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INTERVIEW WITH LAILA DELAWAR ~ HR ASSISTANT LECTURER AT ALEXANDRIA UNIVERSITY

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INTERVIEWERS : Gabriela Neves & Mahmoud Mansi

Publisher: Amira Haytham​

“I believe that putting that goal in front of my students and reassuring them that with continuous effort it is much attainable regardless of any obstacles is very significant…”

Laila Delawar

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Laila, being the very passionate person you are, and knowing that jobs should be related to people’s passion, what do you think people can do to find their dream job, and to always renew their passion?

Laila Delawar: Well, knowing my dream job was never an easy task, I never thought that I’d love teaching; actually I thought that I’d hate it! As a kid I thought that I wanted to be an engineer, I really loved mathematics and thought that this was enough. However in my last year at school I studied accounting and business, I started asking about that field and its potential careers. I knew then that this is what I wanted to do and decided to join the Faculty of Commerce, a decision that wasn’t supported by many as it wasn’t one of the competitive top faculties that demanded high grades, the so called “Koliyat El-Kemma” a concept in which I strongly disagree with, as if students that get high scores are obligated to choose among being a physician or an engineer regardless of their real passion, regardless of what they really want!

Yet what gave me a clearer perspective regarding what I want to do is that I joined many activities and job trainings –both related and unrelated to my field– that helped me better understand myself, my strengths and weaknesses, better understand the working environment and above all it helped me discover what I really want to do with the rest of my life. I believe the secret is in being open to new experiences and having the strength to choose your own path regardless to society’s pressure as this could always save you from getting stuck in the wrong place.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You worked as a Curriculum Developer for a short period of time. How can jobseekers develop their activities and CVs in a good way to find the job they want? Can you give some tips?

Laila Delawar: I’ll address my answer to fresh graduates, as I understand that writing a good C.V could somehow be more challenging for them. Every one criticizes that you can’t get a job without experience yet you can’t get experience without a job!

The key is that as a fresh graduate you can distinguish yourself apart from thousands of other graduates by building up your C.V with experience that you have gained not only through formal job trainings which is very important, but also through extra-curricular activities, even if it was totally irrelevant to your field for example performing arts and music will tell your employer that you are a confident person & can address large audience without fear, a skill that could be required in many jobs. Also mentioning that you joined a sports team will reflect that you are a competitive and committed person who is also capable of handling teamwork. Volunteering will show that you are a good citizen and willing to commit to something regardless of any personal gain.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What do you think about HR in big organizations in Egypt? What are the positive and negative things you see? What do they need to change?

Laila Delawar: Well, the role and the impact of the HR function are always dictated by the economic conditions. When the economy is down as it is the case post 2008 recession and extending up till now with the economic turbulences that were currently present in Egypt post the revolution, HR managers know that employees would put up with anything to stay employed, being aware how replaceable they are…that’s why in some organizations you’ll find that most of the hiring, development and evaluation tasks are pushed onto line managers (head of other non-HR depts.) who usually do not have the time nor the skills to properly conduct them. This is not the case in Egypt only, but all around the world. HR find the urge to attract and develop talents only in times of economic booms where workers are hard to keep. However this is not the case in all organizations some HR managers do not wait, as they understand that they can help companies get ahead by investing in programs that are efficient and effective and by avoiding other programs that only function as time-wasters. I believe that one of the most important points for HR success is to take into consideration all stakeholders’ interests especially employees’ in every decision, if employees feel that they are replaceable at any time, they will never excel in their positions as they will never be fully committed to that organization.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: As a teacher what is your opinion about education related to Business and HR in Egyptian Universities?

Laila Delawar: In my opinion, no one can deny that education needs a lot of reform. Yet until the major reforms take place –that needs to start with primary education–, I believe that the curricula in my faculty could be considered adequate, however the real problem lies in the approach in which students sometimes with collaboration of a minority of professors take toward the studied materials.

A lot of students getting out of “Thanaweya Amma” after getting used to memorizing as the only mean of studying, sometimes don’t easily grasp the essence of studying human sciences. They treat the syllabus as if it represents absolute facts, ignoring that it’s continuously subject to debates. That’s why as much as we can; we try to rely on practical cases related to the Egyptian context to enhance the students’ connection with the practical life. This also encourages students’ creativity and critical thinking. We are continuously trying to fight the wrong concept regarding business studies in Egypt, were a lot believe that it is mainly theoretical, however students who actually join the business section in Alexandria University whether majoring in finance, marketing or human resources fully understand that this is never the case.

