**The following is an account of what I felt on June 24, 2012
The sounds, the sights, the emotions: it all seems so surreal to me. As I sit in my favorite café, I am overwhelmed by what feels like a wild cocktail of excitement, joy, and an all-too-common sense of uncertainty. With the blaring harangue of news networks streaming the latest updates over our heads, the pulse of Tahrir is palpable no matter where you are in the city. Muhammad Morsi is the first elected president of Egypt. Just typing that sentence sends indescribable emotions and sensations throughout my body. I am here. We are all here, encapsulated in this incredible moment in Egyptian history. I struggle to formulate in words and phrases what I feel right now: my happiness, my confusion, my fears. But as I remain in a daze, gripped by the images of youth wildly chanting “Morsi” as they zoom by, I begin to realize that what I feel can’t possibly compare to the emotions of the nearly 90 million native Egyptians surrounding me. I’ve only been in this country for four weeks and already I feel emotionally invested in today’s historic events. But what to me is a traveler’s “dream come true”, is a truly defining moment for the citizens of this country, one that will reverberate in their lives for the weeks, months, and years to come. For a nation gripped by a 16-month bout of instability, Morsi’s victory marks another chapter in the thrilling adventure that is Egypt’s revolution.
And yet it would be unfair of me to portray today as a day of celebration for all. As our wise sage Ustaaz Lo quickly reminded us, Egyptians, and Cairenes in particular, are a diverse bunch. Not everyone is singing in the streets of victory; for the more than twelve million Egyptians who cast their ballots for Ahmed Shafiq, the recent announcement is a cause for concern. Their fears are legitimate; many worry about the Brotherhood’s rise to power, distrusting their promises to produce an inclusive, liberal-minded government that reflects the complexities of Egyptian society. Others fear Morsi’s lack of experience or his strong relationship with the Brotherhood’s supreme leader. But while sounds of Morsi’s supporter ring loudly in our ears, Ustaaz Lo urges us to note the silent reservation of his critics. Their quiet demeanor, evident in café circles or Coptic neighborhoods, underscores the political tensions that may be difficult to unhinge even after the election.
Soaking it all in one last time, I am struck by a single thought that races through my head like a speeding train with no destination: how will history judge this day? As a student of history, I’m accustomed to the power of hindsight. Blessed as participants of the present, we view past events through a much clearer lens, acutely aware of factors and consequences previously unseen. But today, our DukeEngage group is an eyewitness to a turning point in Egypt’s story, a plot twist with the potential to change everything. Many questions remain unanswered: what kind of president of will Muhammad Morsi be? What role will minorities and women play in the latest episode of political drama? How will the world respond to Egypt’s first truly Islamist leader? Pondering these uncertainties is both exhilarating and extremely frightening. For the first time in my life, I feel I am a part of “history-in-the making”, a chronicle of events that will be studied by future generations. But while they will benefit from history’s clarity, my present self is blind to what lies ahead. And yet with all of these unknowns and ambiguities, one thing remains crystal clear: I will never forget where I was and whom I was with on June 24, 2012.