Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Yorgui Teyrouz

What’s planned for Zouk Mikael (Lebanon) this Sept. 12? A special TEDx session?
I have been hearing and reading terms like ‘salon,’ ‘innovation,’ inspiration’ and ‘TEDx’ in the last three years.  Many people are not exposed to these key words, being thrown around and they are not sure what it’s all about?
It’s about conferences being held around the world for ‘ideas worth spreading’. You could read their website but it’s so full of the word ‘TED’ that it just about makes you dizzy, so here’s a quick re-cap of what they do and why you’d want to be involved in their next salon.
I attended many sessions in Awkar at Patsy and Riad apartment and they were energy recharging events. Engaged people discussing freely on topics being screened, in a very relaxed and homey environment

Time Out Editors posted on Aug 27 2012:


The annual TED conference brings together “humble” geniuses, ideas-people, movers and shakers to talk about technology, entertainment, design, science, humanities, business and development. It’s basically the best day of lectures that your university never gave you.
But it’s not just the conference, there’s kind of TED everything (hence the confusion.) There’s the Talks, which are the video recordings of lectures from the conference that are available to watch online.
Add the Open Translation Programme, and you’ve got yourself the Talks videos in over 40 languages, made almost entirely by volunteer translators.
There’s the Global conference that has a more international spin, and the TEDx program which is what they’ve got going on in Beirut. The ‘x’ programmes are independently and locally run sessions that follow the mantra of the main conference. At the programme, they screen a couple of TED Talks videos followed by group discussions, and often enlist a couple of local minds for live presentations.
This round of TEDxBeirut has roped guest speaker Yorgui Teyrouz for a Q&A following the video screenings.
I read that transportation will be available from Beirut to Zouk Michael. And that’s a great facility: Transportation is not easy in this tiny Lebanon, even with the crowding of all kinds of private cars. Still, you have got to reach Beirut from where you are located.
There’s also a reception after the conference for a spot of networking. The places at TEDxBeirut book up fast, so register now to join this global community of forward-thinking individuals.

Register for Wednesday Sept. 14 session for TEDxBeirutSalon at the Youth and Culture Center, Zouk Mikael. Register here:

“Be the change you wish to see”: Back to TEDxBeirut?

Count on Lebanese to review past event, like the TEDxBeirut that was held in September of last year.  This time around, it is worthwhile a serious recollection of this non-profit project that came through with flying color. It was a great event that required 6 months preparation and the exhausting last month, which prevented two dozens in the board from getting a couple of sleep daily.

A few members in the organizing board had quit secure and well-paying jobs, a few risked being fired by spending work-hours doing something else other than their paying work, a few stacked up phone bills of around a $1,000, and a few shifted the entire focus of their consultancy towards a non profitable project.

I have posted many articles on TEDxBeirut, TEDxRamallah and other sessions…

Note 1: I wish we could get the full translation of the video presentation: It is very hard to listen to the video with the slow internet connection in Lebanon and many regions of the world. In any case, I am the type who enjoy reading and not sit still and listen when in front of computers…

Note 2:

Sketches of a few speakers at TEDxBeirut by David Habchy

Note:  I have published 4 posts on TEDxBeirut. You may start with session One.

The English version of the Lebanese “Daily Star” commented on TEDxBeirut conference held on Sept.24 at Berytech institute (Mkales): “It’s a surprising and impressive feat to get 19 speakers, four performers, a 27-member organization team, numerous volunteers (about 55 in all) and over 600 attendees into a lecture hall at 9 a.m. on a rainy Saturday morning, but TEDx Beirut achieved it.”

Daniel Habib & Tony Oudaim

Yorgui Teyrouz

Farid Younes

TEDx Staff

Michael Kouly

Katia Saleh

Ali M. Jaber

Mahmoud Natout

Farid Younes

Reine Abbas

Najat Rizk

Mazen Hajjar

Ziad Abichaker

Ziad Abichaker

Hassan Aziz

Arne Dietrich

Bassam Jalgha

Gilbert Doumit

Hala Fadel

Halim Madi

Joanna Choukeir

Andrew Bossone

Session One of TEDxBeirut: Inspiration regardless of lack of limitations
I have been postponing publishing my article on theTEDxBeirut one-day conference with the slogan “From Limitation to Inspiration”: I had a backlog of a dozen posts to be edited and published. TED means Technology, Education, and Development… 

