Just before I begin, I would like to define two words:
TED: which is an annual conference bring to people new inspirational ideas that worth spreading. It stands for Technology, Education, and Entertainment & Design. These aspects are the core of TED yet, these conferences and events can talk about politics, global issues and music for example.
Inspiration: to inspire is to communicate or suggest by a divine or supernatural influence, or to fill or affect with a specified feeling.
Keep those definitions in mind, and let’s leave these definitions aside and start my experience in TEDxRamallah in the morning of April 16, 2011.
I was about to witness the first ever TEDx event to be held in Palestine, with double doz of 500mg pain-killer for an expected headache after long journey and day, yet I was ten times more excited for the attendance of this amazing event! Unusually, I was awake so early in the morning making myself ready to reach Bethlehem on time. Going around Jerusalem which I am not able to see and passing through Israeli check points to finally reach the Bethlehem Convention Palace, one of the most amazing architectural buildings I have seen with extra ordinary organized event. And so, I was ready to leave the hectic morning aside to start my inspirational hours.
Inside, we listened, slept, laughed and mostly cried on many touching stories shared by the speakers. We went back six decades through our Palestinian history with Sam Bahour, witnessed an amazing miracle with Steve Sosebee & Ola, the six years-old kid who fought cancer, and reminded by our biggest wall in our lives with Sheerin Al Araj from Alwalajeh village. We also have seen Mohamad El Dahshan telling us about the almighty Egyptian revolution we all lived with for weeks, and cried our eyes out on the Vittorio Arrigoni death with Huwaida Arraf. Yes, the event touched us all, but.. WAIT! Is this what I came for? Is this what inspiration is suppose to be for a Palestinian living under the same circumstances? Did I cut all this way to hear about the Palestinian suffering?
With all due respect to TEDxRamallah, it failed to provide me with something new I can add to my knowledge or even inspire me with something I can continue to build my homeland with, instead of the Self-flagellation most of the speakers were expressing the whole day long.
Going back to our first two definitions, TED event which suppose to bring me inspiring ideas in Technology, Education, Entertainment and Design, has not brought much in those fields. It did not give me the inspiration I was looking for even in slight similarity to other TED or TEDx events all over the globe.
From how I saw it, TEDxRamallah, which was ironically located in Bethlehem, was targeted towards NON-Palestinians audience instead of the Palestinians. TEDxRamallah which was suppose to inspire me with living examples from our society in how we can build our homeland, turned into another typical session talking about the suffering Palestinians faced and still facing for the last six decades. Made me cry on my own tragedy, on the struggle I faced on my way to the event that morning, which I was suppose to forget for the following nine hours-sessions for the guide tour by speakers.
Except for Mohammad Khatib with his great “Bazinga” project, Fadi Ghandour and his experience with Ruwwad in Jabal Natheef in Amman, Munir Fasheh with his unorthodox referencing using his mother & the Palestinian checking and few more speakers, I was not much inspired, or gained new information to my knowledge as Palestinian who lives and work in Palestine. I text a friend of mine Dubai telling him, I wish you were able to attend this great event because you would love it. I was sure it will be inspiring for a non-Palestinian or someone who is not in struggle with the life in Palestine. If I was still living outside Palestine, I would love it too.
When I came to TEDxRamallah, I was looking for keys and clues to help me deal with my day-to-day routine as I have seen in similar TED session through their websites. I was looking for guidness to help me think out of the box instead of keeping myself within the wall and think within its borders. I was expecting a great business man like Sam Bahour to guide me into how I can build my own business and work within the closed minded market and bad circumstances in Palestine, instead of listening to him crying over his three months plan of not being able to buy a new car or a new home while majority of people cannot find bread to eat!
I can not isolate myself from the reality all Palestinians are living, but I can assure you what was mostly brought to TEDxRamallah were not what the Palestinians were looking for. Telling me my everyday tragedy is not inspiring for me! I, personally, do not mind talking about Palestinian suffering with the Israeli occupation in a speech or max two, but this TEDxproducts was overwhelming and I am still looking for something new or missing in my life to be inspired about!