Impressions of the 2013 Gabr Fellows

Impressions of the 2013 Gabr Fellows

“There are seldom times that a truly transformative opportunity comes along in one’s life. For me, the Gabr Fellowship was one such opportunity. I enjoyed most of all learning from and cultivating life-long friendships with other young American leaders and our Egyptian counterparts. Also, meeting with thought-makers and influencers in policy, foreign affairs, health care, corporate business, media and communications, as well as with artists, community advocates, and cultural ambassadors, provided us with a multi-faceted glimpse into life in America and Egypt, clarifying differences and illuminating the many similarities of the two nations. Serving as the backdrop to the formal program, which allowed us to discuss critical issues in seminars and discussions, it was the informal, unstructured time during our traveling together to the various cities we visited that enabled us to really create cross-cultural understanding. It has been an honor and privilege for me to in the first cohort of Gabr Fellows, and I’m increasingly encouraged to believe that even 10 Egyptians and 12 Americans, as well as other young people who desire to create a world of peace and progress, will be able to do so because as Margaret Mead has said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." We hope to do so. ”
Haroun Habib, Gabr Fellow. December 10th 2013

“The Gabr Fellowship has provided us as Fellows with a unique and life-changing experience. In our travels throughout the United States and Egypt we have gained deep insights into the dynamics of intercultural dialogue between the West and the Arab world, and we are now well equipped to continue as leaders and ambassadors on our mission to help foster an improved and broaden intercultural dynamic in the spheres of business, law, economics, and the arts. We have seen first-hand some of the challenges that await us on our path towards this new dialogue but we are now traveling it with a group of 20 lifelong friends, united by our shared experience. ”
Jeff Walls, Gabr Fellow. November 20th 2013

“The Gabr Fellowship experience has been personally, professionally, and intellectually transformative. It is clear to me that the underlying dynamics that provoke the growing Western and Arab chasm are governed by a set of politicized mechanisms that are perpetuated by fear and ignorance of ourselves and of each other. These structurally imposed misperceptions that have driven a wedge in-between our cultures must be shattered if we wish for peace and prosperity to blossom. Anything short of this is mutual destruction. My participation as a Gabr Fellow continues to demonstrate the critical roll that open dialogue and creative diplomacy must play in designing a future that my generation can be proud of. ”
Morgan Williams, Gabr Fellow. November 22nd 2013

“The Gabr fellowship was an inspiring experience that allowed me to have a solid vision about my future plans. During the trip, I discovered and learned a lot about me and my country, through exploring the American people lives and culture. Understanding the similarities and differences gave me a sense of how important it is for us to collaborate and cooperate in order for Egypt to develop, narrow the culture gap to overthrow the misunderstandings and strengthen the bond between both countries. The most successful aspect of that fellowship was attending meetings with top officials, experts, and public intellectuals that helped me comprehend different perspectives and evaluations during a critical time in both countries besides networking and developing contacts. But most importantly, what made this fellowship unique was the company of the fellows who were carefully selected and highly qualified. I look forward to having more experiences with such a great group of people in the near future and to implement our action projects to achieve the aim of such fellowship initiative and become international bridge builders and personally represent Egypt. ”
Mogha Morsy, Gabr Fellow. November 23rd 2013

“It is a life changing experience." This is the first answer comes to my mind when asked about my impression on the fellowship. The amount of knowledge and life experience I gained far exceeded my expectations. For instance, the access we, as fellows, had to world renowned public figures played an essential role in addressing the challenges we face from a local, as well as global perspective. This gave us the chance to understand the origin of our differences, and at the same time, appreciate the similarities we share, and eventually we became friends, for life. A few months ago, if someone told me that I am going to meet with White House officials, and tell them how I feel towards their policies on Egypt, I would have been very sceptical about it. But this is just a part of what we had the chance to experience through this fellowship. In addition to that, surprisingly, I didn't only learn about the US, but I also learned many, and new things about my own country, Egypt. In conclusion, if I have the chance to continue being part of it, I would definitely do it over and over and over again. ”
Mohammed Mubarak, Gabr Fellow. November 19th 2013

“It’s such an honor to be one of 10 Egyptians chosen to represent Egypt in this wonderful initiative. Thanks to Gabr Fellowship I now believe that even though my country is in turmoil, I still can make a difference. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I’m glad I didn`t miss, and I am blessed to have met such amazing people from Egypt and the United States. ”
Ahmed Elhabibi, Gabr Fellow. November 25th 2013

“Between the first part of the fellowship in Egypt in June and the second part of the fellowship in the United States in October, it seemed as if a world had changed. Egypt had undergone a regime change, Egypt-U.S. relations worsened, and mutual popular perception was at an all time low. However, amidst this backdrop, the personal bonds between the Egyptian and American fellows could not have been stronger. Despite the political strains between the governments, the fellows were bound together by a common understanding and hope for a better future for both countries. The Gabr Fellowship helped us recognize a common vision, and I hope the relationship between our countries will also be strengthened by the same vision for freedom and a better tomorrow. ”
Leslie Lang, Gabr Fellow. November 25th 2013

“A few months ago, in the aftermath of a personal tragedy. I decided to leave everything familiar and go out of my comfort zone. At the same time, I was accepted into the program and my version of "eat, Love and pray" just started with this acceptance. Actually, I went to America to meet the Americans; instead, I met myself. In spite of the different backgrounds, I met myself in the 19 other Gabr Fellows with whom I shared the journey. I found my soul in the high-speed motion of NY City and in in the homeless people on the streets. In Times Square, I heard myself in Spanish, English, Urdu and even some languages I’ve never heard before. I saw my reflection in the Martin Luther King Memorial in Atlanta. I saw myself as a child, playing in the same neighbourhood Dr. King played in. I let my grief fall with the yellow and orange leaves of autumn in Washington. The city contradictions was nothing but my own ones. Gabr fellowship for me is a lifetime event. I've learned to understand and appreciate others. I learnt to accept humanity in others, in order to accept me as human being.”
Noha Eid, Gabr Fellow. November 25th 2013

“The first several days spent with my new friends in Cairo have allowed me to begin constructing an informed perspective of the historically enshrined meaning of the social experience of being Egyptian. The residual mentality of 'the Pharaohs rule' is being confronted by the sum of a globally informed technoactivist generation who see beyond the confines of the pyramids, to other realities, while choosing not to lose the fundamental identity that the pyramids in the foreground symbolize. The Egypt of today is an applied experience, attempting to fluidly operate under the conditions of multiple, distinct, moments in time. An Egypt that is fighting to embrace the tools and inertia needed to bridge the chasms of perpetually reinforced boundaries, chiseling away with a conviction to engineer a more equitable and productive society.”
Morgan Williams, Gabr Fellow. June 5th 2013

“This fellowship program has been an engaging, eye-opening learning experience of important issues effecting Egypt, which has enabled me to think deeply and cultivate a desire to work with other Americans and Egyptian counterparts on how to address and find sustainable solutions to address these problems. With the excellent speakers who have spoken on a vast range of subjects, I feel I have gained a better understanding of the daily political struggles that Egyptians are experiencing as well as some of the many cultural and artistic gifts that Egypt continues to offer to the world. As my time in Egypt continues, I look forward to using this knowledge to craft an effective, sustainable action project in collaboration with American and Egyptian fellows alike.”
Haroun Habib, Gabr Fellow. June 5th, 2013

“The fellowship has been rich in striking moments so far, moments that have cast the dynamics and challenges of east-west dialog in sharp relief. Some of the most indelible to me include the debate between several of the Egyptian fellows and our tour guide on the bus after the Egyptian museum, the frank and unflinching appraisal of Egypt's potential near term future given by Dr. Ghoneim on Tuesday morning, and Bahia Shehab, the professor and activist who spoke of her street level activism during our visit to AUC's campus yesterday. Together these are painting a picture of a country full of passion ad commitment to enacting a lasting, inclusive change, and the tribulations and difficulties that accompany that quest for change.”
Jeff Walls, Gabr Fellow. June 6th 2013

“The last several days of lectures and travel has been eye opening and exciting. I was especially intrigued by Dr. Ahmed Darwish, Chairman, IEEE Egypt Section, who spoke of his struggles to utilize technology to improve government services and access to the government. Not surprisingly, it has been a struggle for Egypt to bring together various levels of government and pull together information that is separated in individual data silos. This is a challenge being faced across the world, including in Los Angeles. For instance, Los Angeles is working to identifying those who qualify for services (reduced rates for utilities, EITC, etc) and reaching out to them proactively - rather than waiting for them to apply to individual programs. The goal being to create efficiencies for both government and the individual constituent, and ensure families and individuals are receiving the services for which they qualify. Dr. Darwish had s similar goal - but expanded it beyond just services to the concept of creating greater public involvement in decision making (e.g. text message voting on hot topics). To me, this is a fascinating concept, and could either result in the public feeling closer to decision makers or hijacked by a small group of special interests, which could further alienate the population from the government. I look forward to reading more about the Egyptian case studies and seeing if there are lessons and/or best practices that could be integrated into our work to improve the use of technology in government in LA and beyond.”
Becca Doten, Gabr Fellow. June 6th 2013

“Ever since the fellowship started it has been a whirlwind of information and instant experiences. I suppose the aspect that intrigues me the most is the array of characters and fields these impressive personalities bring onboard. My only concern that the issue of security and safety as well as a cramped schedule has impeded upon a direct exposure to real culture so far. However I'm optimistic that this might change in the upcoming days and esp. in Alexandria and Luxor. I enjoyed and was very much inspired by Mrs. Bahia Shehab.”
Mariam Ibrahim, Gabr Fellow. June 6th 2013

“A theme emerging from my learning about Egypt has been trying to grasp the nuances of Islamic life in modern times. At the hotel, rooming together as a 33 year old accustomed to more solo travel wasn't something I was initially thrilled with. But from the first day it's been a delight and a crucial use of time. It's given me a chance to ask more intimate questions as I process what I've learned. And I can see how devout Islamic practices blends with daily life. ”
Alex Goldmark, Gabr Fellow. June 6th 2013

“Although only a few days into the program, the Gabr Fellowship has already been an impactful and insightful experience that has not only opened a window into Egyptian life and politics but also a window into the special qualities that make for strong leaders in the time of turbulence. The speakers and Mr. Gabr himself exhibit a strong passion for their areas of expertise and for their country that inspires me as a young leader. My Egyptian peers in the program have been equally inspiring as I learn from their extraordinary hope and idealism that translates not only into words but also actions. I am honored to be amongst such special individuals and I look forward to working along their side once I return to the states.”
Leslie Lang, Gabr Fellow. June 6th 2013

“Already, after just a few days, I'm struck by the extent to which our two nations' respective problems are similar, albeit to differing degrees. In the same manner, there seems to be a common set of core values that the fellows bring to the dialogue. And despite the great variety of professional backgrounds among us, there is also a common thread of personal orientation toward public service, a very evident and inspiring desire to effect meaningful change toward the betterment of our democracies and the lives of our fellow world citizens.”
Christina Fallon, Gabr Fellow. June 6th 2013

“I entered the Gabr Fellowship with the assumption that Egypt and America were both struggling with very different challenges. In the last four days, however, I've come to realize that the origin of our challenges is actually rooted in similar problems - disparity of income, gender and racial inequality, religion invading the political structure and a hugely disappointed and economically limited millennial class. What comes next, I'm not sure. But one certainty I do have is that the group of Fellows I'm with is not satisfied with the status of either nation, and is bound to use this experience to develop forward-thinking solutions for the long term.”
Verdana Partalo, Gabr Fellow. June 6th 2013

“The past few days have been a busy yet interesting experience. I think the group fits perfectly together & we've all hit it off together quite fast. I particularly enjoyed the talks by Bahia Shehab & Sara El Sayed...”
Heba Safwat, Gabr Fellow. June 6th 2013

“Having spent so much of the last year writing about Egypt and her constitution in a detached academic vein, I now have much more by way of context to add weight and relevance to my understanding of happenings in this land. Egypt is no longer an abstract concept to me and that makes a powerful difference in how I find myself viewing her; this was what I most wanted to accomplish in coming here, and in this respect the program has been all I could have hoped for. On a personal level, the tales from the revolution; particularly when told by a diverse assortment of bloggers, graffiti artists and our peer fellows offers a richer perspective and political scientists have at times been somewhat bittersweet given my own time as dissident and protester during the Venezuelan student movement of 2006-2007. Nominally Egypt's revolution succeeded where our movement failed yet when I met the two gentlemen from the brotherhood today, with their excuses, vagueties and platitudes I could have sworn I was speaking to Chavistas....”
Daniel Lansberg Rodriguez, Gabr Fellow. June 6th 2013

“My first few days in the fellowship were more than amazing. The fellows are really nice and friendly except for some who just need some time to adapt and my lovely room mate, I am really blessed to have her. The program is heavy but its good. I liked most of the sessions but some were really boring. The food is great but the space between meals is short. The co-ordinators are doing more than their best to keep us comfortable and safe. I'm enthusiastic about the next few days.”
Reem Solliman, Gabr Fellow. June 8th 2013

“The Gabr Fellowship has commenced a seminal event in the life of our generation. The breadth of varied talents, characters, and unbridled curiosities gathered are answering the call to fulfill the vision of the East-West Dialogue with thoughtful candor, intellectual vibrancy, and inspired enthusiasm. We have engaged in dialogue with aplomb and quickly established deep bonds of friendship, respect, and mutual appreciation for one another. The discourse continues earnestly, the bonds strengthen daily, the ideas flow mightily, the vision is shared passionately, and I believe we shall rise to meet the charge before us and build that more perfect world for the 21st Century, together.”
Daniel Sullivan, Gabr Fellow. June 7th 2013

“The Egyptian fellows, with backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives so different than my own, have been so open to discussions and questions on a variety of topics. Long, wandering conversations on the bus have been a bright silver lining in the cloud of Cairo traffic. The access to speakers has been excellent, but the fellows themselves have been my most valued sources.”
Beth Cartier, Gabr Fellow. June 8th 2013

“After spending those amazing days with the American fellows, I can say now that the east is definitely meeting the west, not only physically, but through the surprisingly common challenges as well. What we have to do now is to make this meeting fruitful through sustaining creative mutual action projects. Our batteries are now recharged for working together and all the credit goes to Gabr Foundation and Humanity in Action. Thank You!!”
Moataz ElSayed , Gabr Fellow. June 8th 2013

“Gabr fellowship for me was a great rich experience, being in this program with all those great different minds, amazing speakers, was just a privilege, I think that an East West dialogue is the only way to find a common ground, I enjoyed the diversity of specialties of the fellows, and the very distinguished profiles of our speakers, I can say that I richened my knowledge of my own country and looking forward to the American program.” Thank you
Amr Ismael, Gabr Fellow. June 8th 2013

“The more I get along with people who come from different cultures and background, the more I become aware of our similarities. I always believe in diversity as a main source of power to the human society. At that program,I am learning that all we need -as human being- is to give each other a space to grow, to be who we are and to accept ourselves in order to accept other people.This experience will remain forever with me because I am giving and receiving such beautiful things like openness, ideas, joy, respect and healing. I am deeply grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in such incredible program.”
Noha Eid, Gabr Fellow. June 8th 2013

“A week that just feels like a month time, still a life time experience with different activities and knowledgable speakers, whom I was inspired by some like Dr Zahi Hawas, Mrs Bahia Shehab, Dr Ahmed Ghoniem, Dr Ahmed Darwish and Chris Khalifa. Also I appreciate the chance of visiting different Egyptian sites that I've never had to chance to visit, despite the fact that everyone is exhausted. Overall the whole program is fruitful, as I am learning about many other fields other than my profession. So I am enjoying my time, my fellows, my gorgeous room mate and still observing and exploring the other culture.”
Mohga Ahmed, Gabr Fellow. June 8th 2013

“Being part of this program is a privilege. The program is such a unique once in a lifetime experience not to be missed. It was designed with respect to every participants needs and areas of interest. The participants have the opportunity to discuss and interact with high-profile speakers from different disciplines. For me, the best part of the program is when I get involved in provocative intellectual discussions with highly skilled counterparts from the US as well as Egypt. I believe that those discussions are the foundations for building a bridge of common understandings. Also, The coordination team is very helpful. They don't save an effort to make us feel comfortable. Confidently, I can say that I am enjoying every second of the program till now and I am sure that the upcoming days of it is even better.”
Mohammed Mubarak, Gabr Fellow. June 8th 2013

“The fellowship so far has been a very nice experience. The American Fellows are wonderful and I so much enjoyed the speakers, especially Bahia Shehab. Also our tours have been great and it's a great experience to see these sites. I'm looking greatly forward to the rest of the trip with this wonderful group, and I know I will learn so much.”
Ahmed El Habibi, Gabr Fellow. June 8th 2013

“We are now in our route to the luxor. And After spending 11 days since the beginning of this program, I can frankly say that my family has grown with an additional 24 members! As a matter of fact, I deal with them now on that basis, to the extent that when I talk with my mother, she always asks me about our new members in our family, and asks if I have taught them Arabic or not yet.
I've learned significantly about Egypt since I got the chance to visit various places and explore further details about the Egyptian culture and its deep-rooted history, which I haven’t had the opportunity to be exposed to before. I also value the views I’ve heard from all the speakers, whether it was associated with arts, politics, economics, history or technology.
I am grateful to Shafik Gabr Foundation for this program or else, I would have honestly regretted it if I hadn’t joined this fellowship. I am waiting enthusiastically to complete the second part of this program in the US.
I really believe that this program has succeeded in its aim which is finding a common language dialogue to connect the East and the West together. I believe that no matter how different we look and how diverse we are, there will always be something that binds us together, whether it was Arts, Literature, Science, Technology or even humanity and feelings”
Ahmed Nagy, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“After an immersion into Egyptian politics and culture through speaking events in Cairo, I have enjoyed the opportunity to reflect upon the ideas and information with the other fellows in the more relaxed cities of Alexandria and Luxor. As I see more of Egypt and get to know the Egyptian fellows on a deeper level, my perception of the country has been evolving as additional brushstrokes of insight are added to a picture that was created during our sessions in Cairo. Although as an outsider, I do not expect the picture to ever be complete, I have developed a deep affection for this country and the individuals who are fighting for the values that will make Egypt and the world a better place. I am hoping that the action project will be one small way to contribute, and one step towards greater actions in the future.”
Leslie Lang, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“The action projects stage, special minds dialogue, where everyone is bringing his best to the group, and everyone is waiving his own idea for the sake of a better one. Hope we could be able to translate our past efforts into practical efficient projects.”
Moataz Hussein, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“The second week of the fellowship is giving the American and Egyptian fellows a chance to get to know one another better and exchange on personal, social levels. The action project discussions are giving us the opportunity to learn about each others' skills and work together towards common creative goals. It will be exciting to reunite in October with these strong bonds and common experience of Egypt between us.”
Bessie Young, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“There is something about Egypt that has induced a child-like wonder in all of us. Be it the Mediterranean coast in Alexandria or the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, our hearts feel filled with endurance and our brains with inspiration. This land is magic.”
Veda Partalo, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“Its a great pleasure to be a part of this great project, the speakers were amazing and they have given us a powerful insight on the key challenges that are facing Egypt nowadays. Our time in alexandria and luxor gave the group a chance to discuss the various subjects that were presented to us during our time in Cairo. I love our American fellows and the small talks I had with my different roommates as they were very enriching to me. This fellowship is simply the best thing that has ever happened to me and I'm so grateful for this opportunity.”
Ahmed Habibi, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“My past few days in the Fellowship were the hardest, yet am still blessed to be here the Action projects began, and at first I was kind of depressed because I couldn't apply my idea, everyone accepted to help but they also preferred to make their own idea with their own group, so I decided to choose the closest thing to my skills , seek the opportunity in it, and try to give it my best and my own touch. My group now are giving more ideas, brainstorming and planning. On the other side, I just loved Alexandria and now Luxor, I can see Youssef Chahine everywhere in Winter Palace, learning so much about myself and about life. I'm now looking forward to the Action Project final plan.”
Reem Soliman, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“This week, as the schedule has died down some, we have been given a much stronger opportunity to get to know our Egyptian counterparts both as individuals and within a larger group dynamic. Without in any way disparaging the wonders we have seen, and analytical insight that have been shared with us, this has likely been the best part of the program. I feel I have found much in common with many of my new Egyptian friends and have been consistently surprised and delighted at their warmth, gaiety, and great generosity. I very much look forward to continuing to work and share with them and for reciprocating their welcoming nature in the US portion of the fellowship. Thanks again for the wonderful opportunity.”
Daniel Rodriguez, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“As the first leg of the fellowship draws to a close, I find myself reflecting back on the indelible impressions that have been left on me thus far: the warm welcome of the Egyptian fellows, lively conversation about everything from politics to football. The beauty of this country; the stark desert palette rushing past the bus windows, the kinetic liveliness of Cairo, the blinking multicolored lights strung from minarets. The beauty of the corniche in Alexandria, gazing out over the sea. The surprisingly lush greenery along the Nile, and the farmers working their land in much the same way as they have for generations. And of course the awe inspiring archaeological sites; the stunning beauty of the persevered paint on the tombs of the nobles, relating tales of industry and conquest from 3000 years ago. I am looking forward to unpacking this experience over the coming weeks as work in our action projects begins, and I feel a deep gratitude for the opportunities that I have been presented with on the fellowship.”
Jeff Walls, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“Graffiti-ed dreams of change from a revolution not yet fully realized
Scattered around the city of 1000 minarets,
Layers of history wrapped within papyrus scrolls,
The enduring genius of the first civilization on display at Giza,
Still as transfixing as the Sphinx.
Walking in Alexandria, I saw Saeed's “Girl with the Brown Eyes,”
