Priit Tohver in North Africa
Volunteering “Post revolution” project in North Africa
My name is Priit Tohver I am a student of history and international relations from Estonia currently residing in Sfax, Tunisia. When what is now dubbed the Arab Spring first broke out at the end of last year, I didn’t know a single thing about modern day Egypt or Tunisia aside from what I’d heard from tourists. I only heard about the Tunisian revolution after the fact, but given its opportune timing, found myself completely gripped by the Egyptian one. On the 28th of January I happened upon an Al Jazeera live feed from Tahrir Square, which ultimately is the reason I am here today. From late January until the early days of April, I was there, all day every day, watching the Arab revolutions as they unfolded. Hence when I saw the advert in June inviting me to “discover the world”, and when what little charm and spirit I could muster landed me an opportunity to go on foreign exchange, I of course saw in it the opportunity to finally be there, physically as well as mentally, where so much of what had inspired me in the past six months had taken place. And within a few days of searching I found myself accepted to participate in the Let’s Dream project, to deal with various issues in the post-revolutionary states of Egypt and Tunisia.
So far it’s been an interesting ride. I’ve given soft skills workshops to youths in Egypt, whose unyielding enthusiasm for something as simple as a team building exercise was a wonderful surprise to me, and I’ve participated in discussions related to the revolutions, which have unveiled to me the power lines of a state in flux. I’ve also had the opportunity to see and experience the inexhaustible wealth of culture in the two Maghreb countries, but most importantly for me, I’ve been to Tahrir Square.
Given the slight security risk, the Egyptian LC couldn’t arrange for any activities in the world renowned square, where protests had once again erupted at the beginning of July, but that didn’t in any way stop me from going there on my own initiative. Because an exchange really is what you make of it, and for me, it was all about seeing the ongoing revolution. I was there nearly every day talking to the protesters, providing them with water and gathering their views. I saw everything which I had thus far only seen on television from the infamous Qasr al-Nil bridge to the medical centre, which had saved so many lives during the hectic winter events. And in that, what had thus far only been a dream or a digital apparition had suddenly become a reality, the memory of which I can cherish for the rest of my life, and I am deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to make it happen.