Laila’s Motivating Office

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: HR is all about motivation and engagement. In your class how do you motivate your students in a way that make them feel interested?

Laila Delawar: When I feel that students are getting tired and start to lose focus, I usually stop and ask them “why are they here?” I believe people loose their motivation when they forget why they have started, reminding them of their goal, which is success in their career life, gives them the push they need. I believe that putting that goal in front of my students and reassuring them that with continuous effort it is much attainable regardless of any obstacles is very significant. With this stated I then try to engage them into what I’m explaining by raising a debatable point or just asking some challenging questions just in order to avoid one-way communication.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How do you motivate yourself, in your job, career, and personal life?

 Laila Delawar: Well I personally believe that looking for a balance is the key. If you invested so much in career and forgot about family and friends, things will get overwhelming. Eventually you’ll be demotivated and you’ll loose the balance that helps you move forward and succeed in both and vice versa. As for my job I try to set specific time framed goals as much as possible focusing on the “whys” as I mentioned in the previous question.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: As a lecturer in the university, what kind of extra support would you like to have from your own HR department that would make you do your job in a much better way?

Laila Delawar: I believe that with the large number of employees working in the Faculty of Commerce, Alexandria University this could be rather challenging but I wish that there would be a better system for employees’ performance evaluation. As an employee this really helps giving you a sense of direction of whether you’re on the right track or you need to be any better.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: If you were working as a recruiter in a university and you needed to hire an HR teacher, what qualities would you search for?

 Laila Delawar: Having a strong academic background is essential yet having someone who has a practical experience in the HR field for a while is indispensable. In my opinion these are not the only requirements; a teacher must have the talent of conveying ideas in the simplest ways, also being a good public speaker is vital to grab the students’ attention.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What qualities are necessary to be a good HR Manager? Why?

Laila Delawar: I think the key of being a good HR manager is being a good leader. Having adequate education and a competent set of leadership skills will help an HR manager successfully fulfill his staff and line roles. Having strong moral grounds is also a priority as they are usually faced by several ethical dilemmas during their tenure.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Do you believe that hobbies as drawing, writing, painting and so on, can help employees in their job, even when the hobby is not related to their job description? How?

Laila Delawar: Of course, I believe that employees spending more time doing something artistic such as these hobbies tend to be more creative, patient and inventive in the workplace, even if the hobby is not clearly related to the job. In my opinion employees who maintain practicing their hobbies, sports or whatever activities they love to do–even if it was just hanging out with their friends–are better performers as they tend to be more relaxed, content and do not feel that their jobs have deprived them from other activities that they loved. Having a job that you are passionate about could turn to be a routine over time, that’s why balancing between your job and personal activities tends to break this routine giving you the chance to be more productive and energetic when you get back to work.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: If Laila were an HR Manager of an organization in Egypt, how would you manage in a different way?

Laila Delawar: Well that’s a very hard question, as I totally believe that there is no one single set of managerial practices that is successful in all situations. As an HR manager here in Egypt, I’ll try to bear in mind that each country and each organization has its very own context that’s why I won’t be able to apply the same HR practices that were successful in other organizations or other countries and just expect the same results/success here. Considering the organization culture is very important as managing in a different way implies a change that is most of the time resisted by settled employees. Also, in order to manage differently and craft company-specific policies that responds to the current market challenges, I’ll need to carefully assess the goals of the organization taking into consideration the environment, the strengths and weaknesses of the organization itself and the threats and opportunities surrounding it.

Laila as a Career Consultant at Alexa Job Fair 2017

Corporate

Empathy at Work. Interview with Mimi Nicklin: Empathetic leader, Author and Business strategist

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Mimi Nicklin is an Author and the host of the Empathy for Breakfast Show & Secrets of The Gap podcast.

She is an experienced marketer and communications specialist, business strategist and a wellknown empathetic leader. She is a natural coach, writer and creative mind, and has held roles as diverse as Strategic Director, Vice President and Creative Officer in some of the world’s leading advertising agencies.

Her passion for balancing humanism with capitalism, drives her commitment to leading the practice of Regenerative and empathetic leadership, as well as her ‘principles of people’, into organisations and communities worldwide.

