The title of this post is the question posed by my cab driver on our way to JFK after I told him I was on my way to Egypt to work in a position that had been suspended, on behalf of a school which had just informed me it could not sanction a trip to a country whose president had been removed only 48 hours ago.
The man had a point. I mean what in God’s name was I doing? A revolution had just occurred, my school wasn’t sanctioning my trip, my internship had been (what I hope is temporarily) suspended, and my parents had all but begged me not to go. Why was I doing this?
I’ve been trying to get to Egypt and do something valuable for nearly 5 years now. I’ve always thought it would be fun to go and spend some time here on my own, but I was hell-bent on making sure that I would also do something valuable during that time. So I’ve spent the past few years getting rejected from a Fulbright project, never hearing back from job opportunities, coming very close to accepting the opportunity to do grad school at the American University in Cairo, and more. Every time I’ve tried to make the trip here though, something has stopped me. Whether it be flat out rejection, or the realization that the value I had initially sought out was no longer present.
So here I was on the day of travel, presented with yet another reason not to go to Egypt. Except that this time, I was way too close to even think about turning around.
So I’ve decided to do an independent study on “Democracy in Revolutionary Egypt.” I want to understand exactly who is vying for democracy, what their vision for democracy in Egypt is, and how different groups differ from one another within this vision.
At the same time I’m also here for personal reasons. Sure I’m Egyptian, sure I speak Arabic, sure I’ve been to Egypt many times since birth, and sure I have plenty of family here. But I’ve never actually lived here.
Ultimately I hope not only to understand Egypt’s current political environment, but also to understand a place I have admired and been proud of my entire life but never actually lived in.
And if youre interested, I hope to keep you posted along the way.