On the morning of our first open house, a few of the active members of SAWTY - including myself - posed for a picture in our office in a gorgeous historic home in ‘La Kasbah’ district of the old city in Tunis.
The past few weeks in our organization have been disorienting. We have had incredible successes coupled with crippling obstacles. We have experienced joy, anxiety, exuberance, anger, anticipation, paranoia and the rest, but we continue to work. I can’t help but think that the troubles we have had are natural accompaniments of such an uncertain and fragile nation, and so I have not, and will not, quit.
Some of us have become great friends and others staunch competitors… and yet SAWTY must continue. It’s obviously ideal to make friends with those with whom you work most closely, but I suppose that’s not always possible. There are always personalities, agendas, and mentalities that stand at odds with one another, and there is very little at all that can be done about that. But what I have learned from this on-going experience is that I cannot allow myself to get caught in the details. The fighting and the bickering are all details, and they distract and detract from the goal.
I left my home, my family, my friends, my last semester at UNC, and my entire life with a purpose: to work, wholeheartedly and unrelentingly, for a better, democratic, and a just Tunisia. To give my time, energy, and capacity to my homeland. To instill in my fellow young Tunisians the same pride, impetus, and activism I exercise as a young American.
SAWTY’s Open House this past weekend was the refreshment I needed. Speaking with the few hundred people who came by to learn about and join in our organization reminded me why I came to Tunisia in the first place, why I joined the ‘first six’ who founded and created SAWTY, and why I stayed with the group for this long.
Our cause is larger than any of us and all of us combined, and it would behoove us to remember that.