The thing that made me cry today

This morning, Massimo sent me a link that popped up as part of a Google alert for the keyword “Arduino”. It was the story of Ahmed Bassiouny, beautifully eulogized by Kent Mensah of AfricaNews.com. Bassiouny was one of the activists killed during the Egyptian protests that led to Mubarak’s resignation.  He was also an sound and video artist and a teaching assistant at  at the Faculty of Art Education, Painting and Drawing Department, Helwan University. He was married and had two children.

I wouldn’t have run across this particular story if it weren’t for Massimo’s news alert, and the story doesn’t have anything to do with Arduino or digital art, except for the fact that it was one of this guy’s passions.  Knowing that made the events of the past few weeks feel much more personal, to me. The photo below, of Ahmed and a colleague displaying one of his works, is a scene I’ve witnessed a thousand times before, of an excited artist trying out a new palette.  It’s the kind of moment that makes me excited about coming to work each day. Today, it’s a scene that made me cry.

It’s easy to forget in the course of daily life that the people we work with have lives and experiences much richer than we discuss on an everyday basis.  Often their experiences are far more profound than anything I’ve experienced ourselves.  I’m thinking of several past and present students and colleagues who’ve lived through events like those of the past few weeks. For them, it’s a part of who they are now. For me, I am in awe of their courage and passion. It’s both humbling and comforting to be reminded that the people who change the world aren’t carved out of granite or descended from the heavens.  They’re the ones you’re sitting next to.

Condolences to Ahmed Bassiouny’s family and friends. He seems like someone I’d have liked to meet.

Thanks to Massimo Banzi for the link and to Kent Mensah for writing the story.

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