Where Anissa is from
What was your dream when you were a kid? What was the reason?
I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’m not sure I do now. I had an affinity to the sciences but I also enjoyed literature.
I had a lot of curiosity to learn about different subjects and pursue any one of them as a “temporary career” until I try something new. I don’t think I would be satisfied doing the same thing my whole life.
What was your dream when you were 18 years old? What was the reason?
At 18, I was still in high school and too busy with silly things to think of a career but I knew it would involve travel and discovery.
At 19, I had to make a decision for college and I made the practical choice of biology as a prequel to dentistry. That didn’t turn out well.
What made you start thinking about social entrepreneurship/social enterprises? When was that?
Even though I was always undecided on my career, I had an idea that it would include two things in my free time: social work and additional education (and maybe a retirement flower shop, but that’s beyond the point).
So I was always determined to participate in improving the world in some way. After working at a dental office for a couple of years, I felt that I couldn’t waste so much of my life doing what I think I needed to do before I could do what I wanted to do which made me look for different career options.
I considered a job in aid but growing up in Lebanon showed me how inefficient, bureaucratic and discriminatory aid could be. Additional research led me to social entrepreneurship and I applied to the MSE program at Hult in the summer of 2015.
How much do you think social entrepreneurs play an important role in the world?
I cannot say for sure that social entrepreneurship is the solution the world needs. Adam Smith once thought capitalism is that solution and some fellow or group once thought it was aid. We now know they were both wrong.
Social entrepreneurship is one way to utilize the system we are dependent on in everybody’s favor. It is a concept that is worth a try. It is our responsibility to ensure it remains ethical and true to its intention and our duty to recognize its deficiencies and correct for them.
What would you say to future social entrepreneurs / those who are interested in social entrepreneurs?
Social entrepreneurship is interesting, fun and rewarding but it is more than a sexy career choice. Social entrepreneurship could also be taxing: you will face hurdles of entry and distractions to your perseverance; and you will learn of many injustices that could become a burden.
Don’t worry about perfection, no one person can do it all but we can all do it together.
What is your favorite quote? Who said that quote?
So many people said so many smart things. I will give three quotes that were directly relevant to this year of MSE.
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” –Mahatma Gandhi (used this in my application)
“Global crises is like broccoli: a small piece still looks like broccoli but it’s easier to eat” –Marysia Grabowska (a great way to approach tedious tasks)
“As a child, you are really YOLO” –Marysia Grabowska (one mustn’t forget to enjoy the moment)
Who Anissa is
I think that Anissa has the most beautiful smile among our classmates. In addition, she is clever. How can I tell? I can remember so many examples that show how clever she is, but one thing specific that I will deliver to you is that she is good at jokes. Only smart and clever people can tell good jokes that make others laugh. Joke, joke, joke, Anissa loves including good jokes in conversations and they always work.
Oh, and one other thing. There was a presentation day at a class at Hult and one team could not finish their presentation in time. The professor was very strict about the timing so they moved to Q&A session. Some of our classmates asked questions about the presentation, but Anissa suddenly raised her hand and asked, “what would have said if you had kept giving a presentation?” The last presenter Alexa was so happy when she took the “question” and she finished her lines. That was one of the moments that I was impressed by Anissa.
Furthermore, I cannot talk about Anissa without mentioning this: Anissa was the graduation speaker on behalf of our Master of Social Entrepreneurship program at graduation. It was such a beautiful and touching speech. Here is what she said on the stage.
“Welcome to the end of this crazy year. It went by so fast. It’s too bad nobody warned us in the beginning. I came to San Francisco partly to redeem myself from my undergrad, but mostly in a quest for positive change. I wanted to give it the time and attention it requested, and Hult’s Entrepreneurship Master’s program: it’s a special kind of program. It’s a program for entrepreneurs who don’t just want to make money, but also want to make an impact. And we call it the MSE.
I expected a rigorous Master’s program, but what I got was a whirlwind of discovery and adventure. And during my discoveries, I found myself. And I found myself in others, in friends who selflessly give themselves, who embrace their vulnerabilities, challenge their weaknesses, and expand their limits. Friends who brilliantly balance work, relationships, and having a hella time. I found myself in my family. I discovered that no distance is too great a separator. With their relentless love and support, their memory of home is a very strong pillar to lean on for comfort and for strength. Thanks mom!
I found myself in a community of like-minded, hard-headed, willful and passionate individuals who have an inflated sense of responsibility towards themselves, their families, the communities of the world, and the planet. But more than that, a community that cares for each other genuinely.
And I’m not just saying that: I can prove it. During the Hult Prize regionals, as the winners were being announced, the atmosphere was dense with anticipation, relief, and pride. And it was so loud with cheers, applause and screeching screaming. But for a moment it was quiet and slow. And in that moment, I looked around the room and I saw fellow MSEs and Hultians tear up for their friends and involuntarily well up with emotion. In that moment I realized that I’m part of a community that is genuine beyond doubt, and I was overwhelmed with appreciation of being there.
To the MSEs I say thank you. And for everybody else, I say find an MSE, get to know an MSE. I promise you will not regret it. We are changing in our definition of who we are and we need to constantly remind ourselves what we need to do to sleep well at night. But we are not without guidance. We have our values and our shared values that have greatly expanded, thanks to our international peers. We have a network of great knowledge, talent, experience, and our mentors, our teachers, and our friends. My message to you is don’t worry about taking on the world. Instead, find a small part of the planet and turn it, in your own way, into something sane and decent. And in the years to come, we will have a lot of work and struggles. But we will also have happiness. Let’s not forget to recognize it and to enjoy it. Thank you and congratulations to all. Live long and prosper.”
Anissa made us feel special with her magical way with words.
As I mentioned in Amogh’s blog, some of us traveled to Maui, Hawaii, last April. As I also shared, they brought me there by each contributing to my plane ticket, so I wanted to give them presents to show my appreciation. What came to my mind was postcards and bracelets.
When I found nice postcards at a cafe and was standing in line to buy them, Anissa came to me, asking “What are you buying?” And, after seeing what I was holding, “Why are you buying so many cards?” It was supposed to be a surprise plan so I just answered “These are for my parents, relatives and friends.” I was like “Whew!” after she left. On another day, when I was looking for cool bracelets in a store, Anissa found me, came to me and asked, “What are you looking for?” Again, it was an another secret…so I thought, “Are you kidding me!? Are you sniffing out my real intentions or something!?” That is a super power that Anissa possess.
The Power of MSE
What Anissa is holding is a symbol called “go-en(ご縁)”, which means ‘fate’, ’destiny’ and ’special tie.’
I believe that it is meant to be that we met in San Francisco! I studied Social Entrepreneurship with Anissa for a year, saying “We will make the world a better place.” I would love to spend the rest of my life with MSEs (Master of Social Entrepreneurship; my classmates) until the very day I die. They have already completely changed my life.
At the same time, however, I also think that we should not be together all the time, because that is not the reason why we learned Social Entrepreneurship. That is not how we will deliver the impact we want to give to society and to the world.
I think MSEs are like dandelions. We were seeded at the first day at Hult and we bloomed on our graduation day. Our mission is that we spread all over the world like dandelions and seed the future, the next generation, from each place where each of us has landed.
本当にありがとう(Honto ni Arigato-); Thank you very very much for everything!! The world needs you! Let’s make the world a better place together!!