Note: You may read my previous post on that event for details on eight speakers 
I woke up at 6:30 and Cedric game me ride to the conference.  On the way, Cedric saw the car of David Habchi (the event cartoonist), and the usual conversation lead to something like this: “Wait for me at such and such place…I have to pick up someone…I follow you…” I am thinking: “Great! I’m going to miss the vegan breakfast…”
We arrived in good time and safe. Getting my badge and the bag containing the program and the starting process… were to start at 8:30 am, along with breakfast.  The conference was to begin at 9:30, but effectively was opened at about 10.  I had a slight difficulty because I refused to attach my picture (via internet) to the required information, but TEDx gang knows me (anyway, I brought my ID card for emergency reason). The badge lacked the required information on email address…simply because it lacked my photogenic picture…
I received a black bag as a long time supporter: many had a white/beige color bag.  I guess the content of items were the same:  I needed many items in the bag such as the special TedxBeirut pen and the notebook from Memac Ogilvy, a booklet on the speakers’ biography…Surprise! The breakfast was not vegan by a long shot.  We had French croissants, Lebanese croissants, bastered croissant of bouche manakeesh…Juices, and hot water for mixing Nescafeewith an assortment of powdered cream, sugar (regular and brown)…
People who wanted plain hot water had to wait in line for the others to take time mixing their Nescafee…As the event began, I had this impression that I might be the only one taking actual notes: Most of the audience relied on the audio-visual material to be posted on the internet and the constant stream shown on big screens.  Thus, the audience could play with their balls (the bag contained a red/pink rubber ball for finger-pressing to relieving frustration).  I was cool and relaxed but worked on the ball, and suffered fingers-cramp and had to stretch every finger, one at a time.

Session 1

At 10:08, Sarah Sibai hosted for the entire day (She had just graduated from Oxford). Sarah asked the audience to meet the people who sat next to us, so we did. My neighbors were Hani and Rola Asfour, Hala and Nadine in the row ahead of mine.  It turned out that Rana Abu Rjaili worked at the same company.
The first speaker was Michael Kouly who announced that he was blessed with a new-born Paul-Anthony.  He won’t be the only speaker to delivering these interesting news, as if they are running for election and asking for our compassion…

Michael’s speech was on “Never take as personal failure changes in positions or job transfer…Current responsibilities are basically temporary roles and they are volatile.  We are NOT our role.  Conflict is the norm and we need heat to cook a conflict into resolution. Thus, your main job is to staying on stage and confront conflicts.  Learn to identify and understand authority, the psychology and system of authority: How to dance with elephants, learn the many manifestation of dynamics in role-playing. The default value of 5 in the middle of the scale of ten is: Respect yourself and respect authority.  Going overboard on the two kinds of respect defines your status in the hierarchy.

Be flexible and negotiate with authority. Nelson Mandela was scared shit of the warden on his first day in prison but he took a chance on saying “I am a lawyer, don’t forget it…” Nelson went on “I wished the warden was not looking at my shaking knees…”

Katia Saleh, was next at 10:35 (see the link).  She talked us through her journey into “for dummy movie documentaries” such as the making of Shankaboot, an Emmy award-winning Lebanese web drama. She knew how to make me crack up!
Daniel Habib (at 10:45), accompanied by Tony Oudaimy on the lower bass told us a very intense, supposed be “inspiring” story of survival. I frankly didn’t comprehend the story. It felt like an irresponsible son got his shit together as his mother, the matriarch of the Eskimo tribe or some fast going extinct tribe, died.
Yorgui Teyrouz spoke at 10:50 (see link for details) told us how a car accident sent him to prison, and made him start Donner Sang Compter (a Facebook network of volunteers giving blood) that would eventually save 12,000 lives!
Yorgui Teyrouz behind bars in Roumieh prison; sketched by David Habchi.
Farid Younes spoke at 11:06.  Farid is an Environmental designer, and teaches architectural design and cultural issues in design…He is writing a book “The fallacy of architectural discourse: an idealistic nihilism”.   He spoke on something like bacteria in our body are far more numerous than our body cells…Awareness (wa3i) is responsible to our behavior…rethinking our bad habits?  Probably, I was not that inspired to taking more notes…
Tammam Yamout took the stage at 11:20.  He is a newly wed graphic designer and enjoys long-distance running…He talked of his method to direct people to locating hard addresses to discover and save time explaining how to get there… Tammam co-founded PenguinCube providing services in identity design, “wayfinding design?”…Good speaker, but topic was not inspiring to me…
Mahmoud Natout, spoke at 11: 28.  Mahmoud stood, one leg within the circle of light (for the LBC TV cameras) and the other outside the red circle, and wondered “Should I speak?” Mahmoud had trouble with TED style and didn’t feel comfortable emulating TED speakers: Speakers taking the stage for less than 10 minutes and doing their best to explaining sweeping claims on life, knowledge…He said that he was reluctant being another TED speaker, before conversation with the group of organizers convinced him to go ahead with audition and the long process.And I wondered: “Why the organizers had to convince him the hard way if Mahmoud had nothing to say in the first place?  Couldn’t Mahmoud find a story to tell after he was convinced to speak, except saying that he has reservation…?” I had written and published many posts on my reservations of TEX program…I could find many stories to tell the audience on TED shortcomings, if I knew this could be a fine topic…A coffee-break pause and a few sweet bites at 11:40 before we rejoined the vast auditorium around 12:05.

