Professor Wahba talks to journalist Gina Phillips about his beliefs, what he thinks exploring life truly means and what role trees and plants play in all of this.
"Sound can truly affect our emotions"
When you see someone reacts to sound for the first time, what is that like?
It is strange how a person reacts to sound. Especially young children: When they react to sound, we find a smile on their face. We find that they are more relaxed. Some other children are frightened, and they start to cry when they hear sound for the first time. Some of these children are sort of bewildered. This is because we are all different. We are not the same, and so every one of us is going to react to sound in a different way. But the fact is that if sound can bring out all these reactions, this means sound can truly affect our emotions.
We have been talking about the concept of exploring life and it means something different to everybody. I imagine it means something incorporated with sound for you. But what does it mean to you in your own words?
I have a broad concept when I talk about the exploration of life. I believe that exploration of life is not just simply something geographical. For example: If you see a young child moving, at first in his mother's arms, afterwards it starts to move from one room to the other and then, when they grow up, they start to walk and go outside. So, they are exploring their geographical situation. But the exploration of life is something way broader than that: You explore your emotions, you explore your thoughts, you explore ideas, you explore your scope of reading and watching, you explore history. This is the real exploration of life, the one that exceeds the concept of geographical exploration. In the 1800s, when they tried to get to the North Pole and tried to reach America and so on, that was true geographical exploration. But the concept that we have now, for example, the exploration deep into the human body: Explaining what sound means, what hearing means, what vision means and so on. This makes you more believe in God and makes you more believe in what you do as a surgeon, as a doctor.
So how do you stay in the moment and just be present?
As a surgeon, for example, you have to concentrate on what you are doing really well, especially during surgery. In order to be able to concentrate you have to have leisure time and time of relaxation. This is time, where you can go into philosophical depth in terms of life. So, this is going to give you the power to concentrate.
What do you do to relax?
Well, I have visited many botanical gardens in the world. The last one I visited was the one in Sydney, Australia. I very much love the one in Innsbruck: You just sit there on a bench, you look at the plants and the good thing about trees and plants is that you can talk to them and they don't run away from you. They just stay there. You know, they feel what you tell them. In my small garden back home, one of my trees was not doing well, so I started watering it and talking to it. The tree started to get well again. Humans on the contrary, when you talk to them they run away from you. They do not want to answer your questions or listen to you. But trees do! Of course, they do not answer back, but they also do not give you a headache.
Prof. Hassan Wahba
A visionary Scientist, a loving father and a generous mentor. 1960-2018
In loving memory of Prof. Hassan Wahba, a professor who dedicated his life to overcoming hearing loss and deafness. He was a true pioneer and leader and his contributions to the field of Otorhinolaryngology are unquestioned, reflected in his outstanding international reputation and the many honours and awards he received (including ''The Erwin and Ingeborg Hochmair Award for services to the deaf'' in 2013).
He will always be remembered as the dedicated mentor who freely shared his expertise, the master of details and the great source of wisdom, support and advice. An extremely thoughtful scientist who truly believed in and loved what he was doing, according to his motto: "Hearing is the birthright of every child".
Prof. Hassan's entirely human gift of generosity and unique style of teaching will continue to be his legacy, transforming lives of thousands of hearing impaired children across Egypt and Africa. Moreover and perhaps most importantly, he impacted the lives of generations of young doctors and even adults in the ENT field.
Goodbye Professor Wahba, you will forever be missed and never forgotten - you inspired and taught us all.