“What has been the biggest challenge of your life and how have you overcome it?”
In front of me the interview board of the world biggest student run organization. Inside me a strong will to be part of something big. The feeling of willing to change the world that persecute me since I started going to school that can finally find his place to explode. My ambition to become someone valuable for my society is there. Sitting in front of 4 students and Professors.
The biggest challenge of my life? I am not really sure, probably it has been to study for the final exam of high school, striving to get the maximum while playing volley as professional. Studying on the bus on the way to the next match, on the car of the manager going to the gym to train, in the night, in the class, last minute before the examinations. I made it. 100 e Lode.
Was it a challenge? At the end I did not do anything else then what I was supposed to do. Took my books, took ownership of my duties: Be a student. No, this cannot be.
It can be the trial to enter in the School of Excellence “Sant’Anna di Pisa”. 5 places in total for all the applicants from Economics, Law, Social Science.
Minimum points to get out of 2 days tests: 35. I got 34.5. Failed. mmh. Was that a challenge? Probably a challenging situation, something for which I tried to prepare for one month, or maybe something I could have managed to achieve if I would have not spent my holidays having some free time. NO, this is not a BIG challenge.
Even though my challenges in life did not really sound like BIG, I managed to join the organization and I lived quite an experience until now.
My biggest learning point has been never to underestimate the talent and the stories that can be behind the person standing in front of you. No matter physical aspect, age, nationality. People are awesome and in the main cases is when you are not expecting to find something special that you actually find yourself amazed by beautiful individuals and by their stories.
Sunday 28th September 2011, Addis Ababa.
I am done with exams, now I just need to create the last 40 pages of a paper that will be my last step towards closing my University career. Power off. Weather super cold and it’s raining too. We go for lunch to the next available place out of the compound. A small traditional restaurant. As usual, “shiro and firfir. A- m-sakanallow” [or something that sounds like this, meaning: thanks]
The waiter is a young and very cute Ethiopian girl. We got to know she is studying political science in Addis Ababa University. We leave her our business card. AIESEC in Ethiopia starts promotion to recruit. Never know she is a talent.
13th November 2011, Addis Ababa. 8.30 am.
AIESEC Ethiopia recruits and is organizing Induction days for all the new members.
As National President of the organization I am taking part in some interviews during the selection process of the candidates. Rules are clear: if you come late, even if just of 5 minutes, you are out for now. See you in february to the next round.
So, “Tell me something about you, and why should you be the right person for this organization?” In front of me that girl of the restaurant. Still cute. Still looking very interested and motivated to be an AIESECer. But appearance is not really much.
“I come from Eritrea, where I was a marketing student. Now I study Political Science in Addis Ababa University..” “so, if u need to choose one moment, what has been your biggest challenge in life? How have you overcome it?”
“I am a refugee in Ethiopia, I escaped my country where there’s a dictatorship. I would have preferred to die than to stay under intellectual prison. I just did it. I spent 7 month in a refugee camp from UN. Life there is hard. Is not possible to describe it. Someone neither can afford clothes. Many times you don’t have a soap to wash yourself, you are provided with a small cup to drink and some pieces of sugar. The rest is up to you. Generally, there’s anything else. Now I have scholarship here to study and I need to do some job to sustain myself..”
Everything else that was part of the interview is not supposed to be shared. At least, not now.
I felt small. I felt I did nothing in my life. I felt the power of a question, and the universe behind its answer. I felt I want to tell her story to the world. I felt my experience is senseless. I could have I ever thought to have faced challenges in my life?
What is defining the value of our choices? The outcome of them, or the courage that is making us doing one step further?
I called this blog “go out of the box”. I am considering the fact that many people in the word neither have ever had the chance to be inside the box.