Note: The English version of the Lebanese “Daily Star” commented on TEDxBeirut conference held on Sept.24 at Berytech institute (Mkales): “It’s a surprising and impressive feat to get 19 speakers, four performers, a 27-member organization team, numerous volunteers (about 55 in all, I counted them on stage) and over 600 attendees into a lecture hall at 9 a.m. on a rainy Saturday morning, but TEDx Beirut achieved it.”

Note 2: Chamas published a post under “Toward Inspiration beyond limitation” a summary of the event. He wrote: “I attended the main TEDxBeirut event, after attending the V2.0 salon. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.  Unfortunately in Lebanon, any major event is often a big disappointment, but today I am very proud to say that TEDxBeirut topped off any other event this country had in a very long time!
This amazing gathering of so many brains, delicious brains gathered in a very small area, all sharing ideas and thoughts about our world and how to make it better couldn’t have been any more interesting. Today I spent the entire day, and yes, I woke up at 8AM on Saturday, at Berytech Mkalles and got to chat with a gentleman who’s originated from Ohio, USA but happened to be in Lebanon at the time of TEDxBeirut and decided to come.”

Mostly a Hoax: “From Limitation to Inspiration” slogan of TEDxBeirut

The slogan or motto of TEDxBeirut was “From Limitation to Inspiration”.  At first, this slogan didn’t inspire me much, in the sense I felt I have read that slogan before, or that is essentially the theme of TED in the first place.  When you read that slogan what comes first in your mind? What does it mean to you?

I interpreted the motto as: “Your are an individual with huge limitations (physical, mental, financial, connections, unstable family, poor country with no institutions, a disintegrating social structure with no community cohesion and support…) and yet, you managed to struggle and be a “success story” that can be “inspirational” and benefit society and people connected to you…”

You may send me the alternative interpretations to inspire me further, but my article will be based on my interpretation of the slogan.  From the 19 speakers, I could barely isolate four who actually fit my understanding of the slogan, and will demonstrate my case shortly.

I am convinced that the slogan was meant to catalyze the basic two organizers of this huge undertaking, and to inspire the other members and support network to surmount the difficult obstacles and limitations in Lebanon for coordinating the event.  William Choukeir and Patricia Zoghaib overcame many real limitations and inspired thousands for a “big cultural and reflecting events, which connect engaged youth and set them to communicating pragmatically, can take place in Lebanon!”

My impression is that the organizers failed to take advantage of opportunities in order to define what is “limitation” and the wide range of limitations in the Lebanese society, and gather categories and define what could be “inspirational”.  If they invested the time to meeting individually all who submitted a one-minute video and had a talk with potential candidate, they would have been far more inspired and would have an excellent background to establishing meaningful criteria for the selection process.

Mind you that the first six months were kind of trial and error journey, and meeting the potential candidate would have aided in what “From Limitation to Inspiration” means to them, instead of the common biased understanding that “success means establishing an enterprise that generates profit or acceding to a CEO position her and there…”

For example, is it impossible to find handicapped or autistic people who could be considered “success stories”?  Should all speakers be very much ambulatory and looking “presentable” so that the event doesn’t give the impression of a gathering of “retarded” Lebanese?

