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 →

Stepping into the Last Month

Hello again!

The last two weeks at the office have been extremely busy. I was tasked with double-checking every number within a 70-page report. It took me the entire two weeks to finish. Although there were data tables on almost every other page, what was most time-consuming in checking the accuracy of these numbers was hunting down and trying to find where each number originated. Additionally, the Excel sheets I was sent, which contained the original data, were in Arabic, while the report was in English. While I have significantly improved my reading, writing, and overall understanding of Arabic, it was still quite a challenge, given that I was dealing with mostly technical terms. Nonetheless, I enjoyed putting my skills to the test, and my colleagues were patient and kind with my excessive questions, ensuring my translations were accurate. On the other hand, BLESS has only recently, within the last few years, started to digitize their files, so I can’t begin to imagine how they managed these lengthy and detail-oriented reports beforehand.

Outside the office, the country is getting ready to celebrate Ramadan, so there are huge pop-up shops everywhere selling Ramadan decorations, making it seem as if the streets themselves are adorned with festive lanterns.

I believe that winter is officially over here, but people are not yet ready to retire their winter clothes that they haven’t had much of a chance to wear yet. The weather has been in the 70s Fahrenheit and has even reached the mid-80s on a few days last week. Since we’re basically back to summer, Nardien and I dined at a cute restaurant on the Nile, enjoying the view, the food, and, of course, the company!

I’ve also met with family members, as I am starting to realize that I will be leaving soon and will miss the cozy feeling of familial love. So, I am trying to soak up every last ounce of it.

I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a Sunday service led by the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church. It was a special and beautiful service because they were also consecrating the altar of that local church!

A huge pop-up market was held over the weekend, where small businesses go to advertise and sell their products. I always feel inspired walking around and seeing how these people have turned their extraordinary talents and passions into a living. Everything in the indoor market was handmade: food, clothes, bedding, lamp shades, accessories, tableware, and everything in between. It was a wonderful opportunity to support local businesses.

My weekend wasn’t very eventful. Having crossed into the last month of being in Egypt, I spent the last weekend mainly planning my next steps. I’ve been applying for jobs in the U.S. and planning some other travels after Egypt but before I head back to Nashville.

Only a couple of these blogs left to write. What a surreal thought and experience it has been so far.

As always, send prayers my way.

Ilaria Youssef

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *