I knew my perspective would change about Egyptians after my DukeEngage experience. I knew my perspective would change about the Middle East. I knew my perspective would change about America and I knew my perspective would change about the world as I thought I knew it. What I didn’t know or expect to change was how I perceived myself. When I say this I don’t mean in reference to realizing how privileged I am like in my most recent blog post; I mean I have made more realizations about why I am who I am here than I have during any other period of time in my life.
Before embarking on this journey, I would fill out those “describe who you are” surveys (whether they were for a class or for an extra-curricular) and most of the time what I wrote down was a list of the standard “good” characteristics that I’m sure 90% of people put down about themselves: “outgoing, friendly, caring”…etc. In reality I just wrote those words down because it’s what I’ve been writing down since elementary school. Yet, due to the lifestyle changes and transitions I have undergone since then, these words no longer encompass everything about me. Here I’ve been able to pin-point certain qualities I never realized before. I’ve analyzed the past more than ever even though nothing in this country reminds me of it; it’s just constantly on my mind. I have come to see how certain events in my life have caused these qualities to form and ultimately define me. I won’t go into details because most of it is personal and I’d rather not post about it on the most public place of the 21st century: the World Wide Web. But I will tell you that some of those qualities I like and some of them I now want to change. Regardless, the point is that this place has done more for me than I could have ever imagined.
Maybe this is happening to me because I have finally removed myself for an extended period of time (2 months is the longest I have ever been away) from the place that I call home. Or maybe it’s this city-something about Cairo is having this effect on me. Yes, it is the dirtiest city I’ve ever been in, filled with soot and smog and low hygiene, but at the same time, as Dan said, it’s one of the most magical and beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.