“Every time an opportunity of development appeared to me, I used to say ‘Yes’ to it. Yet, I learned to be more selective and to look ahead during the past years,” says Moamen Ghanem, Heliopolis University’s Specialist for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Inspired by the American movie ‘Yes Man’ – which is starred by Jim Carrey playing a role of man who challenged himself to say ‘Yes’ to everything for a whole year by which his life changed to the better – Moamen decided to open himself to life and to all the opportunities it brings. “When I decided to take development chances, although they seemed difficult in the beginning, I was able to find meaningful missions in different fields of my life,” says the “development seeker”.
During his university years, Moamen had been working as a receptionist at a radiology center. One of his colleagues decided to quit his job and work as a teacher at SEKEM School. “When I heard about the interesting education approach, I became very curious,” Moamen recounts. The 30-year-old SEKEM member, who studied History, learned that the history’s most successful and memorable people are those who were eager to do something good to humanity. “And this is also the mission of the teacher,” the present ESD specialist tells.
“The morning circle was a stunning event for me on my first day at SEKEM!”
In 2012, Moamen Ghanem started to work as a teacher at SEKEM School. On his first day, he joined the daily morning circle with all SEKEM teachers, standing hand-in-hand and welcoming the day together. “That was really a stunning event for me. I had never expected that such a profound education approach takes place in an Egyptian School,” tells the former class teacher of SEKEM School. “The education system in Egypt still lacks committed teachers that are able to inspire the students.”
Like all the SEKEM co-workers, Moamen also attended trainings, art workshops and weekly meetings with SEKEM Founder Ibrahim Abouleish. “This was mainly about philosophical topics which inspired me to reflect my own lifestyle”, he reveals. “Besides, it helped me a lot to deeply understand the different and individual perspectives of my students.” And the pupils seemed to enjoy that too: “Although I left the school some years ago, some children still remember me and call me every now and then”, the teacher tells happily.
Sometimes new opportunities are misleading
After two years of being a devoted teacher at SEKEM School, Moamen decided to proceed with a new challenge. In 2015, he started working as a customer service agent for an international company. “The opportunity appeared very tempting to me in the beginning. But quickly I figured out that it was a misleading decision,” the ambitious young man recalls. “I missed the capacity building sessions that I used to attend at SEKEM, as well as the working environment and the connection to nature.”
At the same time, Mohamed Anwar, who is also a former SEKEM teacher and today the main instructor for ESD at Heliopolis University, was searching for a colleague. “I was lucky that I just crossed his mind and therefore found another chance to reunite with SEKEM,” says Moamen with gratefulness. “When I found myself standing in the morning circle again, it felt like coming back home.”
Today Moamen is fully dedicated to SEKEM and Heliopolis University. The ESD Specialist takes over the management of various education ventures and pedagogical initiatives at Heliopolis University. “I reflect what I experienced at SEKEM as a teacher and integrate it into these programs. My greatest concern is to help the students in finding space to express themselves freely and develop their creativity,” he states. Besides, Moamen is giving tours to guests at the Heliopolis University campus, offering them insights into the several academic activity fields as well as the SEKEM philosophy.
The father of a two-months-old daughter is striving to integrate his work concern more and more into the Egyptian society: education for a sustainable future of the country. “We still need a lot of potential development and innovation, but I say ‘yes’, we can do it – especially when we share the SEKEM Vision”, says Moamen Ghanem full of hope. “I’m looking forward to seeing my daughter Roqaya playing at the SEKEM Farm and enrolling her to SEKEM School as this is the best place for children to develop and to create a peaceful future.”
Get to know Sanaa Shehata, Quality Assurance Deputy Manager for Admin Affairs at Heliopolis University for Sustainable