By: Jowahdi Maulana Salik, YES 2011-2012, Orange, Massachusetts

Before going to Cairo, Egypt, I don’t really know what to expect. I didn’t let the excitement inside me to occupy my mind. Like in all other travels I had in the past, I am this type of traveler whose fan of ‘chill’ and ‘just go with the flow’ and ‘let time decide to where to bring you’. These three things are always with me whenever I go to new places— places that I’ve never been before.

Didn’t I know that this travel will be very different from my previous travels?

Upon reaching Cairo, we were welcomed by fellow Egyptian YES alumni and booked us a ride going to Novotel where the YES ToT will take place. After checking in, my body wants to rest but I started feeling excited— that feeling they called butterflies in the stomach which I literally feel. My emotion of excitement stops me to sleep and tells me to go the down the lobby and wait for the other YES alumni from different countries to come in. Yes, I was physically tired from more than 15 hours of flight from Mindanao to Cairo but emotionally prepared to sit, listen, share, learn, and have fun for the training.

Novotel 6th of October, Egypt


We started the training with a fun activity introducing ourselves and answering the question of, “If you have a magic wand what change you will do?” The question put me in a silent mode. Waiting for my turn to talk, but not really ready what to share, because deep inside I have a lot of things I wanted to change. These things are big issues and known to be a global issue and I know to myself that they would be impossible to solve quickly, and maybe they will never be resolved. So instead of enumerating them what I only uttered is that, if I have a magic wand I will ask it to divide itself and distribute it to other people inside the room. So that everyone can make a positive change when they get back to their communities. Interestingly, some shared they wanted to end the traffic in their city, feed people and end hunger, love for humanity, one language for the world, free travel everywhere, and many more. My takeaway from this part of the training is that we can all make a change, the world is full of social problems, but it also full of a loving individual who wants to make a positive change in many forms of ideas and actions. If we only work together then little by little we can turn positive change to reality.

Cultural Tour to the Pyramids and Old Islamic City of Cairo

Who will not be excited about seeing the great pyramids in person? I think they’ll be no one.

I myself was really excited because I believe that part of learning is seeing and understanding things, understanding the history to appreciate even more the present. What I appreciate more about the cultural tour is that it gave me ideas to think about how a country similar and different from one another. The tour opened my eyes on the current social and economic issues back in my country the Philippines. I was able to compare and contrast practices in Egypt and the Philippines.

Part of my advocacy is the understanding the current cultural and environmental issues that are being contributed by the tourism industry. Using Boracay Island as an example, the island was closed for rehabilitation because of what tourists had brought to it. Its beauty attracts different tourists coming from around the world, and the strong promotion of our tourism sector made it welcomed millions of tourists for the past years. Its beauty contributes to million dollars of economic contribution from highly developed infrastructures and high-flocked tourists’ arrivals. Because of this, many environmental and conservation issues made it to its destruction. Plastic straws and other single-use plastics ended up swimming in the ocean and doubled the numbers of marine species in the ocean. And possibly, when tourism will still be seen as a pro-economic contributor in building more and more infra in our natural destinations, then maybe one day, we will only be promoting destructive tourism which could lead to environmental destructions and economic deflation.

From the cultural tour, I finally got an idea on what to present for our train back session. A training on how to be a Responsible Traveller.


The train back session which is composed of six (6) alumni from different backgrounds and advocacies, where each alumnus/ alumna will present their training idea with its goal and objectives.

The idea of my training on “How to be a Responsible Traveller” is to share the negative effects of traveling in the environment, and to also share tips on how to travel responsibly. This is for everyone to realize that traveling is not only for exploration and having fun, but most importantly a responsibility to take care for the environment.

I started the session with a game called “Bucketlist”, where the participants are given time to think about their ultimate dream destination and list all the things they think they’ll be bringing when traveling. And to sum-up their answers, they say, clothes, documents, sunscreens and lotion, camera, hats, and others. The reason why they were asked to think and make a list is for them to realize that every single item we bring when traveling contributes something negative to the environment. And also, how you behave as a traveler is sometimes worst contributor than any other item you bring.

A study says that most of the millennial travelers pack their things the night before they travel. This practice is not new to most of us, the tendency we tend to forget other things we can minimally have negative contributions to our environment.

Some of the shared tips to become a responsible traveler is:

  • Packing your things as early as possible, bringing your own personal hygiene kits instead of using the one that the hotel provides you;
  • Having your own personal bamboo or metal straw instead of drinking your favorite drink with a single-use straw;
  • And lastly, practicing the two mentioned tips in all your future travels.

At the end of the day, it always starts with our behavior. Our behavior on how we travel.

And now that I’m home, I will still be working with my training idea and I am planning to conduct the training to different schools in Cotabato City. I will be also incorporating it in my work by including it to one of our Bridging Kahlifa Sessions, a session about being good to yourself and being good to the environment.

Through the YES Training of Trainers’ Workshop, I did not only take home many photos with stories with me but also important learning and techniques on how to become an effective trainer in the future. This always reminds us YES alumni the reason why we were given an opportunity that changed our lives in so many ways. And that reason is to serve our communities by sharing whatever things we got from our exchange.