Softening The Edge is Mimi’s debut book – out on 15 September and available for pre-order now on amazon.com 

INTERVIEWER: Cinzia Nitti

HR Revolution: Hi Mimi, it’s our honor to make this interview and thanks in advance for what you will share with the HR Revolution Middle East Family. Many people assume that Empathy is generally about “being there” when someone is going through a difficult life path. Would you tell us more about the value of Empathy and how the whole concept relates to corporate life?

Mimi Nicklin: After thirty years of data that shows empathy is declining, we have a deficit on our hands; a corporate humanity deficit, an Empathy Deficit. The Empathy Deficit has been formed by a gap in connection with each other at the deepest social and corporate levels over many decades, and it undermines the fundamental principles of our ability to thrive in at work. Workplace absenteeism and apathy are reaching endemic proportions. Corporate anxiety, depression, and extreme proportions of burnout often complete the picture. Never has there been a time in history when we needed an intervention into our working lives more than we do today and empathy and ‘Regenerative Leadership’ is a powerful driver for this turnaround.

HR Revolution: Why Empathy in the workplace matters and how it impacts employee productivity?

Mimi Nicklin: As the environments we work within become ever tougher and sharper edged, especially during 2020, we are seeing employee productivity and performance dwindle. We have a deep problem at the exact point where humanity meets capitalism, and there is a lack of balance between the two which is impacting the performance, focus and capability of team members. This is a problem fuelled by three key parts. First, an ubiquitous obsession with growth at all costs which sees employee wellness drop in importance; second, a never-ending stress cycle which is impacting staff at all levels; and third, a widespread disconnection between our people and corporate culture at an unprecedented scale.

HR Revolution: Mimi, as a consultant and business strategist, do you have a human-centric “recipe” to develop Empathy at work? What would you suggest to HR Departments to improve their effectiveness in supporting employees through Empathy?  

Mimi Nicklin: The key of all empathetic organisations success lies in truly listening to our teams. Both overtly and directly, and through confidential channels such as questionnaires or feedback forms. After many months of 2020 have seen us working from home, as HR specialists we have had an opportunity for the first time in a long time to truly slow down and to consider the wider context of our teams and culture. We can’t expect our teams to not want to make change, to push back against old patterns and to want to work for a higher, more impactful purpose with a more flexible approach. It is in embracing this desire that will lead HR teams to be able to innovative and make sustainable changes to employee performance and health. At the top of our lists should be to listen to our teams as they re-enter their working environments and reassess each area of our business in light of the new world we are facing.

HR Revolution: Vulnerability has been a critical factor for business leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Is there any kind of professional-empathetic method that balances both a company’s ambition and highlights the employee’s role?

Mimi Nicklin: I often talk about principles of people beyond profit. This is not to say people ‘before’ profit. Our businesses need to remain profitable and sustain our organisational imperatives, but we can lead a culture that looks at the value of the strength of our people as something that has commercial value. Empathy in leadership and culture is a data set and an input for your business and the method of balancing them reduces risk and improves uptake and trust from staff, leading to improvements across KPI’s.  Without being able to walk in the shoes of our employees and understand their diverse viewpoints, it is nearly impossible to inspire and lead teams to success, and even harder to create marketing, powerful business decisions or innovative products and services that truly and deeply resonate with people.

HR Revolution: How Empathy, Emotional Intelligence and Technology coexist in response to the post-pandemic era?

Mimi Nicklin: We have more technology to connect with each other and our clients than ever before, and more data to leverage an understanding of what people want, yet the systematic dehumanization by corporate agendas and over analysis has damaged our ability to connect. Zoom calls and team applications can brilliantly connect us and facilitate our business processes but we must be aware the technology can lead to inauthentic and ‘cold’ culture’s between leaders and teams. As HR leaders, it is our intuition and integrity in empathising with the real and honest problems that our teams have (on and off screen) that will allow us to really make an impact and leverage technology without losing our humanity and connectedness to each other at work.

HR Revolution: “Softening the Edge.” A leadership book on Empathetic Influence and Emotional Intelligence is your first book (out on September 15th). Would you give our readers a glimpse of its content?

