May the 6th, the TEDxBaghdad team made it through the devastating Sunday’s traffic to reach for the naturally talented group of Iraqi teenagers, who rose from variable socioeconomic backgrounds to join the Gifted Student School in Baghdad.
After getting a traditional breakfast at a small public shop, the team started a day that they would remember for the rest of their lives. We (Anas, Abdal Ghany, Mohammed and Hayder) tried to follow the directions through the alleys, which felt like a maze with the concrete blocks everywhere. Until a man from the neighbourhood rode the car, and put us on the right track. After a very warm welcome from the director and her staff, a very interesting conversation started with the management of the school about their journey through the years. Of how they made it through all the hard times with their devotion and dedication just to nurture those talents, by providing the best possible environment for them so that they can achieve the highest levels of their potential.
Very inspiring stories were told about the schools successful participation in regional competitions, and how this first of a kind experience was spread to other cities in Iraq and similar schools were established all over the country. Being touched by those stories and the emotions that we felt in their voices, we started our tour around the school. We were guided through classrooms and labs that were just renovated. A glow shone in the students’ eyes when the director was introducing the TEDxBaghdad team to them. Their eyes that made each class feel like a university hall despite the one digit number of students.
Eventually we got to our activity site, the meeting hall, which unlike the rest of the school, was supplied with state of the art equipment. Wondering about the fundings, the answer was that the money was saved from the schools basic budget. What a spirit! They were saving from their meals and housing fees from their trips just to supply their school with the best devices. While preparing for the event a group of students jumped in, helping us with the preparations and arrangement of the site, amazing us with their helpful attitude and beating with energy, but sadly, limited by reality.
While waiting for the 9th graders to finish their exam, suddenly one of them showed up saying that he submitted his papers in a hurry fearing that he might miss the event. With that motivating act we started our presentation about TEDxBaghdad, proceeding with talks from TEDxBaghdad 2011 and TED conferences. Seeing how much they were touched and how inspiring their reactions were, told us that with such young spirits, Iraq will always have people to carry our heritage and civilisation to the next generation. A very remarkable note which made the event even more special to us. The discussions after the talks were so interactive and captivating that it dragged us all into discovering more and more about their remarks and opinions.
While we were indulged in the fascinating ideas shared by the students, the school director had to notify us that we exceeded our timeline and we had to wrap it up. Which was actually very surprising, since we literally lost track of time with such an unique audience. So we started packing our stuff along with the kind words from the director and professors to the youngest of the students who all told us how much they were changed from inside by the event, and we could not ask for a better end of such an amazing day. A day when we engaged our future with the genuine talents of our present.
Written by: Anas Haitham
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