By Zeinab Gad
The amount of energy and excitement felt by any attendee at the TedxCairo was tremendous. With the people’s laughter whilst taking pictures and selfies, the loud volume of people introducing themselves to others and the way speakers engaged with the audience, the event managed to be remarkable.
TedxCairo’s annual conference is definitely the event you need to have on your calendar. It’s mission is to spread useful ideas through talks from different speakers all on one main theme. The mission statement might seem simple, but it’s a very powerful one. They believe that ideas can change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.
This year’s event took place at the American University in Cairo’s (AUC) Bassilly Auditorium. The event’s theme was Continuum, an invitation to pause, take a journey through time, to rediscover, reformulate and reinvent and decide where to go from there.
The participated speaker differed from several majors, from engineering, art, photography and architecture. Nevertheless, all of them talked about the same theme which is about finding what anyone wants deeply inside of him/herself.
International photographer Ahmed Haymen and solo biker Galal Zekri-Chatilla were some of the famous celebrities giving talks during the event.
The session started strong with a talk by Dr Tarek Shawky, Dean of the School of Science and Engineering at AUC.
Dr Shawky talked about the 13 years of his life as a professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at the University of Illinois and how he ran out of goals. He then decided to change his field of study to ICT (Information and Communications Technology), to afterwards become the Dean of school of Science and Engineering at the AUC.
“The journey of searching and learning should never end, and certificates are only small milestones,” Shawky said. He described how he’s still learning and discovering the world, searching for passion and way to impact and new goals to achieve.
While he talked about his passion, he pictured himself as a young boy saying that, despite his age, he is still that boy inside who is still wondering about the world.
Also Laura Boushnak and her strong women from her documentary’s project “I read I write” were captivating. Laura, a previous TED speaker, is a photographer who takes pictures of women who joined the “Erasing illiteracy project” in and let them comment on their own picture.
Walking the same path was Liza van der Linde, a Dutch Educational Trainer and Consultant. Van der Linde’s talk was by far the funniest and gave everyone something to think about, from how we treat our mother tongue, to how we raise our children to be critical thinkers, to want to do the right thing. She dreams that all Egyptian children would love Arabic as much as she does.
Another talk about photos was by Ahmed Hayman, an Egyptian photographer and founder of Masrayeen “Egyptians” fan page, a page that portraits the streets of Egypt. He started his talk with a video of the 18 days of Tahrir Square with the national anthem playing in the background. He talked about his project, the Egyptian version of Humans of New York, and the simple dreams of the Egyptians he took pictures of.
Islam Hussein, a Virologist and Online Education Enthusiast,got a standing ovation by the end of his speech and was the favourite speaker of the day by many of the attendees. Hussein talked about how he ‘fell in love’ with viruses and became a virologist. His talk was smart, funny and tackled a lot of issues, from the science of viruses and how they shaped history, how the Tudor Queen Elizabeth I of England wore thick white makeup to cover scars left by smallpox, to how wars kill people sometimes more than viruses do and his journey to the man he is today.
The event had three performances, all of them were spectacular, one of them was El-Nafeekha (“The blowers”), which thrilled everyone when they played music from 90s TV shows.
The feedback on the speakers was very positive. However there were some few negative feedbacks shared on the group.
Some commented on the fact that the event is all hosted in English except for the speakerstalks, and when foreigners asked for translation, they were told this was “unavailable”.
“My argument here is to host the event in Arabic. Write in Arabic, and own this beautiful language: it’s your language. The segregation of language use is quite absurd to me. Embrace the language,” said Jolene Sweiter, one of the attendees. “Yet make sure the translation is available.”
The social media was on fire with #TedxCairo hashtag trending on Twitter and live streaming of the event and coverage on Facebook and the energy was great with many broadcasting the details of the event live.