When I was a little girl and took my KGI’s grade book, my aunt asked me: “So to which class will you advance now, Jana?” I answered her confidently: “I’m not quite sure, either KGII or brevet.” Everybody laughed so hard because brevet is the ninth grade in the Lebanese Educational System. You can tell that I really wanted to grow up fast. I have always used to pretend that I am a teacher lecturing a class of invisible students but everybody told me that this is too early and that I had to go through high school and university; and only then will I be able to have a job and practice it.
Well, guess what? Today, I am still in university and I am already happily working and holding great responsibilities. How? My scholarship society, Unite Lebanon Youth Project, informed me last summer thatRama Chakaki is looking for interns. I was surprised because I thought that university students are only supposed to intern in their senior year. Despite that, I enthusiastically applied and was accepted! I can still remember Rama’s redundant words “You are amazingly efficient!” and Dina’s “I see something in you and you will grow to shine”. These sentences resonated in my head and boosted my self-esteem and self-worth a hundred times, which brings me to the first thing I have acquired from the BigSis/LittleSisProgram: Motivation is key. The amount of motivation I have received from Rama and Dina is magnificent. Even if I have done something wrong, they would still encourage me which means a lot to me. The greatest of all is that I am actually using this with my friends and peers; whenever I see a chance, I just seize it and motivate them no matter what they have been through. Seeing the smile on their faces and that sparkle in their eyes is just priceless.
During the internship, Rama introduced me to Dina Bseisu , founder of ChallengeToChange and I started contributing to the website on a weekly basis. After the end of the internship, Rama and Dina contacted me for a chance to work for C2C as a content writer and editor. I pleasantly accepted their offer and started working. The feeling was very weird: To be a student in university, yet with a part time job. I would proudly tell people that I do so and so with this website and introduce them to its vision. It was a very new world for me, but I loved it! I was able to learn how to balance between my social life, work, and studies. I was also able to enhance my communication skills where I improved my critical thinking skills and initiated positive dialogues. As the team started growing and Rawan and Asma joined, I had the chance to effectively practice my intercultural competencies. Indeed, I was able to acquire great leadership skills and became the Internship Coordinator and Social Media Manager last month. I never realized how important social media was until I worked with C2C. I learned how to efficiently use it to spread the word and mission of C2C. Not to mention the great people I have had the chance to meet and interview because of the distinguished connections that Rama introduced me to.
I could literally go on and on if I were to discuss every single lesson, trait, and moral I have learned from my journey with C2C. To sum up, self-esteem, communication skills, time management, organization, life-work balance, leadership skills, activism, empathy development and much more are concepts that I have acquired and enhanced during the BigSis/LittleSis Program.
To be honest, I would not be the lady I am today if it was not for this inspirational and dynamic program.
“ Challenge to Change, is an initiative aimed at raising awareness about mental health for women from the Middle East. It is a platform for dialogue and support, enabling women to share their experiences, strengths and hope while being supported by mental health professionals. Through raising awareness and taking on the stigma, Challenge to Change has created safe communication channels and support groups with the objective of providing effective and lasting solutions.
Challenge to Change is THE voice for mental wellness for women from the Middle East.”