By Janna El Hadad, Egyptian Youth and e-GLO 3 participant
I first got acquainted with the Earth Charter in 2010 when I applied for e-GLO3 (Earth Charter Global Learning Opportunity). I had to do my research, going through every bit on the website, thoroughly reading the declaration and understanding it. By doing so, I came across many success stories from Business to Government and other sectors. I was so inspired that I felt that I had to be involved in the Earth Charter even if I wasn’t accepted into e-GLO 3. Thankfully I was accepted and I joined the e-GLO community for the first session in September 2010.
e-GLO 3 was the first time I enrolled in an online course. It was a completely new and eye-opening experience for me. There were around 32 participants from all over the globe at each session, so, diversity and intercultural dialogue were an integral part of the course at all times. During our sessions, we learned a lot about sustainability, leadership, social entrepreneurship, and many other topics.
Right after I finished the course, we Egyptians overthrew the government and President Mubarak and had our Revolution of January 25th come to life for history to record. Since then, we’ve toppled another regime, overthrown another president, invalidated two constitutions and the country has never been BETTER!
Looking back at my experience in e-GLO 3 and with the Earth Charter now after all that has happened in my country, I am proud. Proud that I applied for such a course and joined such a movement!
I was intending to write how the Earth Charter changed my perspective regarding the Presidential elections and constitutional referendums, but actually, it was the other way around. Even though I believe I understood the declaration quite well, what we went through in Egypt helped me to see the Earth Charter and e-GLO 3 in a completely different way.
I came out of eGLO 3 with a very clear image of how I wanted my country to be. During some of the sessions, we were asked to come up with ideas and projects to help our communities and develop solutions for problems we were encountering. I suggested that Egypt establish an official Youth Parliament parallel to the regular Parliament under Hosni Mubarak’s rule and the old regime, to overcome the oppression and limited involvement of Youth in decision-making. I remember the speaker we had welcomed the idea but argued against its practicality and that our Government would not allow it. That was true then but now things have changed. After the revolution, this idea became an actual one proposed on National TV and talk-shows everywhere!
Similarly, when it was time for Presidential Elections, I recalled our sessions about Leadership and Youth Sustainability which helped me choose the President who best fit the circumstances in my country.
When we started living through electricity blackouts in Egypt, I really related to an e-GLO participant from Uganda. During one of the sessions, he told us that they didn’t have electricity at the moment and that he was online using a generator of his own. I experienced almost the same exact thing just a few months after the session. This made me realize that this world is utterly small and coexistent. What one country is facing now may sooner or later happen to another. Global partnership is not only essential but it is inevitable. This is something I learned from e-GLO and was proven to me in time!
Taking all that into consideration, I was overwhelmed at how genuine and actual our discussions in e-GLO were. We weren’t just debating random ideas, we were developing real action plans that could very well be implemented to change a whole nation! That’s what e-GLO was all about and I definitely consider it one of the most authentic and valuable courses I’ve ever been in.
I mentioned earlier how it was the other way around when our Constitutional Referendums made me perceive the Earth Charter in a different manner. You see, reading the declaration carefully and understanding it made me acknowledge what values and principles you’d want to rule a country by in order to build a just, sustainable nation.
I recognized the four pillars that I want in a constitution; Respect and Care for the Community life, Ecological Integrity, Social and Economic Justice, and Democracy, non-violence, and peace. Thus, the Declaration gave me the perspective that allowed me to vote to reinforce or invalidate a constitution. Which I proudly did twice! I realize how practical the Earth Charter is, it’s not just an inspiring document. It is something we should all adopt and reinforce in our nations!
Finally, I believe the Earth Charter enabled me to have a clear vision for my country. I now know for a fact that Earth Charter is not only a declaration. It’s a pathway, a route for this world’s collaboration, development, and sustainability, all proven by real life-time experience. I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone working with the Earth Charter; you are making the world brighter every day. THANK YOU!
by Janna El Hadad