TedxCairoUniversity's Agora: A Space for Inspiration

Like many, I seek inspiration and motivation through speeches and talks. TedxCairoUniversity was able to provide just enough of that vibe this time, and allowed me to go on emotional and psychological journeys for eight hours. In case you missed it, here is a summary of this year's event.

Talk #1: Lina El Fakahany

The dosage of inspiration was triggered by the first speaker, Lina El Fakahany, who spoke about the Five Languages of Love. She used a psychological approach to address the notion of love. She then explained Carl Jung's eight personality types; which highlight the extraversion vs. introversion traits. After the audience were aware of all types, she introduced the idea of the various methods, or 'languages' people use to show love. These include: gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion) and physical touch.

The twist was she had communication problems with her mother, as they used different methods of showing their love, and so, they started therapy. After a while, they both acquired enough knowledge to help them accommodate with each other's love preferences.

Talk #2: Omar Monem

As soon as he walked up the stage, a slide showing countless logos of metal bands was displayed on the screen, which got us intrigued! The first question he asked was, "is metal music bad?" Monem walked us through the misconceptions people have towards metal music. But first, he clarified that 'metal music' is an umbrella under which countless subcategories branch from. He discussed the positive sides of metal music, which included composing lyrics and melodies that tell a story, and is mostly of societal relevance; ex: Iron Maiden - Aces High.

Unfortunately, people view metal as only negative, by associating it with satan worshipers, headbanging, grounding, and dangerous stage shows.

Being a business student, he used a business model to solve the problem of the misconception people have about metal. His solution was to release an album that would prove people wrong.

He concluded his speech saying, "we cannot judge anything without understanding it. Finally, the question now is, is metal music still bad?"

Talk #3: Asir Nabil

Humans have always been thinking about ways to 'make' things. We were all born 'makers.'

He once watched Iron Man, which combined superheroes and technology. He googled "how to be iron man?" but to his surprise, he didn't understand anything! Then he started meeting 'makers' – ones who made musical instruments, robots, etc.

'Making' became a goal for him, and he passed through three phases: open source (which is collecting information, and gaining experience from talking to people), analysis paralysis (the disappointment of not knowing what to do next), and the maker mindset.

It only took courage and energy to achieve, or in other words, 'make' something. Being a maker makes Nabil happy.

He ended his speech saying, "get out there and make something."

Talk #4: Iman Refaat

How can we make teenagers excited to go to school? Refaat found an answer to that: take what they learn in class outside. She discovered that if people changed the 'meaning' of things, they would be able to perform efficiently.

According to the meaning and performance axes: when a person finds meaning in what he/she does, his/her performance increases.

Now, how do you find 'meaning'? Where do we find it? One day, her daughter asked her to sleep over at her friend's, but Refaat said no because she is a 'girl'. That was when her daughter interrupted her saying, "what does that mean?"

'Girl' for us means 'weak, incapable, and inferior.' But who said it means that?

'Girl' for us means 'weak, incapable, and inferior.' But who said it means that? 'Dream', as a word for her, used to mean 'impossible'. Since she discovered that she can give another meaning to the same word, she associated 'dream' with 'possible.' Her dream was to write a novel, and so she did!

However, she was afraid of failure. But then again, what is 'failure?'

However, she was afraid of failure. But then again, what is 'failure?' She concluded with a rhetorical question: "how many people own their meanings?"

Refaat has set meanings free, and now owns new ones.

Talk #5: Yasmine El Qersh

"What's normal for you, might not be normal for me," that's how Qersh started off her speech.

Autism was the main topic she chose to address. She mentioned prominent figures like Beethoven, Bill Gates, Lionel Messi, and said if we try to fathom what autism is, we'll be able to realize how it has helped these people succeed.

"Different is never less," said Qersh, as she talked about her brother who was diagnosed with autism.

She concluded her speech by introducing her young brother, Asser. He took the stage and played famous pieces on the piano, which were met with standing ovations.

Talk #6: Mostafa Hashisha

"Egypt is a huge market, and many foreigners want to invest money in it." We were also surprised when Hashisha mentioned that fact. His journey in Silicon Valley allowed him to appreciate the fact that Cairo is the seventh largest city for initiating start-ups.

He once decided to look at things with a different perspective. Traffic: you can either waste the time ranting on Facebook, or use the time to call up a friend and think of a solution for the traffic. This is what the founder of Bey2ollak did, and now the app has allowed 1.2 million people to avoid traffic.

Fawry, Vezeeta.com, Careem, Uber and Wuzzuf are also examples of this concept.

Hashisha did the same, and launched his start-up, iSpark, which provides students with an experience that changes their behavior and attitude to become intellectually stronger, happier, more successful, and able to choose their future careers.

Entrepreneurship makes you see the world in a different way; it allows you to create change.

"It's not about what you see, it's about how you see it."

Talk #7: Marina Rowes

Her entrance surprised us all. She used a monologue where she talked to a female doll who was sexually abused. This doll represented her younger self.

Rowes was sexually abused when she was 13. She emphasized the fact that a person's reactions are altered in accordance to the memories of the trauma.

"You [as a victim of sexual abuse] might always try to hurt yourself, either physically or emotionally. I used not to wear dresses, because I was embarrassed of my body," said Rowes.

There was a life coaching school that gave lectures about the phases of one's life. Repressed memories of hers started appearing as she joined this school. Remembering was the first stage of healing. The second stage was to break the silence; and seek help. She is now very successful, and always tries to help sexually abused individuals.

"Don't blame your inner kid with the voice of the adult you are now," said Rowes. "Get out of the cage, it's not yours."

Talk #8: Hussein Hakem

Lego and watching movies – these are Hakem's favorite hobbies. He used to watch the same movie five times to spot the technicalities. The director's vision was the thing that always caught his attention. He always wanted to work in the field of cinema.

He thought what if he would create a movie using Lego. He discovered Stop-Motion, and started using his phone camera, a tripod, two lamps, and blue charts on the walls to create Lego movies.

For him to produce one minute, he would spend two days. "It is tiring, but this is the only thing I do without feeling obligated. It is my passion," said Hakem.

"A hobby' is the only job you would be willing to spend money on."

The event was hyped up by three amazing performers: The Khafagys, Sophia Medhat and Sandra Maged.

To know more about the speakers: https://www.facebook.com/pg/TEDxCairoUni/photos/

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