Already half of the journey is done

By Nagham Nassar, World YWCA Programme Associate

Six incredible months passed. I can never forget when i got the email from the World Office : ‘Nagham Nassar, we are pleased to inform you that you have been selected for our internship programme’. I was drunk with joy. But at the same time, I had mixed feelings; am I able to live far from home for a year? Will I do a good job? Will I be a good representative of my country and my National YWCA in Lebanon?  My trip to Geneva was scheduled for January, so for two months I was haunted by all these ideas and I was extremely happy for the opportunity but at the same time, extremely scared. Then the big day arrived, 25thof January. I’ll never forget this date all my life. After all my goodbyes, and after leaving my parents, my family and my friends back home, I was heading to a new life, new page and new experiences.

Nagham Nassar

Getting used to this new life wasn’t a piece of cake. What helped me during the transition is being in a beautiful work environment. All the members of the staff were so welcoming that I felt I am working within my family. The diversity of the group made me gain a lot of new information and a beautiful experience. Attending sessions in the United Nations was an amazing exposure. Meeting all the professionals and seeing the ways of work made me feel more involved in the issues dear to my heart. On a personal level, getting to know and to share my life with the other two interns, Marcia and Nelly, is making the experience richer and more meaningful. Sharing our happy, crazy and sad moments; our disappointments and our frustrations and our previous experiences in life made my life easier.

As a Programme associate, we are supposed as well to travel and to be part of conferences within the different continent of the YWCA and international conferences and trainings, like CSW or AIDS 2012. The first trip that was assigned to me was to be part of the Middle East Youth Regional Meeting: ‘Young Women as agents of change’. At first I was frustrated. I wanted to have another experience away from the Middle East. But, after starting the work and the preparations of the meeting, I was happy I am a part of it. I felt I can help with doing a change in our region. And I was preparing from all my heart and working with my colleague Mandy Nogarede to prepare our session. We wanted our session to be really well structured but at the same time interesting for young women. It’s not easy to take very strict material and do it in a nice way. So, we worked together for long hours and we created a fun and interesting session with the help of other colleagues, as Juli Dugdale. Being so swamped in the preparations made me forget something very important. This time, I was representing the World Office not the National YWCA of Lebanon. I realized this just few days before flying to Amman – Jordan. This was weird for me. I felt a big responsibility and tons of questions came to my mind: how am I going to do that? Will I succeed? Am I able to advocate for the World Office and not only for my country, something I am used to do within the YWCA. This is the second day of the training. I feel more confident now than before. The sessions are going very well.

Today, Mandy and I gave our session about the strategic framework for the World YWCA 2012 – 2015. The participants were really interested and happy with the selection of activities during the session. Each one came out with her own dream and they made beautiful art works to show their dream. Now, more than ever, I am really happy I was selected to participate in this training. I have the chance to live a new experience: participating in a youth meeting from my region, but representing the World Office and not my country. Believe me it’s not easy to separate from our nationality, especially for someone like me who is really proud to be Lebanese, and who really tries to work on empowering women and young women within their country. But now, after the time I spent in the world office, I participate with a different vision and point of view. Now, I know the high level of importance that the world office allocate for Young Women leadership and I feel more empowered and armed to advocate this and to help the other young women in the Middle East to feel more confident and to defend their rights and to work on issues they care for.

I have a dream, a dream to see more women in all levels of decision – making, especially within my region and my country. After only two days and with more then 26 participants from the region (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine) I feel confident that my dream will come true. I am proud to be a young woman from Lebanon, a Young woman from the Middle East and a member in the World YWCA.