On May 26, 2012, Sasha, Dylan and I finished our final day of dribbling for Kicking Across Carolina, a huge feat (feet?) in and of itself, but as we said, just the beginning of our journey as an organization. However, within a few days we all went our separate ways, Sasha to Brazil, Dylan to Camp Seagull, and I to Cairo. While KAC was a huge project, I still had 10 weeks of summer left, and I was determined to get as much out of them as possible. The good news is I was able to travel back to my home country and see my extended family. The bad news is that I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
When I arrived in Egypt, the atmosphere was tense to say the least. The presidential run-off election was just starting, and I had managed to secure a job as a foreign media analyst for the campaign of Dr. Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Freedom and Justice Party. My job consisted mostly of reading American and British news articles and analyzing their criticisms of Dr. Morsi and the FJP as a whole. This was Egypt’s first truly free election in the country’s history, and I was resolute in doing all that I could to contribute to the success of the democratic process. So for 10 weeks, I showed my support in every way I could.
I read dozens of news articles every day, analyzing the world’s view of Dr. Morsi and reporting back to my superiors. I sat in on press conferences with journalists from all over the world, taking down their questions as well as our answers in an effort to improve our responses. I joined marches in Tahrir Square protesting the ongoing meddling of the Egyptian military in the political process and advocating a transparent and safe election. I was fortunate enough to be present in Egypt at a time when every passing day shaped the future of the country.
On Sunday, June 24th, I was in Cairo when the results of the run-off election were announced, and thankfully, Dr. Mohamed Morsi was declared the next president of Egypt. While this announcement was met with lots of fanfare and merriment, this was only the beginning of the reconstruction of the Egyptian political system. Dr. Morsi had made all kinds of promises ranging from the economic improvement of the nation to the reduction of pollution in big cities like Cairo. Now he had to prove that he could fulfill those promises, and I counted myself as one of the people willing to help him do that in any way I could. I took a job at the Clinton Foundation in Cairo, translating documents from English to Arabic, and continuing to report on the global image of the new president.
Now, more than 2 months later, Egypt is still facing a slew of problems, as Dr. Morsi and his administration try to rebuild a political system that was corrupted for decades. However, it can be said without a doubt that the people of Egypt are moving in the right direction, slowly but surely. Democracy is not something that happens overnight; it doesn’t take place with the election of an individual or the implementation of a new policy. It is a slow, steady, and often frustrating process. But it is a process that many have fought and died for, and a cause worth fighting and dying for. The first three weeks of my summer taught me the love and respect that people have for others and their differing views. The rest of my summer taught me that if people truly want a change, there is nothing that can stand in their way. I hope that together, these lessons can help me and the rest of the Kicking Across Carolina team in our future ventures, whatever they may be. Regardless of where our travels take us, I will always look back and fondly remember the time we spent dribbling and getting to know each other, and I will always remember the historic summer I spent in Egypt.