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Another year has come and gone and with it a trip to London that I have yet to write about! So here it goes.
On November 19th, I hopped on a plane and headed towards the British capital. Saying that this was a dream come true is definitely an understatement. Especially considering the reason why I was there in the first place. Three weeks prior, I got a call from Amnesty International Morocco asking me if I was willing to represent Moroccan Youth activists at a weekend workshop. Of course I had to say yes.
So here I was, all bubbly faced and excited getting out of Heathrow airport to be greeted by my friend Sarah with whom I co-hosted the first season of Stirs & Bifocals. Of course, considering that my hotel was a 15 minute walk from King’s Cross station, my top priority was taking a picture near Platform 9 3/4. I have to say that I was lucky to arrive so late in the day. We made it to King’s Cross around 11 p.m. so there was practically no one there. When I walked past it 2 days later at around 6 p.m. I think the line was so long it was at least a 15 minute wait to get your picture taken.
The next morning, the workshop started. Unlike the other Amnesty International gathering I had the chance to participate in before in Denmark, Tunisia, and Morocco, this workshop was not about the participants being recipients of new information. It was an evaluation workshop on the integration of human rights education in global campaigns. Granted, it is a mouthful to pronounce. It was also the most intensive two days of my life. I think that we produced the same amount of work in two days that we usually do in 4-day-long workshops and trainings. I have to say that no matter how exhausting it was, it still was a very rewarding experience. Of course, I have had the chance to meet with people from all over the world. In fact, it was the most diverse AI related event I have been to with participants from the UK, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Moldova, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Kenya, Philippines, Chile, Mexico, and the United States. In retrospect, I think that the biggest takeaway from this experience is how some things are just easy to relate to, no matter where you come from. Looking at Human Right Education in particular was very interesting in the sense that it shifted my outlook on it from being just a peripheral activity to a core tool that can be used in activism.
The workshop ended on Saturday at 6 p.m. and I found myself sprinting to King’s Cross station to meet up with Sarah again so that we could go conquer the city. First stop: Paperchase! My love for stationary knows no limits and controlling myself in that store was a real feat. Afterwards, we headed over to the Big Ben where I got to be a bit touristy and take a few pictures here and then. We then went to Piccadilly Circus followed by a stop at a grocery store where I bought way too much tea. We then went to Trafalgar Square and finally Leicester Square that we jokingly nickname “Layster Square”. After walking around the city for hours, we had to stop for dinner. We opted for a Thai restaurant in the Leicester Square area. We then watched Mockingjay Pt. 2 at Midnight before I hopped on a double decker bus to head back to my hotel considering I had to leave for the airport the next morning.
Looking back, I have to say that I lived one of the most high speed weekends of my life in London. However, I would not trade it for anything else. Plus, I did get to achieve a couple of my childhood dreams so how could I complain!
London, I will be back. I promise.