Safa Hajjaj

About Safa Hajjaj

Safa Hajjaj @safahajjaj Nonprofit Leader, Woman Entrepreneur Atlas Corps Fellow from Morocco Meridian International Center, Curriculum Developer President of Junior Chamber International of Marrakesh Member of Marrakesh's Regional Council for Human Development Founder and CEO of

Tacos, Biryani & Noodles … Welcome to the USA!


If there is a one statement that all my International friends in the US have agreed many times on, it is that US American food is not tasty. Some American friends would argue and say “But have you tried the Soul food*? It’s the best.” But my International ones will stick to their taste.

A fun fact about my first day in the US, is that my first dinner was at Chipotle in China town in other words, Mexican flavor in Asian-“named” neighborhood. My first reaction was “Where is the US American food” and I didn’t want to hear anyone showing me McDonalds.

Final note

I promised

Before coming to Atlas Corps Fellowship, I made a promise to myself.
For people who knew me over the years, close friends or people who were curious to seek the deepest side of me, they will all say that Safa has lived most of her past in the future and although she was alive and vibrant in the present, her thoughts have always been about the future.
I can’t help it. But I am a visionary. I see years ahead and picture how the world should be. my brain processes sometimes like if I’m playing chess and it visualizes all steps and consequences and impact under a virtual map format. I just can’t help it. and I love it. but that means that I also miss being 100% present in the moment and enjoying the fullness of being Here and NOW.
I was aware of that. and unfortunately until today my jobs haven’t required that skill or at least haven’t really used its full potential. So being a strategist or a visionary seemed to be either a curse or just an illusion since it wasn’t put into practice.
So before coming to the US, I made a promise to myself. I promised that I will learn how to LIVE HERE AND NOW. I have now lived 17 months in Washington DC, and I think for at least 12 months I could live the HERE but couldn’t help not being distracted to live the NOW. but these last 3 weeks, have been a complete NOW moments. I finally could experiment what it feels to live your next 16 hours when you’re up, enjoy your sleep and not make any plans for more than 24h.
It was an amazing exercise for the mind to appreciate the moments we live, the time we spend with people, the efforts you make today, the health you have, the laughters, the talks and get the best out of the day not without building the future because living the NOW I figured it doesn’t mean to ignore the future and not plan for it. but living the NOW means that your should worry less about the future, prepare for it but don’t worry about it. Work hard today but stop making assumptions about the results, just think that if things don’t go as planned, there must a way around.
Living the NOW, means also Love unconditionally and not get mad at people for what they do or feel about you. Think that tomorrow you may lose them and that will tell you how you should feel about them today, you will realize that all what you want is to love them then you forget about blaming them and every time you seem them you treat them as if you met for first time and last time, you spend that time with them at its fullness you know them more, you love them more, you allow yourself to be vulnerable front of them and you tell them how you feel because the future may never come again to afford that.
Living the HERE and NOW, made me love myself more, appreciate who I am, worry less about who I want to become because I am already being who I want and because being who I want to be is happening HERE and NOW and I have to enjoy that process and journey till I get there, there is no reason to worry much about the future and what will happen. Of course it is important to plan and to understand the consequences of your moves and decisions, but please don’t take life too seriously to the point that it makes you lose moments and then realize that you lived in the past and kept waiting for that future to happen but in between you were in a waiting room and you grew old doing that.
Thinking of the future shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the present.
Think of how many good non-harmful things you stopped yourself from doing because you thought it’s maybe not what fits the perfect picture you have of how your future should look like? Think of how many pennies you saved instead of enjoying traveling because you are saving for your death? Think of how many words you wrote then erased because you don’t want any track of such conversation or because you’re scared to be vulnerable sharing your true feelings? How many words were erased? How many new things you could learn or try but you were afraid of the consequences in the future if people knew you did them or tried them? How many times you forgot that you’re not here forever nor those people who are going to judge you? How many times the worry about the future frozen your thoughts, dreams and actions of today? How many times we haven’t used the future as driver for living the present but in a less stressful way? but instead it drives us towards limitations?
In the day you want to balance living in these 3 tenses: Past, Present and Future. but make sure you get the most out of the second one, because that’s the one you’re most likely in control of, that’s the one that is really happening and you can impact.
#Thankful #AtlasCorpsLifeExperience
Safa Hajjaj
A person from the present.

Beautiful Glass

I am practising these last few days an appreciation of my feelings and what I have because usually when I learn something new I feel sad for not knowing it before, I feel guilty for not have made enough effort earlier to know these things, and then I start wishing I’ve read of all philosophers, physicist, economists, poets, politicians, etc … I wish I studied all theories, history, experiments, art … I feel jealous although admiring of people who are more knowledgeable, and if there is a moment when I feel completely humble and my ego goes to zero is when I’m listening to a wise knowledgeable person. So I decided to take it easy on myself and just appreciate whenever I learn something new and feel thankful that at least now I know it. In other words, seeing the glass half full or as someone once said, seeing the glass “beautiful”.

How do I nourish self-doubt and how I overcome it

If I had to describe self-doubt as a personage, which usually is my style to tackle most of the feelings I encounter during my journey, then I would describe it as a “friend” that makes your life hard not because he loves you and wants you to improve but because this is probably his nature. I am not trying to be fatalist by saying this but some things are still beyond my understanding so I cut them short and say “he’s just like that” (sounds paranormal too). I can already name 1 or 2 “friends” that would easily play this personage.

Just a Peaceful walk

Whenever I walk down 14th street towards my work, I live and enjoy the power of a smile and saying a “good morning” to people I don’t know.

For somebody you are most probably the only person who will show care to her/him today. For others you probably make them feel comfortable to believe in humanity and kindness that they may have started to stop trusting. And for me, that makes me happy and thankful for being able to walk in the street, greet people and be safe and not harassed.

#WhoWins ?

First time I started to really try to learn and understand more about gay rights was when I lived in Istanbul in 2011. I have met many gay guys who became close friends and it was one of those unique moments in my life when I was extremely confused to the point that one day I sat down by myself and started crying. I cried because I felt there was injustice somewhere but I couldn’t identify it, or because I felt that it was just out of question that I go against any religious position towards homosexuality. I cried because my friends then were so kind to me, so thoughtful more than I would have expected. I cried because I looked at a human being for first time without labeling him under any gender or religion. I cried because I had a comfortable relationship with them although it was supposed not to be. I cried certainly because I couldn’t talk about it and till now, never dared to express any opinion publicly because I am afraid of receiving hate speeches from all my surrounding.

I am a US citizen then I exist

Today I was at the CARE USA conference and for first time in my life I will learn what in practice the word advocacy and lobbying means in the US. It seems less political than what it might be in our countries.

But I would like to talk about one and only one thing that I have lived and noticed during the experience of lobbying at the Capitol Hill. While we were going to enter the congressional buildings, we were not asked at any moment about our identity nor about our destination. We had just to go through the security, to confirm that our bags are clear and safe and that was about it.

How can you help an Entrepreneur?

Posted under The LEAD – Leaders Engaging for Action and Dialogue. Official Blog of Meridian International Center.

“At the same time you know very well that you can’t learn how to dive or swim unless you jump in the water.”

By Safa Hajjaj – Entrepreneur, Atlas Corps Fellow at Meridian International Center from Morocco @safahajjaj