The Journey Home
I left Egypt for the United States when I was 6 years old. Throughout my years abroad,during which I never visited Egypt, I was resentful and fearful of what was supposed to be my home country. I would hear family members
talk about the horrible living conditions and the way women were treated at times, which made
me feel as if Egypt was a backward country.
I would listen to contradictory statements about
how they love Egypt, but would never want to return. Everybody seemed to cling to the past
when Egypt was very different from what it is now, and I would immediately think, "This is a
dead land." In my mind, I knew that Egypt was
not a place where I'd like to live. Fifteen years later, in 2008, I was destined to
come to AUC. At the beginning, I was skeptical.
But, as I began to make friends, attend cultural
events, visit downtown and artistic sites, and speak
to laymen on the street, I grew to love it and
really experience what Egypt was all about.
I made friends with street vendors and came to
know a shopkeeper in the busy district of
El-Manial who, in my opinion, sells the best
homemade ice cream in the world. I also met
magnificent artists and filmmakers. I realized that
the country was not stagnant and that people here
are kind, smart and have a lot of potential if
resources are utilized correctly. I began to embrace
At first, I was looked upon as the foreigner,
for all intents and purposes, a khawaga in the midst
of the hubab [a foreigner in the midst of a chaotic
country], but slowly people started to change their
perceptions of me.
When the uprising began on January 25,
I knew I had to take part. I lived close to Tahrir
Square, so my routine was to watch the news in
the morning, then go down to the square on some
days to take part in the chanting and clean-ups.
Hope was in the air, and when Mubarak stepped
down, I knew that it was the beginning of a new
era for Egypt, where each and everyone of us has
a contribution to make to build a strong country
capable of standing on its feet again.
For me, while I realized the importance of
political activism, I see my role in economic
development. I want to be able to establish a
project that helps people who have a business plan, but don't have resources to carry it out.
Banks mostly focus on big businesses, and people
such as villagers, the bawwabeen [doormen] and
poor women managing households on their own
are left out. This mentality is holding Egypt back
and needs to change. My plan is to be a part of
May Khourshed '11 graduated from AUC with a
bachelor's in economics and a minor in political science.
She plans to pursue her her master's and doctorate in economic development.