For this article, I will selected sample speakers from each of the three sessions who do not fit the slogan, and the speakers who do fit.  It is very likely that I will re-edit this post and be as exhaustive as possible to proving my case.

Group one: Speakers who do not fit the “limitation” criterion.

Speaker Ali Jaber was born in Lebanon in 1961 (he looks much older). Ali was correspondent of New York Times, chief correspondent for the German Press Agency (DPA), founded and managed Future TV and Zen TV. In 2004, Ali  was hired as consultant to head Dubai Media Incorporated…He is currently General Director of the MBC Group TV.  He founded the Mohammad Bin Rashed  School for communication at the American Univ. in Dubai and working on a PhD degree at Cambridge Univ. on Arab satellite TV… What was the story of Ali at the TEDxBeirut?  Ali Jaber wanted to link the University via internet to other universities (ultimately, hooking with 148 university in the US). Selim Edde told Ali to shoot for 100 Mbite.  Ali made a few phone calls to higher-ups in Dubai government and got the funding and facilitation…70% of the students receive scholarships…

What kinds of limitations did Ali Jaber had to surmount? He had the connections, the money, the position…Does this case applies to the slogan? Good work Ali Jaber: Inspirational talk.

Speaker Hala Fadel is chair of MIT Entreprise Forum of the Pan-Arab region.  She has been organizing the MIT Business Competition for the last 5 years: Over 3,000 participate from 17 Arab States.  Hala manages $13 billion at Comgest…She is married with 3 children. What’s the story?

Hala was 21 and happily married. One evening, her husband (currently a deputy in the Parliament) asked her: “Hala, are you happy”.  That set Hala into deciding to continue her education and on the path of success.  What kinds of limitations Hala was confronted to?  She had the support, the money, the brain… Does Hala fit the slogan?  Great job Hala: I enjoyed your speech.

Speaker Ziad Abi Chaker is CEO of Cedar Environmental.  The enterprise specializes in building Municipal Recycling Facilities on the communal level, contrasting with central Mega recycling plants. The three-way deal is for banks to extend soft loan to build the local plant, and the municipality to paying only the services of recycling/composting in monthly installments, not exceeding $5 per household per month.  Ziad told me that the Hariri clan, having monopoly of the wast disposal for the last 20 years, offered him $5 million to get out-of-the-way… Ziad studied industrial engineering at Rutgers Univ. (New Jersey).  How limiting was Ziad situation?  He has the brain, the energy, the family support (rich and into import business…) and the connection…Does Ziad fit into the slogan?  Cudo Ziad: Great idea, great project and highly sustainable, and wonderful presentation.

Speaker Arne Dietrich teaches psychology at the American Univ. of Beirut.  He surfs the “stream of consciousness” and his favorite topics are daydreaming and the “transient hypofrontality” induced state, generated by swimming, biking, and hiking for miles on end… What’s the story?  His “objective” research on what is called “higher level of consciousness” experienced by yogi and … are in fact in the lowest level of consciousness of our primitive brain…

What were limiting Arne? Maybe the case of Arne is a moot one: the biography stated that he was diagnosed with incurable curiosity and spent time in an “educational” institution…and what of going globe-trotting for years?  If Arne was from my hometown, he would be elected “Town certified idiot“. If Arne was from my hometown, I would rank him top in “limitations” among the speakers who managed to “inspire” against all odds! Informative talk, and “inspirational to me”, though many were dozing after lunch…

Group 2: Speakers who fit both the limitation and inspiration criteria:

Katia Saleh is founder of Batoota Films and producer of “Shankaboot”, winner of the 2011 International Emmy Award… Katia produced and directed award-winning documentaries “Beirut: All Flight Cancelled” (2006), “Iraq: Womens’s Stories” (2006), “Return to Basra” (2003), “Inside Saddam’s Iraq” (2003), the documentary “Ashura: Blood and Beauty” (2005)…

What’s the story?  Katia is from Kfarshouba, Lebanon,(on the border with Israel) and the town of her mother is Nabatieh.  She worked as usher in London while pursuing her study. A British asked her where she was from. He had no idea where Palestine was and she said: “Jesus is my neighbor”.  When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, an Israeli soldier asked her mother for her ID papers and she replied: “It is up to you to show me your papers”.  This incident was very inspiring to Katia. She received many threats on YouTube.  Any limiting handicaps with Katia? What about chasing danger for shooting documentaries that are worth recounting?

