Nationality

Egypt

Education

Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Power Section "Mechatronics", Faculty of Engineering, Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt

Languages

Arabic, English

Little did I know as a child that my future career would begin at my father’s typewriting shop in Cairo. Currently, I work as an Arabic Editorial and Desktop Publishing Assistant for the Arabic Text Processing Unit, which is part of the Documentation Division of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management at the United Nations. 

Our work is much more than minutiae; I like to describe the Text Processing Unit as the last line of defense before publication. After receiving materials from translators and revisers, my unit incorporates editorial corrections and works on formatting. Next, we proofread the documents against the original manuscript. We then compile all the parts of a document, making sure it flows smoothly and complies with official United Nations format. Finally, we do text alignment to feed the Computer Assisted Translation tool. When our team finishes a project, I feel proud that we have done it the right way.

As a former engineer, I love the precision that my work demands. My job is challenging and full of fine details - knowing the number of millimetres between lines and paragraphs, for instance. Our unit handles a massive workload: in 2013, we processed approximately 6,106 documents - that’s 79,781 pages or 35,284,471 words.
 
During my time with the United Nations I’ve learned this: you should never get discouraged. Experience in your field can sometimes be more valuable than the degree you hold. When I applied for this job, I did not expect to be selected; I had been educated as a mechanical engineer and the United Nations was looking for specialists in publishing. I was proud to be hired in 2008.

A year later, in 2009, I worked as an Arabic Editorial and Desktop Publishing Assistant to produce the notes for the President of the General Assembly, the United Nations’ highest deliberative body. I will never forget the Christmas Eve of 2009. It was one of the most challenging - and most exciting - days of my life. There were four of us: two translators and two text processors. It was critical that our team produce error-free text on a tight schedule. Most of the time, we got the notes to translate and correct on the day of the speech. On Christmas Eve, when the General Assembly session concluded, our team worked round the clock. Each member of the team did everything he or she could. We knew that whatever we produced on that piece of paper would be addressed to the 193 Member States. My colleagues and I completed our task, and we did our best. Our teamwork and the experience we shared was a great achievement in itself. 

My father used to tell me you should never underestimate anything you learn; every single piece of knowledge you collect throughout your life could be important at some point. It was he who taught me the skills that got me here. I could never have guessed that my childhood game of playing on typewriters in my father’s publishing company in Cairo would lead me across the world to a career with the United Nations.


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