo University. During college, I was interested in reciting poems, acting in plays and short movies, writing and translating poetry, articles, and short stories published in print and in online magazines, and writing a personal blog. I also sang with The Choir Project, a week-long workshop of communal improvisation, lyric-writing, and composition culminating in a short performance in 2012. In 2013, I joined Kadeh, an Islamic Leftist group that held lectures and debates about economic democracy and political Islam. Now, I have a growing interest in philosophy and psychology; this transition from the fine arts to deep socio-political issues is what brought me to CILAS. As my core interests in life and work lead me in a new direction, CILAS is a place where I can discover more about myself and the world.'
Jonah STONE. 'I am Sudanese by nationality, born in 1987 in South Kordofan State, Nuba mountain region, Hieban County, in the Locholo area. I was a student at Kauda High School from 2008- 2009, and Juba Union High School in 2010. Because of the war that broke out during 2011 in South Kordofan State, I wasn’t able to enroll at university. Policies applied by the Sudanese government made it nearly impossible for me to access university; by denying my right to participate, I was excluded and made a tool of the state in every aspect. I was accused of being or supporting the rebels, and was confined within the country before the triumph of my departure. When I entered CILAS for the first time I smelled the aroma of knowledge whispering in my ears. I joined CILAS to discover the innermost thoughts and ideas that my heart has been searching for since childhood. Growing up I was considered the zero class, but because of CILAS I may one day engage with profound ideas and, if we still exist in this world, may one day even challenge them. I gain understanding at CILAS from the diverse student community made up of different levels of experience and knowledge, all learning actively through imagination, normalizing the idea of a community where each person contributes his or her own perspective and point of view. CILAS has inspired me with big ideas. I used to think of these ideas as remote and extraordinary, but through CILAS the connection between these ideas and the world seems to be coming closer. At CILAS, the drivers and articulators of learning possess the expert capability of existing within the complex conjunction of fragility and concreteness. With them I am confidently serving my community by offering myself as a teacher.'
Nariman MOUSTAFA. 'When not grappling with questions about life and a higher sense of being or looking for new adventures, I help build a global network of leading social entrepreneurs and young changemakers. I am a Change Manager at Ashoka Arab World organization. I have pursued my passion for the social service sector since high school despite the absence of a formal educational path for this work in the Egyptian university system. In 2011 I earned a Bachelor of Dental Sciences, but behind the scenes I continued to do community development work. During university, I co-founded and led the Ain Shams University chapter for the international organization Enactus, formerly known as SIFE, to respond positively to local community challenges with a free enterprise, self-organizing mindset. Witnessing first-hand, bottom-top change happening on a mass scale during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, I felt the urgent need to permanently shift career paths and devote my full self to enacting social change in Egypt. I have worked across different fields like income generation, youth empowerment, education and inter-cultural dialogue. CILAS is a step in my journey of self-discovery and development of a mindset that enables me to meaningfully contribute to the change needed in my community. I am passionate about education and diversity issues – an area where I aspire to leave my own footprint. CILAS offers me a diverse community of students and teaching fellow peers to engage with in critical thinking and a discussion-based framework of learning where I feel like an active participant in the co-creation of knowledge. I am nourished by societies and individuals that embody values of empathy, team work, collaboration and devotion. When not at CILAS or at work, you can find me engaging with Egypt's art scene especially the independent theater movement where I direct plays!'
Nazih HALLOUDA. 'I am a basketball player, knowledge seeker and future permaculturist. Basketball has taught me to work within a team and contribute to a collective effort. Off the court, my teammates and I have discovered different parts of Egypt and played cards long into the night. Bike rides through a vibrant, chaotic yet polluted Cairo on the way to study statistics at Cairo University have left me searching for alternative experiences that enable me to learn, thrive, and contribute meaningfully to this this city. I joined CILAS to access new ideas and participate in a flow of discussion that touches upon my most pressing concerns. In a time where the air, water, and food are contaminated, we must step back and reflect on our way of coexisting with the world around us. In 2014, I completed a permaculture design course in Laos. The healthy and holistic approach to life expressed through the permaculture movement has planted in me the seeds of a new career path.'
Olfat SAKR. 'In my second year of college I realized that a degree in Computer and Information Sciences was not for me; I graduated anyway and after several years of working a boring desk job, I decided to explore where my interests actually lie. I am passionate about building bridges between people from different cultures and faiths. I completed the World Youth Alliance’s training and became a certified member. To facilitate cross-cultural dialogue for their Connect Program I attended Soliya facilitation trainings. In addition, I volunteer online with an educational interfaith organization based in the US called MyJihad Campaign. Moreover, in order to inspire women to lead healthier lifestyles, I took a Group Fitness Instructor course. Last summer, after handing in my resignation from work in order to pursue my interests and possibly apply for a Master’s degree, I stumbled upon CILAS and found it the perfect fit for my transitional phase. At CILAS, I seek knowledge, learn more about myself, and learn more about how the world works. I also hope that I am helping others on their journey as well. It is the perfect place for self-reflection, challenging myself, and meeting people from different backgrounds.'
Sohila MOHAMED. 'The personal is political. Born in 1992 I was raised in Egypt where girls' and women’s rights have been gradually taken away; this is where my character and interests have been formulated. Freshly after graduating from five years of medical study in the faculty of clinical pharmacy, I decided to shift careers. I have been interested in feminism related issues since I was 11 years old and am a believer that concrete life choices are best made after exploring many options. To this end, I was selected as a Lazord Fellow at the John Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at the AUC; I spent a year writing Harmonia Novel, a project dear to my heart, that received the Sawiris Cultural Award. Currently I work at the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW). CILAS is a place where I find myself. Participating in animated discussions among the diverse voices at CILAS makes me understand better how healthy, vibrant communities operate and their power in making the world a less miserable place. Words of wisdom that I live by say that the real change that you can spark in this world is finding your passion—the thing that's burning inside of you—and consistently following it, instead of pursuing the change that is only immediate.'