Tuesday, April 30, 2013

AIESEC Egypt - My bad experience with AIESEC Cairo University's local committee

Not the AIESEC way at all

How i got to know AIESEC
I was introduced to AIESEC through one of my friends who went on an internship with them and during that time i was starting to believe that it's time for me to start having some international experience and to travel abroad to see a different culture through a big organization that has many followers across the world.So i signed up with AIESEC through my LC (local committee) which was the one in Cairo university in June 2011, they asked me to pay EP fees (exchange participant) to be able to get my profile on myaiesec.net and start the matching process. They explained that these fees are used to fund housing for the interns that will come to Egypt and that they don't make any kind of profit. I paid the fees which back then were 1000 EGP and i got matched to the LC in Kiev, Ukraine

My internship in Ukraine

My trip in Ukraine with AIESEC was amazing and the local committee in Kiev treated me very well ensuring that i enjoyed my stay there and ensuring i experienced the Ukrainian culture in the best way, then they asked me to stay for two more internships because they knew i liked it there and because i was doing a good job so i contacted AIESEC Cairo university and i informed them about what i intend to do. They agreed and advised me to send another 2000 EGP for two more internships.

How the conflict started
I sent the money with my brother, we signed the contracts online and got everything ready and that's when i was informed by AIESEC Kiev that they canceled one of the programs so i was only needed for 1 internship and not 2 which was frustrating but it didn't really matter since i was planning to go somewhere else and i knew i already paid for the extra membership and that i have this on my record to use anytime.
I worked with AIESEC Kiev on the new program they had and then went back to Cairo where i was surprised to find that they removed me from their system and they moved my profile to AIESEC 6th of October LC. I started to contact the person i was in touch with (Aly Adel) and he referred me to AIESEC 6th of October. I contacted them and they said they don't know anything about me. It took about 6 months of 2 sided correspondence via E-mails and phone calls and eventually we got back square one where they don't believe i paid 1000 extra although i sent the contract and the Email conversations i had with Aly as an evidence. 

Getting in touch with AIESEC Egypt office
at this point i was fed up and i decided to take this issue higher up in the hierarchy so i contacted AIESEC Egypt and to be honest i was expecting a lot and i asked for a refund since this was the fault of AIESEC and not me. they denied my request and offered to put me back on the system and i decided not to complicate the issue so I agreed to just get my form back on the system and that's when i was asked to pay an extra 500 EGP because the prices changed. I flipped out informing them that it wasn't my fault in the first place that it took them this long to fix a simple problem and that's when they ignored me completely and informed me that i need to go to the office to discuss with them. 
By this time i was already working in China so i explained my situation informing them how i can't physically come to their office in Maadi and offered to arrange for a skype meeting instead. at this point i was in touch with two people from AIESEC Egypt Omar Younes who was the national director of Outgoing Community Development Program 2012-2013 and Tarek Ashraf Attia who was a member committee president. 
Since i offered the skype meeting i haven't heard back from any of them since the 20th of January 2013.
Needles to mention the sort of treatment i received and the unprofessional replies to my e-mails but I could understand that considering that AIESEC is completely run by students who don't really do anything but party and travel (no generalizations here...some of them are really professional)

Getting in touch with AIESEC international
 Again i decided to take my issue one step higher in the hierarchy and I tried to contact AIESEC international through Facebook, Twitter and Email but never received a reply for any of my complaints. My experience with AIESEC was terrible and it made me forget about the good times I had in Ukraine or anything else good I experienced with them. To be frank the 1000 EGP they owe me is not that much but it's all about the way I got treated and their failure to sort out a simple issue I had....most probably this happened with others as well and they decided to forget about it but i just can't.  I hope at some point i will get my money back or even my form will be uploaded again and if not i don't care, because after all i experienced with that big international organization I lost any kind of respect and sympathy towards them.

If you had a similar experience tell me your story or comment here...maybe we can do something about it.

{Update} 02/05/2013 - I received comments on my Google+ profile from 2 AIESECers who are willing to sit down and talk to try to sort out my issue...I'm glad some people care. I will post updates here.

{Update} 07/05/2013 - I met yesterday with AIESEC Cairo university LC president Abdelrahman Ayman who was very professional and respectful, although it's not his fault this issue happened in the first place and he had no hand in it, he took ownership of my problem and we discussed it...I'm waiting for a reply from him to go take a refund.

{Update} 16/05/2013 - According to Abdelrahman's instructions I called Mostafa Turkey and we agreed to meet in AIESEC Cairo university's office in Agouza....i met with Mostafa and he's very professional as well and he was apologizing all the same although it wasn't his or Abdelrahman's fault and they refunded me the full amount....at this point i realized that there are people who care and are responsible enough not even to right their own wrongs but to right the wrongs of others.....they solved a problem that took more than 1 year in only 10 days....I'm very thankful and grateful for both of them because i know without them i would have never gotten anything done.


Friday, April 26, 2013

3aros el sham - a new oriental Syrian experience in Cairo عروس الشام - مطعم سورى جديد فى القاهره

Last weekend my American friend told me about a new Syrian restaurant/cafe that just opened in Cairo and he insisted i should try it.
I followed my friend's advice and we went there Thursday's evening, the place looked normal from the outside and it was nothing too fancy.
When we ordered the food we waited for a long time to get our meal which was annoying and gave a bad impression about the place and that's when we started blaming my friend but then we got the food and our impression changed.
The food was amazing...it represents the Syrian cuisine the best representation possible in Cairo and the prices were not expensive at all....4 people were eating and each paid around 25 EGP in the end.
worth mentioning as well is the amazing service...apart from taking a long time to prepare the food, the staff were really helpful, cheerful and so polite and they had this welcoming smile on their faces the whole time we were there...it wasn't only the fake smile you get in any other restaurant, it was a sincere smile that showed how much these people like their job and how much they like the guests to be there.

