“Mistakes Are Precious Life Lessons”

Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story!

A: I grew up in a small Mediterranean country called Lebanon. If you have never been there, I strongly recommend visiting. You will be welcomed with great food and hospitality, a long standing history where Lebanon survived various civilisations, an incredible nightlife scene and fascinating nature where mountains oversee the mediterranean blue. But growing up in Lebanon wasn't the easiest, in spite of all the aforementioned positives, Lebanon faced over the past few decades civil wars, wars with neighbouring countries and have been impacted by the turmoil in the Levant region.

That has lead to poor infrastructure and allocation of resources, and financial burdens. Growing up in Lebanon, I always felt there is more to be done to help the country. I have been engaged with several NGOs and youth groups throughout my school and university years to try making an impact on the society we live in. That lead me as well to a career in consulting tackling challenging problems, and an entrepreneurial ambition to try creating a better society.

Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?

A: Today, the forces of global engagement are helping some people identify as global citizens who have a sense of belonging to a world community. This growing global identity in large part is made possible by the forces of modern information, communications and transportation technologies. In increasing ways these technologies are strengthening our ability to connect to the rest of the world— through the Internet; through participation in the global economy; through the ways in which world-wide environmental factors play havoc with our lives; through the empathy we feel when we see pictures of humanitarian disasters in other countries; or through the ease with which we can travel and visit other parts of the world. Historically, human beings have always formed communities based on shared identity. Such identity gets forged in response to a variety of human needs— economic, political, religious and social. As group identities grow stronger, those who hold them organize into communities, articulate their shared values and build governance structures to support their beliefs. Those of us who see ourselves as global citizens are not abandoning other identities, such as allegiances to our countries, ethnicities and political beliefs. These traditional identities give meaning to our lives and will continue to help shape who we are. However, as a result of living in a globalized world, we understand that we have an added layer of responsibility; we also are responsible for being members of a worldwide community of people who share the same global identity that we have. We may not yet be fully awakened to this new layer of responsibility, but it is there waiting to be grasped. The major challenge that we face in the new millennium is to embrace our global way of being and build a sustainable values-based world community.

Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?

A: One of the key issues facing Lebanon is the economic and social impact of the Syrian crisis, now in its seventh year. According to government and independent sources, up to 1.5 million Syrians, about a quarter of the Lebanese population, have taken refuge in Lebanon since the conflict started in March 2011. This has strained Lebanon’s public finances, service delivery, and the environment. The crisis is expected to worsen poverty incidence among Lebanese as well as widen income inequality.

Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?

A: Young people face a lot of problems nowadays. And this is a result of the difficult time in which we all live. Young people are the most vulnerable part of society, because, for the first time, they have to face life on their own. Despite the fact that it may be difficult, they have to struggle for their future. The main problem young people face is the difficulty in finding a job.

Young people are considered inexperienced and no one is willing to hire them for a position which requires a sense of responsibility. If someone appoints them, the payment is very low and they are used as cheap working class. It is a long and difficult way to the top for ambitious young people. But if there is a will, there is a way.

Another problem young people have to deal with is the educational system. There are a lot of universities but not everyone who has a wish to study what he/she wants has this chance. It is very expensive to study in another town and a lot of people can’t afford it.

Drug abuse is also an issue which young people have to handle. Desperate with life, they, choose another way of living. A lot of young people get involved in drugs because they cannot refuse their friends. This causes them a lot of headache. They lose their freedom, families and become dependent. Having once started, it is very difficult for teenagers to find and follow the right way again. Young people have a lot of other problems, as well, but they have time to solve them. The whole life is a big struggle and every day there is something new, for which they have to fight. But still, there are a lot of happy moments in life for which it is worth living.

Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?

A: Mentorship can provide you with guidance to help you reach your ultimate potentials, mentors have been through different life experiences and are willing to share with you their experience so you can make the most of your life.

Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?

A: Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way.

Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!

A: Embrace - NGO focused on raising awareness about mental health issues.

Q: What are some of the challenges that women in your country face and what efforts are made towards gender equality?

A: In politics, only 4 out of 128 women are members of the parliament. In society, women are more likely to be physically harmed. Mental health is largely ignored as an issue.

Q: Athena40 is the first ever global selection of the top 40 women forward thinkers, commentators, activists, authors, academics, entrepreneurs, executives, innovators. Can you think of a truly innovative and forward-thinking woman from your country that you wish to nominate for the Athena40 global list?

A: Rana Chemaitely, Amal Clooney, Joumana Hadad

Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!

A: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

- Steve Jobs

Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.

A: Focus on the good things.