Mimi Nicklin: Softening the Edge focuses on something I have been passionate about for my entire career—the sustainable wellness of our workforce, treating people with kindness and decency, and the future of Regenerative Leadership that sustainably promotes human values as well as the financial value of every business. It addresses the Global Empathy Deficit from within our organisations, based on my own experiences leading teams around the world, and inspired by the turnaround story in my current organisation. The goal is to create wider understanding that the world of leadership and business is critically responsible for playing a role in protecting and improving our social future. Today, many people do not enjoy their work, burnout is at all-time high, depression is impacting over 33,000,000 people and the younger generation is leaving the corporate workplace in droves. By failing to proactively nurture empathy in our future leaders, we are failing to protect our future. Softening the Edge is part business tool, part corporate culture guide and part social eye opener to a downward trend impacting all areas of life and work. It shows how by harnessing and exercising empathy for employees and each other we can reverse the trend, build happier, more productive businesses and create a kinder, healthier world.

Thanks for your precious contribution, dear Mimi. The whole HR Revolution Crew wishes you all the best!

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Employee

حوار صحفي مع سلمى صادق – ممرضة طوارئ بمستشفى جامعة الاسكندرية

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صحافة: محمود منسي

الناس كانت متخيلة ان المهم في المجال الطبي هو الطبيب فقط ـ لكن اللي مش واخدين بالهم منه انه التمريض هو اللي بيفضل مع المريض بيلاحظ كل عرض وعلامة جديدة في تحسن أو سوء حالته الصحية وانه له دور عظيم جدا في عملية اتمام الشفاء

سلمى صادق

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه سر دخولك للكارير وايه التحديات اللى قابلتيها في بداية المجال؟

المجال الطبي عموما مجال ممتع جدا وأنا من صغري حسيت بشغف للمجال وبدأت ابحث عنه كتير ناس كتير قالتلي المجال صعب ومش هتستحملي اللي بيحصل فيه وشكل الحالات ف الطوارئ والاستقبال وانتي صغيرة مش هتتحملي ده، أنا اخدت كل الكلام ده على محمل التحدي وبدأت بشغفي الدراسة في المجال

أول تحدي قابلته في المجال هو نظرة المجتمع للتمريض في الوقت ده الناس كانت متخيلة ان المهم في المجال الطبي هو الطبيب فقط ـ لكن اللي مش واخدين بالهم منه انه التمريض هو اللي بيفضل مع المريض بيلاحظ كل عرض وعلامة جديدة في تحسن أو سوء حالته الصحية وانه له دور عظيم جدا في عملية اتمام الشفاء

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه المهارات اللي بتميز شخص عن التاني ف المجال ده؟

السرعة في الأداء بشكل متقن لأن مش كل الناس عندها ميزة انها تلحق مريض على بعد دقايق من فقد الوعي وتكون سبب انك تعيده تاني للحياة بسرعه وده بيتمثل في انك تعمل الاجراء صح وتكون مركز جدا في كل حاجة حواليك زي أداواتك كاملة و

cooperative staff without any tensions

وحاجة تانية برضو هي

How to solve problems during work intelligently

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: هل ممكن يكون في كلاشات بين فريق التمريض والأطباء، ايه ممكن يكون سببها؟

ممكن يحصل مثلا كلاش على أساس ان بعض من طاقم التمريض غير مؤهل بنسبة كافيه للعمل أو توضيح أكتر انه على قيد الدراسة أو فترة الامتياز أو حتى حديث التخرج ويبدأ العمل في وقت لا يوجد به افراد اساسيين من الطاقم في وقت حرج فبيسبب ان العمل لا يسري بشكل جيد أو مش بكفاءة عالية

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: في ظل الظروف الحالية هل طبيعة العمل في مجال التمريض متغيرة مع الكورونا وايه المراحل اللي بيمر بيها المريض وازاى بتتعاملوا في كل مرحلة من المراحل دي؟

طبعا اتغيرت وأصبح الأمر شبيه بحالة الطوارئ وأصبحت كل الفرق الطبية على استعداد لاستقبال الحالات المصابة بكورونا وتم توفير الواقيات الشخصية في جميع اقسام المستشفى وتم تدريب الفرق على كيفية لبس وخلع الواقيات بطريقة صحيحة حسب تعليمات مكافحة العدوى اما بالنسبة للمراحل اللي بيمر بيها المريض خلينا نعتبرها الأعراض اللي بيحس بيها المريض على الاغلب بيكون تكسير في الجسم وصداع نصفي مؤلم جدا وارتفاع درجة حرارة الجسم عن 37.5 درجة وبيحصل ضيق في التنفس وجفاف في الحلق وبعض الاعراض اللي بتصيب الجهاز الهضمي زي الاسهال مثلا وحاليا بيتم معالجة الأعراض ومش لازم كل المرضى يكون عندهم نفس الأعراض لا ساعات بيكون تلت أو أربع اعراض متجمعة ف مريض أو عرضين فقط

