Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TEDxRamallah in Gaza; reflections and recommendations

I went home on April 16th knowing that I had just spent my favorite day in Gaza ever since my return to it last year. For more than 10 hours, I was part of a volunteer organizers team that ran the livestream of the TEDxRamallah event in Gaza.

The garden of the Qattan Children Center in Gaza City, where the TEDxRamallah live stream was taking place, is shared with a nearby small building. I was standing in the garden before the event was launched when I saw a young 10-12 year old boy pushing his backpack from under the gate to the garden (which would lead him into the smaller building). Once the backpack made it inside, he adeptly climbed the metal door, jumped into the garden, picked up his backpack and boldly walked towards the building. I couldn’t help but smile at him, and when I saw that he smiled back, I was so amused and curious that I walked towards him and asked him what he had just done. He confidently looked at me and said, “the door was closed, so I climbed over it.” I then asked him what that building was, and he told me that it’s the “Isa’ad al-Tufula” (Child Happiness) building.

That boy made my day and filled it with motivation. Even if for any reason I never got to attend the live stream, the brief encounter with the boy filled me with a lot of hope. There he was, a young, self-assured boy, who simply would not let any obstacle stand between him and happiness. Fortunately, I got to both attend and help organize the livestream. The little boy had set the atmosphere to my thinking and my feelings, and throughout the beautifully-inspiring event, his story was on automatic replay in my head. The story kept reminding me that the boy and the TED speakers alike allowed no obstacles to stand between them and their goals, and that neither will I. 

Below you will find my favorite TEDxRamallah talks (at least among the ones that have been uploaded) with a few sentences justifying why I recommend them :)

Munir Fasheh, "Occupation of Knowledge" (the talk is in Arabic, but you can click on "CC" for English subtitles). This was my most favorite talk. Munir talks about the occupation of knowledge and about ways to challenge it. Learn to pay close attention to lessons learned from life. For Munir, these lessons, including lessons from his mother and from the Palestinian Chicken,  are far more practical and credible than a PhD in Mathematics from Harvard.

Khaled Sabawi, a Palestinian-Canadian engineer, is the first Geothermal engineer in the Middle East.  Here, he talks about the "Green State Solution", and discusses "Keeping Palestine Cool: a Different Kind of Underground" Highly recommended.

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