Ilaria Youssef
Ilaria Youssef
Cairo, Egypt 2023-2024
I was born in Egypt and moved to the U.S. when I was 11 years old. Now, I am going back to Cairo, Egypt to volunteer as a data analyst with BLESSEgypt for six months! Come along with me as I give back to the community that raised me. Read More About Ilaria →

Farewells and fun times!

Hi blog!

These past couple of weeks have likely been two of the most exciting ones of my whole stay in Egypt.

A little background before I unpack why they have been so special: Initially, Nardien and I booked our flights to leave Egypt and head back to Nashville on the 2nd of April. However, I recently changed my flight to leave Egypt on the 10th. Nevertheless, my last week in the office was this week.

Workwise, these two weeks have been incredibly hectic. First, I had to sit down with each group of colleagues heading the different programs, so I could ask them about the prominent aspects of their programs that they would like to have portrayed in the big report. Then, I would create the graphs and charts that they requested, get feedback, rinse, repeat.

I was a couple of days into the second week, my last week, by the time I had finished all of those charts, but then some other smaller tasks sprung up last minute and I had to make sure to leave my last day with everything finished.

Thankfully, I finished them in time, and my last day in the office was incredibly wholesome as they got a small platter of sweets and gifted me a big box of goodies and thoughtful presents. Thankfully, my last day wasn’t incredibly busy for them, so after I finished my last task, I got to sit with them, take pictures, and reminisce about our time together.

The box of goodies that my colleagues kindly gifted me

Outside the office, Nardien and I went and explored parts of Cairo that are next to the Nile- we both love a good view.

Also, Egypt transformed into a whole new country with Ramadan starting. The colorful decorative lights adorn the streets. The roads are empty around 6 pm as everyone rushes home to break their fast. The streets are incredibly lively at night to the point that it’s easy to think it’s 9 pm, but when you look at the clock, you’re hit with the realization that it’s 2 am and all the streets are still flooded with people.

The busy streets and the decorated buildings

Nardien and I took a trip to Siwa, and it has now easily become a core memory of mine. We got to go with this tourist company that takes individuals on budget-friendly trips by booking large groups of people. On the way there, I got to meet so many awesome people that were on the bus with us, whom I hope to stay in contact with. In Siwa, we got to go hiking, sandboarding, and swimming in the famous Siwa oasis. The latter two activities have been on my bucket list since the second I knew I was coming to Egypt, and they were exactly as phenomenal as I had imagined them to be. We also got to go on a desert safari and speak to locals in Siwa. I was fascinated to learn that they have their own dialect which they learn at home when they’re kids, and they learn Arabic later on when they go to school. They also have slightly different customs and cultures. Being in Siwa felt like exploring a different country without ever having to step foot outside of Egypt.

The Siwa Oasis

These are all the adventures for now, but I’ll write again soon as I start packing to head back to Nashville.

Until then,

Ilaria Youssef

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