Jowahdi was a participant in the YES alumni Training of Trainers Workshop which took place in Cairo from Sep. 22-27.
By Jowahdi Salik, YES 2011-12, Philippines, hosted with PAX in Orange, MA
Before going to Cairo, Egypt, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t let the excitement inside me occupy my mind, but I didn’t know that this experience would be very different from my previous travels.
Upon reaching Cairo, we were welcomed by fellow Egyptian YES alumni who helped us get to the hotel. After checking in, my body wanted to rest but I started feeling excited— that feeling they call butterflies in the stomach. My excitement stopped me from sleeping and told me to go to the lobby and wait for the other YES alumni from different countries to arrive. Yes, I was physically tired from more than 15 hours of flight from Mindanao to Cairo, but emotionally prepared to sit, listen, share, learn, and have fun for the training.
The training began with introductions of participants and trainers, expectation setting and a review of the agenda for the coming days. We started with a fun activity introducing ourselves and answering the question, “If you had a magic wand, what changes would you make?” The question really made me think because deep inside I have a lot of things I want to change; things that are big, global issues and I know that they would be impossible to solve quickly, and maybe they will never be resolved. So instead of listing them all, I said that, if I have a magic wand, I will ask it to divide itself and distribute it to other people in the room so that everyone can make a positive change when they get back to their communities.
Interestingly, some shared they wanted to end traffic in their city, end hunger, love for humanity, one language for the world, free travel everywhere, and many more. My takeaway from this part of the training is that we can all make change; the world is full of social problems, but it is also full of loving individuals who want to act to make positive changes. If we only work together, then little by little we can turn these ideas into reality.
Our training week also included a cultural outing. Who wouldn’t be excited to see the great pyramids in person? What I appreciated most about the cultural tour is that it got me thinking about cultural similarities and differences, especially as it relates to economics and tourism. The tour opened my eyes to the current social and economic issues back in my country, the Philippines, as I compared and contrasted practices in Egypt and the Philippines.
One of my main interests is understanding the current cultural and environmental issues around the tourism industry. For example, Boracay Island in the Philippines was closed for rehabilitation because of environmental damage from tourism. The Philippines tourism sector heavily promoted the island’s beauty and welcomed millions of visitors from around the world. Tourism provides millions of dollars in economic contribution and infrastructure development to support the influx of tourists. However, this then led to many environmental and conservation issues. Plastic straws and other single-use plastics ended up in the ocean harming marine animals. After the cultural tour, I decided to do my practice training session on how to be a responsible traveler.
The training concluded with our practice trainings, or “trainback” sessions. We’d spent the previous days putting together our practice training using the skills we gained, such as learning how to write solid goals and objectives. We were split into small groups with one trainer, and each of us conducted a 30-minute practice training for the others in our group.
The idea of my training, “How to be a Responsible Traveler” is to share the negative effects of traveling on the environment, and to also share tips on how to travel responsibly. I started the session with a game called “Bucketlist” in which participants are given time to think about their ultimate dream destination and list all the things they’d like to bring with them when traveling. The goal of the game is to help participants realize that every single item we bring when traveling can contribute something negative to the environment.
Some of the tips I shared to become a responsible traveler are: packing your things as early as possible, bringing your own personal hygiene kits instead of using the one that the hotel provides you; and having your own personal bamboo or metal straw instead of using a single-use plastic straw.
Now that I’m back home in the Philippines, I’ll be working on refining my training idea and I am planning to conduct the training in different schools in Cotabato City.
Through the YES Training of Trainers workshop, I didn’t only take home many photos with stories, but also important learning and techniques on how to become an effective trainer in the future. This always reminds me that one of the reasons why YES alumni were given an opportunity that changed our lives is to serve our communities by sharing all the skills and knowledge we gained.