بالنسبة لدورنا في المرحلة دي هو اول حاجه اننا نطمن المريض انه هيكون كويس في أقرب وقت ممكن واننا بنحاول بقدر الامكان نكون سبب في شفاؤه بجانب طبعا التحاليل اللازمة له والأشعة والمسحة اللي بتأكد لنا المريض ده ايجابي ولا سلبي وتوزيع كورس العلاج المناسب له على حسب الاعراض اللي حاسس بيها

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: كيف تم تأهيلكم للعمل في نطاق الحجر الصحي وايه هيا التدريبات اللى لو كنتم اخدتوها كانت هتساعدكم أكتر في شغلكم؟

أولا احنا اخدنا دورة تدريبية في كيفية التعامل مع مريض الكورونا من أول معرفة أشكال الواقيات الشخصية المختلفة وكيفية ارتدائها وخلعها بالطريقة الصحيحة على حسب تعليمات مكافحة العدوى بمنظمه الصحة العالمية واتعلمنا ازاي نحط خطة نشتغل عليها في نطاق الحجر في المستشفيات

اظن ان من اهم الدورات اللي مفترض تكون في خطة مواجهة الفيروس عموما سواء في نطاق العمل مع مرضى الكورونا في المستشفيات أو خارجها هيا كيفية مراعاة شعور المريض لان نفسيه المريض بتساعد على تحسن حالته الصحية بنسبة كبيرة فمن وجهة نظري اننا لازم نتعلم كلنا ازاي نساعد المريض نفسيا انه يقدر يتخطى المرض ده

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: هل تم اصابة ناس من فريق التمريض وكيف تم التعامل معها؟

للأسف تم اصابه بعض الأشخاص من الفريق المعالج ودة أمر وارد انه يحصل بسبب بعض الأخطاء اللي ممكن تحصل في عدم توخي الحذر اثناء خلع الواقيات الشخصية وما شابه

لكن تم عزل الزملاء اللي اتصابوا وتم بدأ عمل تحاليل ومسحات لهم وبدء كورس العلاج لهم حسب الأعراض وهكذا

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه أكتر الحاجات اللي بترهقكم في شغلكم أيا كان صحيا أو نفسيا أو عقليا؟

أحيانا اللي بيرهقنا نفسيا هو حالة المريض اللي بنحاول بكل طاقتنا اننا ننقذه من الألم والمرض اللي هو فيه وبنتابع معاه من أول ما بيدخل المستشفى مرورا بالعناية المركزة وبنحاول نوفر له أكياس الدم والبلازما اللي محتاجها مثلا وبيصارع الألم بعدها وبنكون مقدرين كل الألم ده وللأسف مبيكملش حياته والأمر بيكون مسألة قدرية بحت وطبعا على الجانب الاخر ضغط الشغل نفسه في المستشفيات الحكومية بيكون عالي جدا وعدد الحالات الكبير لما بنشتغل معاهم بننسى نفسنا وساعات مبناكلش كويس مثلا ومبنهتمش بالتغذية السليمة اللي تدينا الطاقة الكافية اللي نقدر بيها نكمل شغلنا ـ أحيانا ده بيعود على الفرق الطبية عموما وبيأثر على صحتنا بالسلب للأسف لما ناخد عدد نبطشيات كتير دة بيخلينا مرهقين جدا وممكن يأثر على كفائه الشغل نفسه فبنحتاج نفصل أو ناخد بريك يخلينا نشحن طاقتنا تاني عشان نقدر نواصل مسيرة شغفنا واختيارنا للمجال نفسه 🙂

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه الحاجات اللي ممكن تحصل عشان تساعدكم في صحتكم النفسية والجسدية وايه الحاجات اللي لو اتغيرت تخلي شغلكم أحسن؟