Speaker Yorgui Teyrouz is currently a pharmacy student at Lebanese American Univ. He is founder of “Donner Sang Compter” (Give blood selflessly).  The on-line group on Facebook saved 12,000 lives since 2007.  What’s the story? Yorgui was very young, 19?, when he overrun and killed someone in a car accident.  He was sentenced in Roumieh prison, one of the worst overcrowded prisons in Lebanon.  How a young man surmounted the indignity and humiliation of being incarcerated, and went ahead to coming to the rescue of people in need of blood? Very inspirational.

Najat Rizk is CEO of Firehorse Films and was acclaimed the second most successful CEO in Lebanon by Harvard Univ. Firehorse tagline “Making Television Worth Watching” is a commitment to producing knowledge-base and innovative media that engages audience.  Samples of her documentaries are “The Great Trade-off” on prisoners swapping between Hezbollah and Israel; “From Herat to Baghdad” “The living martyr: Hezbollah unveiled”…

What’s the story.  Najat lived in isolated Ashrafieh section of East Beirut during the civil war; her mother is from the town of Ghosta in Kesruwan.  She decided to make a documentary on Hezbollah.  Najat was so persistent that she got an interview with media director of Hezbollah.  She ended up living an entire year in Dahieh and changing her guard-robe…and was finally adopted as one of them. And her journey started filming the ceremony of Ashoura, going to Jordan and filming a Qaeda base in Salt, meeting the Dalai Lama

Just this guts to taking vile myths by the horns and taking the plunge; it is inspiration enough to breaking taboos instituted by ignorant communities…

Speaker Joanna Choukeir Hojeili is doing her PhD at the University of the Arts London.  She is exploring “how communication design methods and interventions” can contribute to social integration. She is using four design methods. For example, “Exploration” method is an innovative cultural probes toolkit.  “Connection” refers to a new perspective in networking method. “Expression Corner” is designed as a diary room for virtual interviews.  “Imagination Clinic” is intended as co-creation workshop.

The four methods aim to inform the development of communication design interventions for social integration among youth from different social groups and communities in Lebanon. Lebanon is a society heavily segregated along religious, political, geographic, linguistic, and cultural lines. The design package is transferable across other socially segregated communities worldwide.  What’s the story?

Charbel (18 year-old) from the district of Bshare has never visited south Lebanon, and barely stepped out of his restricted district.  Sahar (19 year-old) from Tyr didn’t visit much of tiny Lebanon.  Charbel and Sahar are curious to meet other youth of different religious, cultural, and geographical locations.  Many are plain apathetic in mixing with other people.

On October 1st, the first pilot workshop “Imagination Studio” will be held, inviting 25 of those who participated in the virtual interview so that they agree on a practical program that they will implement as a group.  This pilot workshop is sort of co-creation process: Every member will combine “what he knows” in expertise.  Outside experts will participate to put in shape a feasible program for application.

Joanna got a job pretty quickly: She was first of her class.  Two years later, Joanna realized there was no prospects for fulfilling her life dreams.  Short on money, she applied relentlessly to different overseas universities for scholarship.  Finally, she set her target on University of the Arts London and took the dive, working in London on several jobs and continuing her higher education.

Group 3: Speakers who do not fit the “inspiration” criterion.  For example, they failed to “inspire me” in any shape or form. I will refrain from expanding on this group, at least, not in this post.

Let’s consider a few limitations to inspiration in this modern society.  Do you think not being able to own a computer a serious limitation? How about not getting connected to the internet? What if you cannot afford the expenses of a cellular phone? You have no transportation means, and you have got to walk 2 miles to the nearest library to getting connected to internet in order to publish, rain or shine, hot or cold, and the library has no English books and you have got to translate…

If within 4 years you managed to publish 2,400 articles on in 50 categories…On a scale of one to 10 (highest inspirational case study), how would you rate inspiration within the above limitations? Does the extra piece of intelligence that the person is over 60 years make a difference?  How about this person does not enjoy any family or community support, like someone exhibiting self-autonomous behavior, and is starting to be viewed as one of the idiots of the town with “mild autistic” syndrome?

I say: “What has been done and properly executed is the best at the moment.”  I suggest the next program will have the same slogan to demonstrate the versatility of this powerful slogan.

Note: The sketch or cartoon is from David Habchi who covered the TEDxBeirut conference




May 2023

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