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 →

Secret Santa and the Opera!

Hi blog!

The past couple of weeks haven’t been the easiest, but we got through them, and that’s all that matters!


I’ve been inching a little towards burnout due to a compilation of factors. Winter weather and early sunsets are already a recipe for exhaustion, and my brain is still making a considerable amount of effort to translate everything I come across. Plus, something I hadn’t anticipated is the office-volunteering aspect of it all; when volunteering, most of the time, you interact with the people you’re helping and witness the impact of your work firsthand. However, when volunteering in an office setting, I’m only seeing the data behind the people, so it’s easy to forget that what I’m doing is also making a difference.

On the bright side, as we’re approaching the new year, they are currently ironing out some last-minute fine details of their new 2024-2027 phase, so I’ve been sitting in on a few meetings and getting to see the inner workings/ the administrative side and how decisions are made in an NGO. It’s been a valuable experience, and I even got to share my input from a pure data/statistical perspective and get feedback about my ideas.

The office has been playing a game of Secret Santa, and the way they’re doing it is that each person is supposed to give multiple little gifts leading up to New Years, and then on January 2nd, they’ll give each other a bigger gift. Since I won’t be at the office on the 2nd, because I won’t have time to land and make it in time, I’ve been helping everyone deliver gifts to each other, and some of my colleagues even told me that they wanted certain things, and I’ve been sneakily delivering these requests along to their Secret Santa. Even though I am technically not a part of the game, I feel like I hold so much power because everyone trusts me enough to reveal who their person is.

Cool Experiences/ General Updates:

This is very insignificant, but worth noting: I recently went to get a haircut, and unfortunately, it did not come out how I wanted it at all. In fact, it is comically awful and too short for me to even put up. I have been scouring the internet for tips and tricks on how to deal with it; hopefully, I find a solution soon.

I went to a concert at the opera last week, and I had the absolute best time.  The concert covered much of Fairuz’s, an extraordinary Lebanese singer, discography. There was a live orchestra, and different singers would come out on stage to sing different songs. It was such a magical, music-filled night.

I am so excited to see my sister soon!! It will be a nice, much-needed break to get me back in the groove.

Since this is my last blog post before the 25th, merry Christmas!! I hope you’re surrounded by family and friends, and that your year is ending on a high note!

Ilaria Youssef

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