Here’s a bio I’m excited about sharing, mostly because it comes with a story:
One day, when I was still writing up my doctoral dissertation at Oxford, I received an email from my supervisor that read: "I know you’ve got to do everything at once. It is just that I also know you could finish your dissertation soon if you put your mind to it. No more grappling … The third space has to be the space after submission."
Though this sounds a bit confusing, it made total sense to me and here’s why:
I received this email at a time when I was juggling too many things. While doing my fieldwork for my doctoral research in Beirut, I was also co-starting an initiative for teachers called Leadership Initiative for Teachers which later transformed into L3b (لعب) – the company I cofounded and which is now called In Playful Company (yep, we rebranded and we love our new name). I was also teaching courses in the humanities and social sciences at a local university while also designing and delivering workshops on personal and professional development for practitioners, professionals, and NGO workers in Beirut. And that year, I was invited to be a TEDxBeirut speaker. My presentation was titled ‘Inviting a Third’. In it, I invited the audience to think beyond binary oppositions by opening a third space for surprise and possibility.
Now let me backtrack a bit. During my first year as a doctoral student, my supervisor and peers at Oxford started calling me ‘the grappler’, mainly because I incessantly used the term ‘grappling with’ to express my appetite for playing around with ideas while doing my research. Every time I was asked to present my topic, I would start with: “Well, I am currently grappling with the following idea.” The thing is, I had many intellectual cravings that went beyond conventional disciplinary boundaries. I wanted to grapple with a wide spectrum of theories, methodologies, and conceptual frameworks in thinking about my research. And I wanted to dip into everything and anything that I came across – a recipe for disaster if you’re a doctoral student! But I couldn't resist the thrill and excitement of incidental learning that accompanied intellectual wandering.
Back to the email: my supervisor was concerned that if I continued to grapple with ideas indefinitely, I would soon drop out of my program. A valid concern indeed!
You see my lifelong learning journey was never the traditional one. My educational and professional paths after high school took me through engineering, business, psychology, theology, education and entrepreneurship. I also worked as a salesman, a businessman, a radio talk-show host, an amateur musician, a counselor, a teacher, a trainer, and a researcher. I was always seeking learning spaces that went beyond conventional ones. I was always looking for third spaces that fostered deep and authentic learning and that inspired joy and fulfilment.
"No more grappling … The third space has to be the space after submission." And submission it was. I finally completed my doctorate. However, as my supervisor had suggested in his email, I took my intellectual appetites into all my following learning and professional experiences. In everything I did, I tried to grapple my way out of linear modes of thinking and doing in favor of dynamic and iterative processes of learning and growth. Whether in classrooms, research projects, coaching, or workshops, I tried to look for and create such ‘third spaces’ where playing with ideas and possibility can take place.
As an educator, trainer, entrepreneur and coach, I always try to create those third spaces where deep learning and the joy of Aha moments can happen. I call these spaces 'corridors' because they are dynamic and promise choice, surprise and possibility.
Now my story would be incomplete if I didn't share this last funny bit. A few years back, I was contacted by St. Antony’s, my college at Oxford, asking if I would like to donate the deposit that they still owed me to renovating a room in one of the buildings in the college. The incentive was that my name will be written on a plaque that will be fixed to the wall at the entrance of the Beirut Room in that building. I thought “why not.” A few months later, they emailed back asking how I would like my full name to be written on that plaque. The playful, mischievous side of me prevailed and I sent them my ‘full name’. No one objected! Here’s how it appears on the plaque today :)
I am a coach, entrepreneur, consultant, trainer, educator and TEDx speaker. I hold a Ph.D in Education from the University of Oxford.
As a coach, I help my clients develop higher levels of awareness, achieve more clarity by decluttering their thinking, and make choices that enhance their wellbeing and invite surprise and possibility into their lives.
As an entrepreneur, I am co-founder of In Playful Company, where we utilize play-based strategies to help organizations build vibrant and human-centered work cultures that foster collaboration and innovative risk-taking.
As a consultant, I have supported the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) in developing the National Education 2030 Strategy for Lebanon. I have also worked with several local and international organizations in areas spanning strategic planning, capacity building and impact evaluation including World Learning, Center for Educational Research and Development (CERD), Higher Council for Childhood – Ministry of Social Affairs (HCC – MOSA), UNICEF, UNESCO, among others.
As a trainer and educator, I have facilitated numerous workshops for education leaders, administrators, teachers, and social workers in public and private institutions as well as in collaboration with several governmental and nongovernmental organizations across Lebanon. I also teach at the Departments of Humanities and Education at the Lebanese American University.
As a speaker, I have presented at several local and international events including TEDxBeirut, TEDxEast (New York), among others.
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