The Difference Between A Good Professor And A Bad One

Earlier this week, Dr. Kamel Arram, former head of Information Technology department, and one of the oldest staff members of the Faculty of Computers and Information, passed away after over a 6-year spell at Menoufia University. Dr. Kamel was one of the most respectable staff members at our faculty, known for his kindness, fairness, and tendency not to overcomplicate the subjects he taught, always well-dressed and wearing a nice perfume. He was a favourite to many, and loved by all. His door was always open to any student who needed help or advice.

Now, I do not have many memories with Dr. Kamel, since he only taught me one subject in my four years at the fculty- and I did not attend most of its lectures anyway- however, one event is clearly present in my mind.

It was the last lecture of the semester, I was sitting in the middle of the classroom almost half asleep, only to find him stop what he was doing and asks me to stand up, asking him what was wrong, he told me that he saw me talking several times during the lecture, accusing me of being a disturbance and disrespectful to him. Being the rebel that I am, and especially since I did not do what he said, I refused to swallow his accusations and apologize like what most of my colleagues used to do. Instead, I firmly told him that I did not do what he said and that I respected him just right. He stared at me for a second, then surprisingly, unlike what most faculty staff members do in such situation- kicking your ass out of the classroom- he asked me to sit back down. Right there and then, I knew I was screwed.

You see, in situations like that, especially when the teacher does not give a furious reaction, one of two things are bound to happen to the student, he either gets a very low grade at that teacher’s subject, or fails it altogether. To my complete and utter surprise, that did not happen to me; I got a B+ at the subject, exactly the grade I deserved. Needless to say, my respect for him was immeasurable.

Upon receiving the news of his passing, many of the faculty’s former and current students paid tribute to his memory on Facebook by praying for him using their status updates and changing their profile pictures to his picture. Someone even started an event suggesting fasting and praying for Dr. Kamel’s soul this Thursday. Already over 180 people have RSVP’d to the event as “Attending”. You can clearly see that this man was truly loved and respected.

Now, let me shift gears to another person; Wael Shawky. He is also an old staff member at the faculty and the current head of the Information Technology department, and the person I despised the most at the faculty.

Allow me to elaborate, despite being a very, very well off person, he does not look the least bit like a department head in a respectable faculty; always dressed in disordered, unironed clothes, having uncombed hair, unpolished, dusty shoes, and smelling like a bucket of garbage. He is an egomaniac disrespectful control freak that is famous for his deliberate tendency to overcomplicate the subjects he teaches and taking pleasure in making as many of his students fail as possible except for a specific group of students. This group, I used to call “The Lackeys”, is a group of students that do nothing but behave obsequiously towards him. You see, this is a win-win situation, the students get a free pass in the subjects he teaches, and maybe even given a slack with their master studies, and he gets to be shown the respect he will never earn.

Wael Shawky is also one that I (gladly) did not have any kind of relationship with, except for this one event. It happened on one of the finals last semester, I was standing on the door of the exam room, leaning on the nearest desk to get my pens and calculator out of my bag- like I always do- before he stepped into the room, looked at me, and rudely told me to get my stuff out of the bag outside the exam room. Knowing that I was not doing anything wrong, I paid him absolutely no attention, I did not even look his way and continued what I was doing. He said the same once again and again I paid him no attention until I got my stuff out, put my bag where it is supposed to be, and went to my seating, only to find him saying that I am an impolite, ill-raised person. I turned my head towards him, stared at him for a second, then turned around and continued my way.

Needless to say, I failed his subject, one that I completely deserved to pass. You see, the likes of Wael Shawky- and unfortunately they are a lot in our faculty- expect to be respected and feared unconditionally, he was probably angered that I did not tremble in fear and said “Yes, sir!” like what his lackeys do, so he decided to make me fail his subject in my final year, making me graduate in September instead of July. He is that sick.

Now, assume that Wael Shawky was the one who passed away instead of Dr. Kamel, would we have seen this burst of emotions from the students? I do not think so. I have not met a single person in the faculty that truly likes him. I do not even think his lackeys would grieve for him, since it is the benefits they respect and love, not the person.

All that we leave in this life is our legacy, Dr. Kamel left a legacy of love and respect. What Wael Shawky has left so far is a legacy built with despise, hatred, and contempt. With death so near, specially that he is not young at all, Wael Shawky should start working for what he is leaving after his inevitable death, that’s if he does not want to be remembered as the scum of the earth he is being now.

One last thing, when I heard about Dr. Kamel’s passing, I prayed for Allah to have mercy and forgiveness upon his soul. If I heard of the death of Wael Shawky, I would pray to Allah to avenge me for what he had done to me and hundreds of other students who suffered injustice by that tyranny.

Rest in peace Dr. Kamel. May Allah forgive and have mercy upon your soul.

On the New Vodafone Egypt Ad: Why I Am Not Offended

A few  days ago, Vodafone Egypt started a new ad campaign for its new unlimited streaming internet bundle. The campaign primarily relies on the use of celebrities- similar to Mobinil and Etisalat Egypt- by using the young actors of “Samir, Shahir, and Bahir” movie as the campaign stars. Vodafone also aimed at giving the campaign a humorous flavour by re-narrating some historic events. One of the ads mocks the failed attempt of Abbas Ibn Firnas to fly:

Personally, I did not find anything wrong with the ad, I even thought it was a very creative way to capture the audience’s attention. However, I was surprised to find that many people did not like it as much. Their main point is that Abbas Ibn Firnas is a great scientist with great contributions to the history of the science- which I personally knew none of, did you?- to be made fun of like that, and that “Vodafone Egypt owes an apology to the educated who knew that that man was truly a scientist and to the uneducated viewers who need to know who that man was”.

I respectfully disagree. Let’s look at things from an “abstract” point of view. First, Vodafone Egypt is a privately owned company that its first and most important goal is and should be maximizing its profits; it is not- and should not be- its role or duty to educate the public with the “great” achievements of past scientists.

Second and most important; advertising 101: when you start an ad campaign to sell/promote something, the campaign must appeal to the targeted audience. In this case, Vodafone is promoting internet; something for its young customers- hence the use of young actors and the attempt to make it funny. So, do the young customers of Vodafone Egypt know about Ibn Firnas’ water clock or glass planispheres? No. Do you they care? NO! Ask any young male/female walking in the street- or any age really- what they know about Abbas Ibn Firnas, and you are guaranteed to get the failed flying attempt answer- that is if you got an answer at all. It is unfortunate but it is true.

Vodafone Egypt was smart enough to capitalize on the little knowledge its targeted audience have and turn it into something relevant, something they can relate to. That IS smart advertising. Also, come to think of it, Vodafone did not claim anything Ibn Firnas did not do. The guy did cover his body with feathers, he did get on top of a hill and jumped to attempt flying, and he did fall. Maybe that was not the only thing he did, but that is the most known among the public; the public that Vodafone Egypt is targeting with its ad campaign.

Looking forward to your comments on this one.


Update 1: apparently Vodafone Egypt has removed the video from its Youtube channel. Could this be the first step towards admitting they made a mistake?

Update 2: the video is back online only an hour after it was removed. Still no official word from the company on its Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Update 3 (16/11/2010): the video is deleted again from YouTube, but it can still be viewed on TV.

Update 4 (17/11/2010): Vodafone Egypt released an official statement on their Facebook page, implicitly apologizing for offending people with the Abbas ad, vowing to gradually remove the ad from TV channels. The statement can be read here.