Dear Readers of Med Times, this week we are back with our beloved CR Interview Series. This time, we are hosting Yasmine Elhabashi, the country representative of Egypt for this year. Read more to find out more about her journey, in this interview that is hosted by none other than our own Editor in Chief, Melis Leyal Gürel.
L: We are so happy to have you in our podcast and our article, and we would like to get to know you even more as a Rotaractor and, more importantly, as a person. So tell us about yourself, who you are, how old you are, what you do in life, your hobbies, etc.
Y: Okay, first of all, thanks for having me here. I’m so excited to do this. I’ve seen the other interviews, so I’m excited to see how this will roll out. I’m a 28-year-old computer engineer, or more precisely, a video game developer, so I play video games as a profession. When it comes to my hobbies, playing video games comes up again I must say.Also, I can say, playing music, mainly guitar, and going to the gym are my other main hobbies, even though I have drifted away from guitar a little bit. For the gym part, at first, it was more about playing sports, but then it ended up going to the gym and being healthy. So it’s more like a lifestyle/hobby because it’s a mixture of both.
L: Fantastic and very interesting, mainly that you deal with video games as a way of life. It sounds entertaining. So what would you say are your top three critical values in life?
Y: I thought a lot about this question and couldn’t find a specific answer. An essential value in my life, in general, is honesty. One must always be honest and true to themself and other people. The second value would be trying to be like a beacon of light in general, to be a helping person, and to give. This goes with being an honest person as well. Because if you’re candid and sincere, this will be able to happen. The third value would be to tread lightly, to avoid overcomplicating things. Just take things as they are and treat them in this way.
L: So, let’s talk about a bit of your Rotarian journey. How did you get to know Rotaract and what kind of positions did you hold before? Please elaborate a little bit about that for us.
Y: How I started with Rotaract is a funny story. My friend, the General Secretary of the Med, joined Rotaract before me. We were close friends. And she was going to attend an event and meeting. I thought that she was wasting her time and that those people didn’t do anything, however she was enjoying it quite a bit. But the following year, she was going to run for club president. Hence, I tried to attend more to support her, but that was it for me. Surprisingly, though, I turned out to be a 100% attendance guest. I became extremely passionate about it. I was very wrong to assume that this entity was not doing things, and there was the stereotype maybe in our country that they only have fun.
So, when I became a part of this club and part of this family, I realised, okay, there’s a lot of things that they do that are much more than what the media shows. So, I got attached to the idea of service and self-development. And that’s what led to where I am, how I became President of the club. So, to summarise my journey after being a member, I worked for the rest of the year as our professional development director. The year afterwards, I was nominated as a vice president. After that, I became the club president and then it was the year of COVID. And there was so much that I couldn’t do due to the restrictions of COVID. So I became a president for a second time and it was an enormous challenge. And I hope I did the best I could for the club then. Currently, I am the Country Representative. So, when I finished my Presidency, I wanted to be a part of the Med and see how I can collaborate with you. And funny enough,a few months after I wished for such a collaboration , the DRR of our district and our country (because we are one district country) asked me to be the CR for this year. Naturally, I have joyfully accepted this position and that brought me here.
L: It’s a very inspiring story. We hear a lot of prejudiced arguments from people who don’t know Rotaract and don’t familiarise themselves with the realm of Rotaract. After you get to know Rotaract and get involved, your love becomes genuinely inspiring for some people. So, thank you for that. And thank you for all of your services throughout Rotaract.I also want to ask you about your suggestions to ensure better connections between clubs in Egypt, the clubs in your district, and, of course, more worldwide associations in general.
Y: Our district is the same as the country, so the first part of the question will apply if we have the same answer. I think the best way to enhance the connections between clubs in Egypt or Districts like 2451 is to unify our goals if we, as several clubs, say, “this is what our community needs”. If we’re talking about the community service part, if we have three or four big goals that we need to achieve within one to three years, and we all work together on joint projects to achieve these goals, it is going to be much better, and it will serve as a club service and fellowship. By that, we can enhance the connection between each other, and we will have a unified goal. So, my suggestion for clubs in Egypt would be to try to work together more towards decided and unified goals rather than having small efforts from all around the country.
