ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — Where I am from, when someone is really grateful they put their hands on their hand on their heart then move it put to their head in a gesture that looks like a salute. The reason behind this is because just saying thank you alone will sometimes not express the extent with which something or someone has touched another’s heart and mind.
Youth Journalism International gets this beautiful gesture from my home in Egypt and tens of other traditional ways of saying thank you from all over the world with every new blog entry it posts.
Personally, I cannot remember my life before YJI, although it was not far back. It isn’t very exciting remembering when my opinions were only thoughts no one else can hear in my head. My views were overlooked and rarely respected. My words reached no one past my friends who still thought I was crazy for wanting the world to hear me.
But Youth Journalism International heard me and let my voice echo out into the rest of the world through the miracle of blogs and web sites.
Most people my age have something to say but because they know it is worthles; they seem to have nothing, walking empty-headed in the streets.
The truth is YJI saved my life.
It showed me that I, like all youth, have respectable thoughts that when put in writing are priceless.
Even before the revolution, YJI gave me freedom and allowed me to criticize, condemn and praise what I saw around me.
Although my ideas were oppressed in school, I came home to a website and community of people just like me despite our different nations and traditions.
The people behind YJI are the most pure forms of human kindness. They are such motivating and full-of-life individuals that stood by me when my nation was experiencing the most difficult of times, calling on a daily basis during the revolution to get my voice over to the other end of the world and just comforting me that they stand by our struggle and that freedom was soon to come. And it did.
Now with a more fearless nation, more youth are going to be searching for a place to be heard.
One by one, Egyptians look to YJI.
So, thank you with my hand on my heart to the organization that made me feel like something because I am.
Thank you, YJI, for being the microphone I use to be heard in such a noisy world.
Thank you, for connecting me to such an amazing group of people that made me realize that the world is much smaller and more related to each other than we think.
I am a braver, stronger person because I am part of YJI and I will forever make sure that no matter where or what life throws at me, I will stay loyal to the organization that taught me to be loyal to myself.
Jessica Elsayed is a Senior Reporter from Egypt for Youth Journalism International.
Thanks for being involved, Jessica! This brought tears to my eyes.