Help, Mummy, I’m terrified

Pic 2

Recently, I was offered to opportunity to travel to Egypt as a cultural ambassador to promote student exchange between Indian and Egyptian students. As much as travel excites me, the spirit of this adventure was dampened by a host of people asking me why I can’t choose another country  besides Egypt, whether it was the right time to go, whether I would face too much trouble getting there.

Pic 1Egypt has always held a great fascination for me and like all children growing up I pictured a land filled with men in their regal headgear, speaking a strange beautiful tongue with mummies lying around every nook and corner. The country also has such a unique geo-political situation- part of the African continent with primarily Arabic roots and culture while going through phases of democratic and military rule.

Recent events have seen the media portray Egypt as a land of youth revolutionaries and extremist leaders. So it comes as no surprise that young people are apprehensive about making a journey to the country and that’s fair. I too, had to tackle protective parents and sceptical friends as well and I just want to give you a first-hand account of what it’s like here.

Pic 4The capital, Cairo is a great place to live and experience for any young person! As an Indian, there are many similarities here that will remind you of home. The people here are warm and hospitable, eager to guess which country you are from and always grinning when they guess right (It seems the Indian accent is a cult favourite here ;)). You can always catch a glimpse of the glorious Nile, no matter which part of the city you are at. The tourist favourites- the pyramids, mummies and the sphinx live up to all the hype they are given. The architecture is exciting, the culture vibrant and the atmosphere lively! Alexandria is yet another beautiful city located by the Mediterranean Sea that will captivate you. From kind, hospitable people to the city’s Greco-Roman remains, it is breathtakingly beautiful.

There are many misconceptions about Egypt. It is a land shrouded in mystery and the news out there spells doom, violent protests and unstable political conditions. All that is far from the truth and if you can trust the testimony of a 22 year old girl travelling there alone, then be assured, it is perfectly safe.

Things you should know:

  • Girls will not be stared at lecherously all the time. Honestly, it’s so much lesser than what is on our own streets.
  • Egypt has misconceptions about India. Maybe so, but they LOVE India and adore Amitabh Bachchan. I guarantee you; you will have a conversation about Indian cinema at least twice in your time there.
  • Everybody there is not a protestor or a revolutionary or an extremist. That ended a year ago and there is no clear and present danger.
  • The country is affordable and reasonable. The value of the Egyptian pound although more than the rupee, can buy you commodities for the same value as in India.

If you have 6 weeks to go for an international internship and are apprehensive about picking Egypt, don’t be. I have had an amazing experience there and it is worth the journey- to witness ancient civilizations and modern day marvels in one bustling metropolis. I am back with fond memories, great friends and a second home to go back to someday soon.

Conversations with Dr. Aditya Dev Sood on Leadership & Innovation

leadership At a recent conference that AIESEC India hosted, we had the pleasure to meet Mr. Aditya Dev Sood – Chairman of Adainta School for Leadership & Innovation. Here’s a conversation we had with him.

Question: What is your company all about?

“Adianta School for Leadership & Innovation is a new institution that promotes a radical new approach to education. Project based, hands on, through industry partnerships, learning by doing through simulations and not in classrooms & lecture halls. Our thinking is that this kind of approach is really required in the Indian context where people are in college but not necessarily learning.”

Question: How Relevant is the organization to India today?

“We see there’s a huge gulf between the needs of industry and the way our higher education is working. And we hear this from the HR departments of large industries all the time that they end up hiring smart people who have zero experience, zero skills, zero capacity and they have to do a tremendous amount of training in house, once they’re on board. They don’t come with the ability to do a task analysis, manage their own time, manage anybody else’s time use HTML or social media effectively. They don’t come with an array of skills that make them valuable. And forget about large companies, in the case of start ups people need to do a lot of different things reasonably well. So we need multiple different kinds of skills – some of them being very basic and some of them are more sophisticated and all of these kinds of abilities are only acquired by learning by doing, solving problems & addressing challenges. They aren’t learnt by giving examinations and skill concepts. The difference between skill & skill concepts is the difference between theoretical learning & hands on learning.”

Question: How important are having these skills in the world today? How important is leadership today?

“Even those of us who are involved with leadership, understand that it is a very subtle concept. But when people start engaging the question, it grows in the mind & the consciousness to the point where one understands that one has responsibility for the world around us and this world is not going to run itself.  It requires us to take initiative, own problems, build solutions to those problems and along the way make these things into sustainable business models and business plans that will make these initiatives viable for the future. Leadership too often gets compartmentalized into either govermentality or else into management. Leadership is something above and beyond these two kind of dichotomies and yet it cross cuts and informs both of these areas. We have an approach to leadership that involves self discovery, enhances approaches to communication and better interactional skills. In some ways you might say this is the surface of leadership but in some way because we treat the same surface, what happens inside grows as well.”

We’re sure you’ll have some questions to ask him as well and for that, we’ve organized a tweet chat only for you! Some questions that will be addressed in the chat include:

  • Is youth the solution to the leadership need of Indian Politics?
  • What do you think makes a good leader?
  • What do you think are the biggest problems faced by today’s youth?
  • What kind of leaders does the country need in the present circumstances?
  • In the wake of the country’s socioeconomic condition, what can the youth of today do to make a tangible difference?
  • What sort of education does the youth of today need to be equipped with to be better and more responsible leaders?
When: Friday, 22nd February, 2013 at 4 pm IST
How: Follow and tweet with #adiantas to be a part of the conversation.
Tweet Chat