After we were done with the food we decided to sit downstairs to smoke some shisha and have some tea and that was a good decision because outside there was a man playing all the oriental classics from Umm Kulthum and Abdel Halim Hafez on Oud.
People were singing along and the atmosphere was amazing just sitting down chilling with the oriental traditional music, the nice breeze of Cairo, shisha and tea.

I will definitely go back to othis place because the whole experience was different and original in a way that made me decide to write about that place and recommend it to everyone i know. 

Worth mentioning that the singer with the Oud plays on Saturdays  Mondays and Thursdays from  8 or 8:30 pm till 12:00 am

The restaurant is behind Bank Masr in Falaki square near Tahrir square.

Find details on foursquare here: http://adf.ly/NqvK4


A reliable free proxy service to use against the Chinese GFW - VPN for China

Because i believe in freedom and i'm all against censorship i decided to start searching for free VPN services or proxy servers to use while in China so i can still be in touch with what's going on in the world 
It's just frustrating to not be able to check Facebook and to lose my connections with my friends back home.
I have to agree that renren for example is a huge website that might be as powerful as Facebook but for me as an expat living in China it's useless as can be.
it's not really about Facebook or YouTube or twitter or any of these websites...it's a matter of principal that i can't be free to access the information i want or download the content i want when i want 
this frustration led me to start searching for solutions to be able to surpass the censorship

as far as i know it is not illegal and i have never seen anyone persecuted for using a proxy but you never know.

so I came across this VPN program on one of the Chinese forums, it's really fast and reliable and i decided to share it here for all the people suffering with China's great firewall and it's censorship.

It doesn't really require a lot of effort to set up and it's completely free of charge 
The VPN program is all in Chinese but it's as easy as clicking a button to connect and the same one to disconnect again.
I tried it on windows 8 but i get certification errors on the browser but with any other previous version of Windows it works flawlessly 
I've included in the folder .Net framework because you need to install it before this VPN can run
There are also some instructions but they are all in Chinese.

This proxy server will enable you to access all the blocked sites in China like Facebook, YouTube  Twitter and blogs.

You can download the program from the link below


If you require any assistance setting it up please let me know and i will guide you.
Also if you know of any other VPN services that are free you can comment here so people behind the great firewall of China can use it.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lenovo P770 - Hands on

Lenovo P770

This is a good budget Chinese phone which is available in most of the shops in China
The specifications are pretty decent compared to its price
I would recommend this phone to anyone who wants to have the Android experience without having to pay a fortune for a phone (a Samsung or a Motorola)
The main problem i found with most of the Chinese phones in the market is that they don't have the play store and it can't be installed except by changing the ROM completely which will be a big deal if you get a phone that's not available outside of China and if you are not familiar with the basics of flashing ROMS and rooting. (refer to XDA-developers website if you want to learn)
Another issue is the bloatware preloaded into the device which contains a lot of Chinese apps that don't prove useful for non-Chinese.
However with a price like that (1399.00) I would definitely go for it*

*This price was found on Taobao the Chinese online shopping website, you can check the link below:


ESL in China: be careful from all the bad agencies out there

When i first arrived in China i had a contract with an agency there to go and teach English.
Before i booked my flight ticket i checked everything with them: i checked where exactly i will stay, what level i will be teaching, i checked how many hours i will work and how much the salary would be (which is always a tempting salary) and I made sure i had a contract that is fair enough for me and for them.
As it turns out later most of these agencies don't really care about the contract because they know that once you are in China you are just an individual against an evil mafia (yes i like to call them mafias) because most of them have connections with people in the government ("Guanxi" which means relations in Chinese) as well as some police officers and lawyers on payroll.
So once you arrive in China everything becomes so different with horrible treatment and broken promises you find out that you paid an expensive flight just to arrive and live in a small room that stinks and you teach more hours than you were promised and not getting your full salary because they always find a reason to deduct some money.....that's of course in case they were kind enough to give you work in the first place.
And then you realize that there's nothing to do and that in the end they win because you wasted so much time and money trusting their promises and working for them while they make the big bucks and you are just stuck with them because you can't change your Visa without a release letter from them.

My advice to you here if you get a job offer in China teaching ESL (English as a second language) or Maths or whatever you were promised is that you should forget about the contract itself and forget about the promises they make....you just need to focus on finding reviews and maybe contacts from the teachers that worked for them previously.....you can even ask the agency for contacts of teachers and do your best to find information about the agency and how they treat their teachers and whether they will let you go if anything goes wrong.

I always say that an agency that easily provides their teachers with the release letter are a good one because they don't try to force you to stay with them in very bad conditions.

Later on i'm planning to post the details of what i experienced in China and how i found a way out of this and i will also provide some useful links to guides you should read and articles from teachers in china who had bad experiences so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Feel free to contact me with any information you need regarding this topic.

Did you have a bad experience with a certain teaching agency in China? if yes please let me know in the comments to raise awareness.

ESL teaching in China