My Journey from an Introvert to an Extrovert
by Marwa Khalifa
It all started when my best friend introduced me to an organization called AIESEC. I was initially not intrigued, but then something magical happened.
I was in a zone, where challenging myself was not an option, it was a must. Having to go through interviews and selections was not my thing. No one likes filling in applications and going to interviews. I filled in the application, did the interview and I passed it. I was somehow shocked and proud, I had achieved something, and had finally left my comfort zone.
The second step was as important as the first one, as I had to choose a project in a country of my choice. And let me tell you, having to choose one country out of hundreds was not an easy task. I wanted to visit them all. I ended up choosing India and that was when the magic started to happen.
After doing all of the paperwork and taking care of my visa, it was finally time for me to go to a different country, that was located in a different continent. I arrived at the airport in India and I met a nice man, who asked me whether my name was Marwa. He was my driver.
I settled down and met my flatmates: they were people from different countries, with different backgrounds. They have left a permanent mark in my life. I could call them my second family; they are truly a family that I would not forget for the rest of my life. They are people who taught me that I can never feel completely at home again, because a part of my heart would always be with them, wandering elsewhere. I will gladly pay the price of loving and knowing people in more than one place.
The project I was working on was an educational one. The first day at work was not as easy as I imagined. The kids were between five and nine years old and they could not understand me, nor could I understand them, and that was challenging. I had to teach them English and was determined to do it, for I wished to have an impact on their lives even if it were going to be a small one. I was eventually able to teach them and communicate with them, after many attempts and failures.
Those kids taught me a lot in return. They taught me never to give up, to keep trying until I get what I want or be where I want. They taught me that nothing was impossible.
They also showed me how to be happy with the little things I had, that money is not everything and that it does not buy happiness. No matter how hard their lives get, they will always be happy and grateful. They taught me the real value of simplicity.
I traveled to more than one place during the time I spent there. One of the closest places to my heart was Kashmir. It was very spiritual and clean, one of those places where you feel calm and relaxed. I also went to the infamous and iconic Taj Mahal, obviously. The place is breathtaking. I could not believe I was standing in front of one of the world’s seven wonders. Jaipur, or the pink city, was another destination. It was such a beautiful city.
The experience was life-changing. During those two months, I was taught to look beyond barriers of language, skin color, social class and religion; and just accept everyone the way they are. I went to India as an introvert and came back with a whole new mind set and a different personality, from the one I left Egypt with.