And for Egypt and other countries, I would recommend trying to get to know the people from other countries, whose work isn’t yet so familiar for us, those we don’t always hear about.
So why not try to expand our horizons and see a different variety that the Med offers? Because the Med is not just you, the Med is just not our country’s demands. It is just not that, so there is a wide variety that can be utilised if we try to set up pieces of training and try to set up joint projects, even if it’s just meeting up virtually and getting to know other people’s cultures. So yeah, that would be my suggestion or advice for folks to get to know other clubs from other countries.
L: The Med is Europe, a bit of Asia, and a little bit of North Africa. It is a significant geographical area, and I think this idea is fundamental. What makes the Rotaract special to you? What would you say?
Y: For me, Rotaractors are unique because Rotaract is like a piece of something you can sculpt to whatever you want. Whatever you want to achieve personally, you can achieve it through Rotaract. If you ask people why they join, some people will tell you that they hoped to make connections or to have fun. Others will tell you that they wanted to give back to their community. Others would tell you that they wanted to travel and see the world. So I realised I could become whatever I wanted to grow into. It’s a potent tool, a very powerful organisation that you can mould into whatever you want to do, and it will serve you very well.
L: Rotaract has a vast scope, and I think we should work towards utilising what Rotaract is giving us. I completely agree with you. So this year, of course, you are the CR for Egypt, and I would like to ask you: What would you like your legacy to be as a CR for Egypt this year?
Y: Well, I’m not sure because legacy is a broad term, of course. But I would hope that I will set the tone of the position for the incoming Country Representative. Maybe encourage more clubs by the end of the year. If we look at statistics, we will find more club interactions from clubs in Egypt and other countries. And as I said, to highlight the Country Reprresentative’s position, to have people interact with this position. Some people think, why should I contact the Country Representative? What’s the point? So I hope that by the end of this, people will fully understand what this position does and offers to them and start utilising and making use of it. And that would be the promotion of fellowship among Rotaractors. Hopefully, that would be the legacy, if we can call it so.
L: Yes, of course. Absolutely. Because sometimes, we tend to forget that Rotaract is not about the hierarchy, but it’s actually about the connections. And I think the way you want to promote this message is critical. And I think this will serve as an inspiration to both other CRs and also DRRs in many countries. So I applaud you for that. And I have one last question. Of course, Egypt will be the host country of the M2R next year. So I would like to ask you what you and the HOC are planning and how you’re involved in the process.
Y: For the M2R, we’re planning a lot of surprises, but I can let you know for now that it will be a memorable conference. It’s a Red Sea country. It has lovely scenery and very nice nightlife. The Pre is going to be in Cairo. Of course, you can’t visit Egypt without passing by the pyramids, so that’s a definite thing to do. And we would like to end the conference with the M2R in Upper Egypt, which looks at the city mostly filled with Egyptian heritage and the pharaohs and beautiful scenery. So it’s a mixture of everything, some of the culture, some of the heritage, some of the modern life. And that’s what Egypt is genuinely about. It takes from the past and merges it into the future work of the present. How am I involved? So, for now, and of course, I am involved as the Country Rep, but when M2R starts, I’m not going to be CR. So as we agreed, I will be working with the HOC team on the registration until the end of the year. And afterwards, I will be an honorary and advisory member of the HOC team and help whenever needed if anything needs to be set up.
L: I think it is incredible that you are willing to help the HOC team even after you are the CR, and I am sure that we will have a great time in Egypt in the M2R. We will get many chances to discover Egypt’s beautiful history. And I would like to thank you for joining us today. I think this was an enjoyable interview, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your work and your involvement in Med events. And, of course, the work of the hoc for the M2R also. So thank you very much. And we will see you in other interviews and other activities that we are planning.
Y: Thank you Leyal, for having me. Looking forward to reading more of your articles and meeting the team at future events!
by Sarp Oktay,Eslem Dridi