“Philosophy pushed me to join SEKEM,” says Rafik Costandi. “In my last university years in Germany, I started reading philosophical works, which reminded me of SEKEM and its inspiring founder, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish,” the SEKEM teacher recounts.
Right after his graduation in 1986 Rafik Costandi joined SEKEM where he was able to witness the initiative`s establishment and development. “SEKEM is today a place where you can find all life aspects in a harmonic balance with nature. And Dr. Abouleish had already visioned that 40 years ago.” Besides being a German teacher at SEKEM School, Rafik, the son of a German and an Egyptian is also a very active member of the SEKEM Choir. “I have been in love with arts and music since I was a child. My mother used to play the piano in our home in Cairo, which I enjoyed very much” he recounts.
Drifting back home
The 56-years-old was raised in Downtown Cairo, where many people from different cultural backgrounds used to live together. Rafik attended the German School in Cairo and became friends with his classmate Helmy Abouleish, who is today SEKEMs CEO. Therefore, the longstanding SEKEM worker recalls, ” I already knew about SEKEM during my school years and was very attracted by the idea of building a sustainable community in the desert.”
Before joining SEKEM, Rafik studied Economics and Political science at the University of Konstanz in south Germany. Directly after his graduation he flew back to Egypt and joined SEKEM. Hy. e first worked in the Finance Department of the SEKEM Group where he witnessed the initial development of its companies, t and the establishment of the SEKEM Schools. In 1991, Rafik, looking for a career switch, found out that the SEKEM School was searching for new language teachers. Rafik seized the opportunity and now recalls how he felt a deep calling to fulfill this role. “I liked languages and I believe that teachers plays a crucial role in shaping the future,” the current SEKEM teacher says, “deep inside, I knew that I wanted to fulfill this role.” Today, supporting young generations in developing their talents and unfolding their potential, continues to inspire Rafik everyday
Contributing to a sustainable future
More than twenty years later, Rafik continues to teach English and German language. In addition, he helps SEKEM School find qualified teachers that are able to convey SEKEMs holistic philosophy.
In this new role, he has became acutely aware of the flaws in the Egyptian education system. Faced with rapidly increasing numbers of students, “The current system lacks the resources necessary to teach students in a proper way and does not allow for students to develop their creativity, he argues. Unfortunately, he argues, “I also see that young people lack the willpower to drag them out of the flow of such situations.”
“It is never too late to explore your potential and talents”
Besides his various activities in SEKEM, Rafik Costandi has been attending vocal classes at the Cairo Opera House with other teachers for the last 15 years. “It is never too late to explore and further develop your potential and talents,” the art lover asserts with his characteristic deep and calm voice. “Music and all other kinds of arts encourage the peaceful balance of the human nature. That’s why integrating them into the education process is a must at SEKEM.”
Rafik considers all SEKEM students as his children: “I wish I could support them in living in balance and harmony with themselves and with their environment. Hence, they would find the bright future, which they can build by themselves.”