Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Winning in Alexandria's Churches Festival for Preparatory Stage

Today, the final party and awards ceremony for Alexandria's Churches Festival for Preparatory Stage was held at the St. Mark Cathedral in Raml Station..

I was soooo surprised my girls from Sunday School at St. Takla church won second place in "alhan" (Coptic Hymns) and beat lots of very strong teams (boys and girls) .. It was unexpected, their team consisted of 10 girls and there were a lot of other teams who exceeded them in number. So it totally shook me and made me so happy...

That's why I am writing this post.. To share what I've learnt from this experience..

This taste of success has taught me a lot of things.. it's the first time I win something for the girls at the festival , and it's not actually 'my' success, but it's theirs, and in spite of that, I am sooo happy, even more than they are!!! Because It makes me feel proud of the seed I planted when I see it grew to be a fruitful tree..

I had a tough time teaching them those hymns for almost two months or more during summer 2008, I insisted that they learn them, even if we couldn't join the festival. The hymns were hard, the girls had trouble being on time and attending all the sessions, so by the time when we should sit for the hymns test, we weren't 100% ready, so we killed ourselves, by working for hours til our voices went off :)

It's not just that I proved more to myself how perseverance is so important, but also I saw so intensely the hands of God in our lives.. I didn't plan to win, didn't look forward to it, though I wished it so hard.. However, I realized that God sees what beyond our thinking.. He sees our actions and hard work and is so generous..Most importantly, He sees OUR FAITH ...

In life, sometimes we think we're unfortunate for a certain time, this doesn't mean God has forgotten about us.. If we just wait for a while, we can see (like I did) how generous He is..

I had a lot of hard times this summer, bad moods, but just in one single week, lots of good things happened to me, I was "overburdened" with happiness and I experienced a lot of moments of success..

Success is sweet, it makes us feel paid off.. It pushes us forward to do more, and keeps us close to God, who always watches over us and gives us, not all what we want, but all what we NEED.

Thanks to Him :)

"I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. "
(Psalms 40:1)

اِنْتِظَاراً انْتَظَرْتُ الرَّبَّ فَمَالَ إِلَيَّ وَسَمِعَ صُرَاخِي -- مزامير 40 : 1

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Microsoft Student Partner (MSP)

August 25th 2008, I received an email at 3:25 p.m. saying I have been chosen as a

Microsoft Student Partner (MSP)

I realize that very few people know what this thing is all about.. so I thought I'd write some stuff about the MSP programme..

First of all, it's such a great honour for any computer science/engineering student to become an MSP.. this is probably the biggest and the most important extracurricular activity anyone would want to do while being an undergraduate student.

Being an MSP helps us get the most out of Microsoft tools and technologies and gives us a head start in the 'real world' once we graduate and enter the industry.

The MSP program details as quoted from are:

"The Microsoft Student Partner (MSP) Programme is an annual award that recognizes students who have made outstanding contributions to the student technical community. We reward and recognize the most talented students from universities across Egypt for their dedication, passion and involvement with Microsoft each academic year.

If you are passionate about technology, ready to share your knowledge and want to develop skills outside your field of study, we want to hear from you."

I would also like to quote some words Microsoft wrote in the MSP application this year, that would help show what being an MSP is all about..

Overview of the Microsoft Students Partner program

If your application is successful, you will be awarded Student Partner status. During this time you can refer to yourself as a Microsoft Student Partner and act as an official representative of Microsoft at your university.

Being an MSP demands dedication. We encourage every MSP to undertake many activities and numerous voluntary activities throughout the year which are designed to suit everyone's level of ability and creativity. Activities range from giving technical lectures on campus, writing articles for the student newsletter to entering the Imagine Cup or running your own computer society.

You'll be part of the amazing Egyptian MSPs team, with lots of opportunities to learn, plan, interact with students from different universities and countries and help other students in Egypt realizing their full potential and having fun. Microsoft Egypt will recognize your efforts and each activity you undertake.

Who can apply?

In order to be eligible for the award, you must be:
• Over 18
• An undergraduate or post-graduate student at an eligible university
• Technical reps: Studying a full-time computer science-related degree or course and able to name a reference from your department or Microsoft.
• Passionate about technology and willing to share your expertise with others at your school

There are currently 2 MSPs at Alexandria University, my colleague Ahmed Fathy, and myself, and we're both Junior students at the Computer and Systems Engineering Department at the Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University. There was also Amr Magdy but he graduated this year.

There're usually around 2 or 3 MSPs from each university from all over Egypt. Yes, this is such a small number, so that Microsoft wouldn't lose focus and attention on their MSPs, and it's their concept that they want the MSPs to be the seeds of any activity done in that university.. So after all, this number would do the job required perfectly. In general, the number of MSPs worldwide is around 1445 or some more, representing 104 countries and regions.

Ok, so how have I become an MSP? I applied through an application and had an interview afterwards at the Microsoft Building in the Smart Village. Then, 3 weeks later, I got a confirmation email of my acceptance.

The application had questions like the following:

- Are you involved in any technology related societies at your University?
- How would you describe your relationship with your computer science faculty?
- Have you ever attended a technical event, workshop or exhibition outside of those within your academic requirements?
- Are you comfortable presenting to a range of audience sizes?
- How would you approach the challenge of encouraging students to use and adopt technology within your department?


I still didn't get my business card as an MSP ;) but I will post all the details as soon as I get started with any activities as the new MSP :)

Look out for more posts and photos as well ;)