أظن ان من أهم الحاجات اللي ممكن تساعدنا في استعادة صحتنا وقوتنا في العمل هو تخفيف عدد النبطشيات في الشغل وتظبيط الاجازات وزيادة عدد العاملين بالمجال وده هيضمن كفاءة عمل كويسة جدا وهيكون سبب في شفاء عدد كتير من المرضى

وهيضمن مستوى صحي بجودة عالية وطبعا لازم يكون في تجديد وعرض لكل ما هو جديد في المجال زي ما حصل قبل كده واخدنا كلنا دورة كيفية السيطرة على الحريق ودي حاجة فعلا كنا محتاجينها جدا

من الحجات المهمة جدا اللي مش كتير واخد باله منها هيا نظرة المجتمع للأطقم الطبية لأن ده بيأثر بنسبة كبيرة جدا على تقديم مستوى أفضل للرعاية الصحية

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: هل بتلاقي وقت في روتين يومك تعملي الحاجات اللي بتحبيها؟

“Great things never come from comfort zones.”

دي عبارة اخدتها كمبدأ في حياتي

ان فعلا الحاجات أو الانجازات العظيمة مش بتيجي أبدا وأنا مريحه وكسلانة

في حاجات أساسية في روتين يومي زي قراءة الكتب مثلا ومشاهدة حلقات ل تيديكس، والتمارين اللي بعملها ف البيت، اختيار الأكل الصحي المناسب ليا

بجانب بقا اني بتعلم لغة جديدة ومؤخرا اكتشفت ان التعليم الالكتروني ممكن فعلا يكون أكثر فاعلية واستفادت منه كتير جدا

 ساعات مثلا أصور صورة حلوة واشيرها مع أصحابي كنوع من أنواع المحافظة على دائرة الصداقة اللي خارج نطاق العمل بتاعي

بعمل مثلا تطوير للمعلومات بتاعتي في مجالي ولو اتعلمت حاجة جديدة مثلا بروح ادور عليها أكتر وأتفرج على فيديوز عنها وأفهمها كويس جدا

 أنا بحاول بكل الأشكال اغير من شخصيتي للأفضل بأخلق وقت لقراية كتاب جديد أو لعمل اكلة جديدة حتى وأنا في المواصلات مثلا

 اهم شيء هو اني أمشي ورا الشغف بتاعي، لأن ده اللي هيخليني أوصل للي أنا عايزاه وهيخليني أنجح وهيفتحلي أبواب كتيرة جدا بالسعي في الطرق دي

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: نصايحك ايه للناس اللي حاسة انها مصابة ومش قادرة تروح المستشفى؟

أول نصيحة هيا الاهتمام بالنظافة الشخصية بتاعتهم والتزام البيوت وعدم الخروج الا للضرورة

غسل الايدين لازم يكون أكتر من مرة في اليوم بعد كل عمل بتعمله ولو خرجت برا البيت لازم تلبس الماسك ويكون معاك كحول ايثيلي 70% سواء جيل أو سبراي واي تعامل مع أوراق مالية أو تعامل شخصي مع اي فرد برا البيت لازم تستخدم الكحول بعدها مع مراعاة المسافة الآمنة بين الافراد

واتمني السلامة للجميع

شكرا جدا يا سلمى على الإخلاص في عملك والمقابلة الصحفية الهامة دي

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Employee

Interview with Sally Khalil – Teacher and Librarian at New Horizon School, USA

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Interviewer: Mahmoud Mansi

“I’ve always wanted to be an actress and students are my beautiful audience who admire my tales with their wide-open eyes and curious questions. I like reading out loud and roleplaying from picture books to the little ones. This is when I know how rewarding it is, just from the happy look in their eyes…”

Sally Khalil
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE

Sally is an ESL teacher, tech and media associate, and librarian at an elementary and middle school in California. She has a BA in English from Alexandria University, Egypt, an MA in English from Chapman University and an MA in Arabic from Middlebury College in California. She worked briefly as a Google rater and shown interest in the tech field and became a Certified Microsoft Administrator in 2004. She has worked as an ESL/ESP teacher for 20 years in different work fields.

THE INTERVIEW

1-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Sally, it is very interesting that you have been through a lot of career experiences that all revolve around “books”, as a learner and an educator and now you work as a Librarian. Do you consider this as a career shift?

