For Yasser

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 59 seconds

Dear Yasser

I’m so sorry we lost touch. And I just found out a few hours ago that I will never have an opportunity to reconnect with you, because you left life on this earth around 3 months ago. I’m so sorry that I did not know, that I was not there for you, that I did not get a chance to say goodbye. But I wanted you to know that your legacy lives on. I have not spoken to you in several years, but you have influenced me in so many ways over the years, and I wanted to highlight a couple of them.

But first, I just wanted to say that I had so many flashbacks of our time together on earth. We met at university and you were this multi-talented example of a well-rounded person that everyone should look up to. You sang, in Arabic and in English. You were an intellectual, a great conversationalist, very cultured yet very humble, and really smart but also extremely warm and kind. We met in MUN, we worked together as volunteers in the career office helping others … and you were also an engineer. And you were a reader and a writer. Not many engineers are all that. And then we worked together at Procter & Gamble Egypt and we volunteered together to make Egypt better at Nahdet el Mahrousa… and we stayed in touch with our friends from the career office and continued to know each other.

Two huge memories stand out: you were the person who convinced me to read First Things First by Steven Covey. I remember it was Dareen’s birthday party and for some reason we were sitting and others were dancing and you called it not a time management book, but a life management book. You lent it to me the next week and it changed my life. I learned about Hacking a mission in life and letting it be my compass, and I learned about “live, love, learn, and leave a legacy”. And you have left a legacy in so many ways, many I don’t even know. But your legacy for me is that you helped me find my mission in life, which helped me realize I did not want to work in corporate IT and I wanted to move to education. That book helped me make a huge career shift and I have never looked back. I left corporate and moved to education. My mission in life included continuing to learn and teach others and this is what my teaching work is, what my writing is. That book also taught me about the importance/urgency matrix and I now realize I have not taught that to my students and i will. I will also teach them the live, love, learn, leave a legacy part. It is never too early. I will teach it to my 10 year old child from now, too.

Speaking of legacies, and that writing is one of my ways of leaving a legacy? You helped me start to figure out how to leave mine, later in my career, when I was finishing my PhD and starting to publish I wrote Critical Citizenship for Critical Times in English and I was not happy with the original translation Al Fanar made, and you translated it for me. You understood what I was trying to say because you knew me, and your translation was miles better than the generic one. Because you were talented, yes, but also because you got to the heart of what I was trying to say, and helped express it in Arabic in ways I understand but could not create on my own. Whenever I talk to my students about translation again, I will tell them this story. This article, Yasser, is one in 2013 but one of the things I am proudest of in my life, and your Arabic translation of it is a huge part of its meaningfulness and success.

And you know what, I am going to resolve right now to so my best to improve my own Arabic writing and help my child improve her Arabic, too. To follow in your footsteps.

I sent messages to your dear wife and dear sister today, when I found out. I noticed my last message to your wife was about this article. I checked your facebook page and was reminded of how many common friends we share. I can’t bring myself to check our own last interactions together. Until we meet again, my friend, I hope you are somewhere at peace, and know that even if I don’t mention your name every day, your presence is there in so many steps I take… and I am sure I am not the only one you have impacted this way.

Love, Maha

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