By AMENAH ABOU WARD
Green Hands hosted their first festival on Saturday March 3 at the AUC New Cairo Campus, with the slogan “Go Green, Go Local.” The event was attended by local speakers, designers, caterers, and musicians.
Established only two years ago, Green Hands is an AUC-based, student-run organization that aims “to solve the environmental issues in Egypt like littering, CO2 emissions, and lack of greenery,” according to their mission statement.
Their main goals include “improv[ing] the environment in Egypt and reduc[ing] pollution, as well as produc[ing] a future generation that cares for its environment and actively contributes to its improvement.”
Despite a slightly rough start due to a technical delay, the day kicked off with an inspiring speech given by AUC professor Dr. Richard Hoath, senior instructor in the department of rhetoric and composition as well as administrator of the core seminar, about the importance of our environment and the roles of organizations like Green Hands in preserving it. Professor Hoath highlighted the significance of eco-awareness and our duties towards the environment.
Shortly afterwards, El-Zabaleen, a band composed of AUC students and alumni who have been ritually playing at numerous AUC events, took the stage. Their performance was described by Zainab Tarek, a sophomore psychology major, as a “fantastic start to the day.”
The band performed various political, economic, as well as fittingly environmental songs such as “Ermi Zebaltak” (Throw Your Garbage Away), which garnered great interest from the audience. When asked about their experience on stage, percussionist Naeyr Al Mamoun commented, “the crowd was interactive and I think we got our message across.”
In-between musical performances, the attendees were more than entertained. A collection of jewelry designers, naturalists selling cacti, handmade handbags, and lamps made from recycled bottles, all manufactured by Egyptians, were on display. These products astounded the guests and alerted them to the eco-friendly possibilities and alternatives.
There were also plenty of activities, such as bungee jumping, to partake in and enjoy. “The amount of things to do here makes me wish the festival ran for more than just seven hours,” commented Mahmoud Khairy, one of the festival attendees.
As the festival progressed, the crowd started to swell and many out-comers started flooding the premises, including a group of 20 students from Tanta who “rented their own bus to get to the event,” according to Green Hands’ festival organizer, Monica Ramsis.
“Despite a little problem with the security [sic],” Ramsis noted, referencing one point where security wouldn’t allow the attendees to exit and re-enter the festival, “it was all-in-all a great experience.” She was definitely not the only one to think so; the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm was apparent, especially during the evening musical performances featuring Mahmoud El Esseily, Ramy Essam, as well a surprise appearance by singer Karim Mohsen, whose performance was described by AUC freshman Basma Hatem, as “a great, exciting way to end the festival.”
Students weren’t the only ones to be impressed with the collective atmosphere of eco-friendliness and entertainment of the festival. AUC President Lisa Anderson also attended and regarded the event as a “fabulous initiative,” citing that she would “like to see it become an annual event.”
When asked whether or not Green Hands plans on turning this into a yearly function, organizer Monica Ramsis affirmed, “it was such a success this year, on so many levels, that I think it’s very possible that the club will be hosting others in the future.”