Sally Khalil: I sure do think it’s a shift, and I am all the happier because of it. I have always been curious what Americans like to read. There was this huge gap of knowledge that I needed to make up, because I haven’t lived in the US all my life. Now I have a decent idea what children love to read, and I make sure that I have those books in my library. While teaching, I used books as tool. As a librarian, they are my treasures.

2-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What other duties do you do as a school librarian? Do you enjoy them?

Sally Khalil: I read to students aloud from Pre-K to fourth grade when they do their weekly visit to the library. I’ve always wanted to be an actress and they are my beautiful audience who admire my tales with their wide-open eyes and curious questions. I like reading out loud and roleplaying from picture books to the little ones. This is when I know how rewarding it is, just from the happy look in their eyes. I also enjoy choosing books related to the various monthly themes. For example, in February during Black History Month, we read stories about the history and lives of African Americans.

Now the fact that I’ve majored in English literature, it becomes easier for me to do storytelling of a classic story to the older students. Sometimes I show short documentaries or scenes related to a book. They totally appreciate that and love their competitive spirit when they attempt to quickly answer the questions.

3-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: In your current role, you have led a couple of projects which include book fairs. How did you prepare yourself for these projects? What were your challenges and how you assured it was a success?

Sally Khalil: My school hosts a book fair every year. When they told me that I had to contact a certain book fair company to set up a book fair, I panicked. I’ve never done that before. Luckily, another teacher, who had worked previously as a librarian, provided help and suggestions. Things went smoothly soon after, and the book company came with several transportable bookshelves organized by genre. The students and teachers were able to purchase books for themselves and their classrooms.

Another challenge was the fact that I’ve always been a teacher since graduating college and have never worked a cash register job in my life. But during the fair, I had to learn quickly the first day. And thank God I did because the book fair was a big success. Depending on the company, the book company gives a certain percentage of the profits that you make selling their books and allows you to select books for your library for free. Because of my efforts, the school made a good profit that hadn’t happened in years. I felt proud and accomplished. Then the school made me arrange and host a mini-book fair for only one day. I thought it was going to be impossible to achieve any success, but it was another big one with another profit. I think I have a hidden talent in marketing.

4-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: It is not usual to have an ESL teacher who works in tech and media. How does it feel to be working in an area a bit far from your expertise? What are your duties as a tech support in school? Were they affected by Covid-19?

Sally Khalil: Sometimes it feels challenging but I’m a fast learner. Luckily, I am patient, and I love doing troubleshooting. As a young kid, I used to fix our VCR, cassette recorder, my uncle’s PC and even my friends’ laptops all the time. I think I was destined to be doing that type of technical work one day. As for my duties, it is basically setting up laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks, installing security settings, troubleshooting, and doing inventory. I also teach Computer basics and office. My tech supervisor has always been very supportive, because she understands the many different responsibilities I have to juggle. She always fixes what I can’t fix. My duties changed a little bit as we switched to online learning. Teachers would report the students’ technical issues. I would give them a call and try my best to help, something like Vodafone customer service in Egypt.

5-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How has Covid-19 affected your job as a librarian and a teacher?

Sally Khalil: I’m sure that it affected all teachers everywhere. The school closed, so my role as librarian temporarily came to an end. As a teacher, I applaud for my school supervisors who organized the remote learning process and always kept teachers and parents updated. The school faculty did a great job providing the same quality education online. The teachers and students worked hard to make sure everything works despite some technical issues that the students encountered. Beside uploading assignments, we had online Zoom sessions. We had to submit weekly assignments, fill in the pacing guide for the rest of the academic year and the learning gaps if there are any affected by the online work.

6-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How are the American students different than the Egyptian students?

Sally Khalil: They’re basically the same. Most of American students are of an Arab origin, and they are the most adorable well-behaved students. I consider myself lucky teaching them. I’ve had similar exciting experiences teaching Egyptian students. What I noticed is the authority of teachers in US is different than in Egypt, that is it is not accepted that the teacher has a complete authority over them.

7-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Last but not least, we would love to take some “reading tips” from a librarian.

Sally Khalil: I would have started by saying visit your local public library, but it is not an option now. Use technology to your advantage. There are many free e-books. You can also rent or buy from Amazon and read on Kindle. Listen to audiobooks through audibles and iBooks. Now there is much time staying at home, this is the perfect time to commit to reading by dedicating a certain time for reading every day. Joining a book club will also motivate you to read.

THANK YOU SALLY

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