Why the classroom
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Why the classroom

How Terrorism made me Drop Everything for Education

To Quentin,

I had everything a 20 years old can dream of. I was graduating from the same school Emmanuel Macron went to and had many jobs offers in my e-mail box. The dream of every moroccan living in Paris, France and looking to have the “good life.”

I had to work hard to cover fees. Usually more than my French counterparts, doing side jobs, buying and selling hardware, teaching classes and even with all that I barely could cover my very high tuition and my Parisian rent. My parents are not wealthy and divorced, so I had to hustle by myself.

Looking to the sacrifice it represents, my family and entourage wanted me to apply for French Citizenship after I graduate, find a nicely paid job and settle. Under pressure, I could not decide between doing what I wanted and doing what the society told me was right to do.

Fate decided for me.

When I was working as a Coms guy at l’Oréal, I was at the climax of what I imagined a “good life” could be. My money related issues were a thing of the past. My team was awesome and the work was interesting. I was living with my girlfriend in a two bedroom appartement. I was awakened everyday by her kisses or by Gustave, the cat we named after our favorite Austrian painter, walking on my chest. I was happy, but can’t say that I was fulfilled by what I had. The stability actually scared me. I knew I was not ment to settle but I was feeling confortable. I needed to get hit by a brick.

It happened Friday the 13th of November 2015. When one of my friends and colleagues, 29 years old and who just got married did not come back to the office on Monday morning. At the Bataclan, his soul and body were taken by terrorists who were Moroccans like me.

Pray for Paris ©Benjamin Regnier

After this, I could not take the metro every morning. I could not stand the stable-confortable-life I had with my girlfriend. I could not work for someone else, just for social validation and a full bank account. I could not stay in France anymore, just for a new passport and the right to ask for a credit. When it happened, I felt a void within myself and surrounding me. I had to act, to feel alive again.

I realized once again that I only have one life. That I have to make it count. I have also heard more hate speech and noticed changing look in the eyes of other people towards me. I grew up telling myself that the west was where freedom, fraternity and equality flourished but I saw them fade little by little.

It it’s no one’s fault.

We are lucky, we all live in a planet where there are multiple cultures, many ways to party, have fun and love and different means to learns. But our survival instincts in our reptilian cortex betray us too often. As human beings, we have not evolved enough not to be scared by the others. So today, we are a species that can send BigFuckingRockets® to Mars, but that is still not able to walk the earth as brothers and sisters.

Education allows us to travel into other cultures and practices. It helps open the mind on the different existing possibilities of being human. But moreover it provides the means to create and exist in peace.

With education, people can finally learn why they should love one another.

as Hafiz puts it :

“There Is a Wonderful Game

There is a game we should play,
And it goes like this:

We hold hands and look into each other’s eyes
And scan each other’s face.

Then I say,
“Now tell me a difference you see between us.”

And you might respond,
“Hafiz, your nose is ten times bigger than mine!”

Then I would say;
“Yes, my dear, almost ten times!”

But let’s keep playing.
Let’s go deeper,
Go deeper.
For if we do,
Our spirits will embrace
And interweave.

Our union will be so glorious
That even God
Will not be able to tell us apart.

There is a wonderful game
We should play with everyone
And it goes like this . . .”

I then realised that peace is to be built in the mind of the people. I have found the meaning to my existence here on earth. I have looked for it in libraries, Universities and in my meditations under the milkyway of the African deserts.

In the dunes I have been singing : “Imidiwan ma tennam dagh awa dagh enha semmen
Tenere den tas-tennam enta dagh wam toyyam teglam”

I have decided to dedicate my life to creating a more fraternal world by providing equal and universal access to education.

It will be a long and difficult journey, but I can’t stand to hear hate speech anymore. I can’t accept children being manipulated to violence and fundamentalism. I don’t want my children to live in a world where borders exist in the minds.

My vision is of a world where we all realize that we are brothers and sisters travelling in the same interstellar journey, working happily for a future that we accept to probably never see.

Negative hand, grotte de Chauvet, ©UNESCO

Today 263 million children are out of school. For them, I created LAWLA, a non-profit that puts ubiquitous innovations of the edtech sector into the hands of those who need them most.

Great time with Moulay Abdellah studets — Morocco © Soufiane LEMQARI

In these mobile rich but bookpoor environments, edtech is the only hope.

You can also read this article in french here

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Soufiane

Soufiane

Educator— Writer — Globetrotter — Family Man — UC Berkeley — SciencesPo Alumni — Stoic