2013 – May: Amman and Dublin
I spent most of the month on the road, though luckily not all my travel was solo. After a few weeks hanging out in Paris, I was energized and ready to wander again.
MBA Trophy Awards – Dublin
First up, I headed over to one of my favourite cities, Dublin, to speak at the MBA Trophy Awards. The crowd was great and I had some really fascinating conversations with entrepreneurs who are working tackling everything from water shortages to new advances in healthcare service delivery. I spoke about The Decoded Company and some of the lessons that startups can learn from this new data-abundant environment that we find ourselves in. Unlike major organizations who must spend a lot of time and effort adapting to these new circumstances, startups have the advantage of being able to embed some of these best practices right into their DNA from the beginning – giving them a huge competitive edge.
I also had the chance to visit some of my best friends who live in Dublin, and even though it was only a few short, short, days there is something so wonderful about being to reconnect. The best friendships are the ones that you can pick right back up no matter how long you’ve been gone. You just easily fall back into that old familiarity as though the space and time between you vanishes instantly.
I always leave Dublin feeling happy. It’s one of those places that I’ve felt instantly at ease in ever since my first visit with Jesse back in 2007. We did a road trip around the country and I remember feeling like I could almost touch the hints of the old magic that once lived in the rolling green hills.
Amman Jordan – Visiting the Zataari Refugee Camp
As always, I marvel at the synchronicity of my world sometimes. It was an enormous blessing to get to have visited Ireland before this trip. It gave me a chance to top up on my happiness and optimism – both of which would be severely depleted after my visit to the camp. I had the opportunity to go and see the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan as a part of a trip with the Young Global Shapers. It was an eye-opening and heart wrenching experience that deserves its own standalone post, but it’s been difficult to write. Everytime I try, I end up just staring at a blank page wondering how to even begin to describe everything that I saw and felt during that time.
I left Amman with a heavy heart, but also determined to find some way – no matter how small- to contribute to this humanitarian crisis. I’ve been toying around with a few ideas, I’ll explain more later.
The Dead Sea
It wasn’t all sadness though! I also had the chance to spend a few days with Jesse at the Dead Sea. It was my first time there and swimming in the Dead Sea has been on my bucket list for a long time. It was a wonderful experience, the water was just incredible. There was something incredibly freeing about being weightless. It was a great thinking place because you could just let your mind wander wherever it wanted to, while being cradled in the cool water. The mud was also really fun to put on and my skin felt so soft afterwards! There weren’t too many people there and we watched the sunset feeling like the only two people in the world. After the cold spring we’ve been having in Paris, the sun was such a welcome relief.
We also had the opportunity to go and see the stone city of Petra which was totally breathtaking. To see the ingenuity how people survived and thrived in this once important trade center was like stepping into a time machine. Being there made it so easy to picture the merchants, the bustle of the markets and the smell of spices. I cannot even believe that a Swiss explorer happened to stumble upon this city and re-discovered it for the Western world. Can you imagine? You’re out hiking in the valleys of Jordan, filled with canyons and pink mountains You pick a stone path and follow it, as it weaves through the stone and suddenly, you see something rising up: it’s the treasury. I can’t even imagine the feelings of awe and shock that you would feel.
One thing that did surprise me was how much I enjoyed hearing Arabic being spoken all around me. It’s funny because it’s not something I had ever thought about, but it made realize how little I hear it in my day to day life. Maybe it’s because it’s my mother tongue, and my brain recognizes something in the tonality and vocabulary that reminds me of my childhood. Or it could be just my DNA twinging because I’m close to the land of my ancestors, and that tribal blood is calling to me. It’s funny because it made me realize that no matter how international we are, or how many countries we live in, there will always be places that we belong to, places that we have a connection with.