After having attended the Global Issues Service Summit (GISS) in Johannesburg, South Africa, Cairo American College students, Hana Ghazi and Zeina Azab were motivated to start their own project at CAC. The summit, which tackles global issues, featured different delegates from all over the world, discussing several topics including projects founded and led by those delegates. There, Hana and Zeina were lucky to have had the chance to meet students from different parts of the world who shared with them their own experiences in turning innovative ideas into actual businesses.
One presentation in specific, done by students of Madagascar International School, caught our students’ attention. This project was particularly interesting to the CAC students as it seemed to have a great deal in common with their community in Cairo. The project in Madagascar was inspired by the fact that while few students are lucky enough to be receiving an international level education, giving them great future opportunities, not everyone around them is lucky enough to receive the same privilege. In Egypt, the situation is similar in that the level of illiteracy is relatively high, and CAC students are in fact, among a select few who are lucky enough to be receiving such high quality education.
It was from this presentation that Zeina and Hana found the inspiration they needed to start a very similar project at CAC. This is when Dayretna GSS was born. Dayretna is a student-founded and student-led project that aims to provide English, Arabic writing & reading, and IT tutoring to employees at CAC, while building strong relations between all members of the CAC community. Hana explains; “ The whole concept of ‘Dayretna’ which translates into ‘our circle’, is that we are bettering our community and the circle of people all around us. “It’s isn’t only us teaching them, but in many cases, they are teaching us,” she adds.
Today there are over 20 volunteers working in this project, from student volunteers to teachers and staff as well. All members of the CAC community are invited to volunteer if they can. The volunteers are asked to choose whether they are willing to provide English, Arabic or IT tutoring.
Because of the diverse nature of CAC community, it is crucial for anyone working within the community to be able to speak and understand English. A big number of the janitors and technicians, who form a vital part of CAC community, have not had the luxury of learning another language, and some of them can’t even read or write in Arabic and have no IT knowledge. This is where Dayretna comes in. The volunteers provide tutoring for employees who sign up, thereby giving them an opportunity to develop new skills, and more so, allowing them to pass on this learning to their kids, which in turn is benefitting the whole community, as was the objective of this project.
Hana and Zeina further took part in the Warsha Youth Service Conference; a conference organized and led by Hayah Academy International School in Cairo, Egypt. The conference provides a series of workshops relating to community service. Dayretna, which was running against two other competing projects, won the “The Next Big Thing” award at the conference. This award, which was of great sentimental value to the Dayretna team, also provided 10,000 EGP. “We have already started investing this money in the project. We bought students supplies, notebooks, translation books etc,” Zeina explains, for the upcoming year.
The students also have established contacts with other international schools in Egypt because of international conferences hosted at CAC, like CACMUN. Their plan is to start reaching out to these schools by next year to further expand Dayretna to be a national project across Egypt, born at CAC. This is just the beginning of the project. “We would like to expand this project beyond CAC and we hope to start branching out next year and contacting other schools. We have already started working on a curriculum and a manual for that purpose,” Zeina explains.
When asked what will happen to the project after the two founders graduate, Hana had this to say, “ A lot of freshman students are a part of this project, so we are focusing on teaching them all there is to know, so as to hand it down to them, and we hope that they do the same before they leave, so that Dayretna can always continue.” Zeina added, “We made it a team effort, rather than just having one main person in charge, so that everybody can do it, and it won’t have to end when someone leaves,”
CAC takes pride in bringing up students who are constantly looking for opportunities to give back to their community and who are always looking for new ways to improve the overall social conditions of the community in which they live.