And in a reverie, I lost myself in the tresses of her,
Long, flowing, black hair that seemed to trace the length of the Cornish
Next to waters that hide an underwater city.
Soft sands, a metropolis echoing the Greeks and Romans,
An ideal atmosphere to create sumptuous, timeless art.
For as Fahmy said, “Artists are romantics
And romantics are the dreamers.”
I awoke in historic Luxor, to be amazed at the sight
Of the Valley of the Kings and Queens,
Preserved, majestic palaces and colorful temples
Where through sound and light,
I reimagined Tutankhamen, Nefertiti, and Hatshepsut
And perhaps, from looking at the ancient past,
Foresee a glorious future.
Misr, seen through foreign eyes,
What happens when East meets West?
And 22 young leaders are called upon under the vision of Gabr?
Dialogue, understanding, fellowship, and action.
Perhaps, it is they who will create a vision of the future benefiting both locales
A movement as beautiful as Gérôme and Dinet’s.”
Haroun Habib, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“During these nearly two weeks of travel, study, and dialogue in Egypt we have discussed at length the country's precarious situation not just in terms of stability but also with regard to effective governance. In this pivotal period it seems there is a particular need for the nation's dedicated and educated young people to apply their great talents and energy toward the tangible details of public policy and to be informed participants in the national debate over such areas as infrastructure, the economy, the environment, public health, social welfare, and education-- the same set of core policy issues that every democracy must constantly strive to ensure are effectively addressed and also appropriately reflective of the people's collective needs and the nation's strategic path forward. In the U.S. it can be difficult to get younger people engaged on these often mundane yet vital aspects of governance, and I sense that the same is currently true here in Egypt. However, this rich Fellowship experience has shown me that my Egyptian contemporaries absolutely possess the will and talent to meet these great challenges and because of that, I am optimistic for the future of their country.”
Christina Fallon, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“It's been satisfying to get to the planning phase of action projects. I'm enjoying collaborating with people from different fields and dreaming up a project that keeps me working at the edges of my own area of expertise. Now we just have to pull it off.”
Alex Goldmark, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“It's been great to watch people approach the action projects, with everyone trying to figure how their specific skill set could be used to tackle an issue of interest. The action project is a major opportunity to further the conversations started by the fellows.”
Beth Cartier, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“Egypt is at a critical junction in its history. The problems confronted by its people on a daily basis are structural, entrenched, and long-term. The fragility of the countries social, political, economic, and environmental systems is being perpetually weakened by mismanagement, daily power outages, fuel shortages, ongoing threats to water security, economic stagnation, political short-sightedness and the slow deterioration of public moral. The leaders of today are forced to balance short-term crisis management with these long-term fundamental imbalances, and in so doing, further inflate the social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities that threaten the national security and sovereignty of generations to come.
Fortunately, the complexities faced by the Egyptian people are not unlike those being confronted by other global societies in the east and the west alike. However, it remains to be seen if the heavy reminders an of Egyptian stick-to-itiveness and attention to detail that gave birth to mathematics, astronomy, engineering, and complex medicine over 6,000 years ago can be channeled into developing the next great Egyptian society with the help of their friends.
I do not doubt that the success of Egypt will depend on supporting the optimism broadly shared by a young and vocal generation of Egyptians. An optimism that is secular, educated, forgiving, socially just, and unafraid of taking risks and trying things differently. A generation that is represented by those I've been so very fortunate to grow close to and begin collaborating with during my short time in Egypt as a Gabr Fellow.”
Morgan Williams, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“The past week and a half in Egypt has been an amazing, awe-inspiring and thought provoking experience. Touring Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor has allowed me to glimpse into the lives and experiences of Egyptians from across the country and soak-in the incredible history of the region. The presentations and lectures have created a foundation of understanding regarding the current situation in Egypt and provided background information that we see come to life as we drive through the streets, eat a meal at a local restaurant or experience the grandeur of one of the ancient temples. And while it is an amazing country to visit, Egypt is a country in great turmoil. Perhaps one of the most striking and concerning examples we see of the current regional strife is the near total lack of tourism. Time and time again, we are the only or one of the few tourist groups at the historical sites which have the capacity for thousands of tourists per day. This drastically impacts the economy and negatively effects individual Egyptians and their families. For instance, one of our tour guides, a trained Egyptologist and Archaeologist, last led a tour group a month and a half ago. Additionally, because of the current government's policies, archaeology has all but stopped, leaving him without either kind of work for months at a time. And this is just one example. With so many factors that will influence the immediate future of Egypt (revolution, tourism, water, power, religion, politics), it will be a long road to recovery. My hope is that the country and the people of Egypt can come through this tough period quickly, ending with the creation of a stronger country where more people have the opportunity to thrive, the economy grows strong and tourists will once again flock to the region to experience the same amazing history and sites that I have experienced these past days.”
Becca Doten, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“Towards the end of this experience, I feel the most I've gotten out of it, is the human connection. I feel the fellows have come to understand each other more and have formed a sense of initial trust to some extent. I believe the dynamics of the group work quite well and it shall reveal itself more when we start materializing our action projects. We have been given a great opportunity that is too good to waste and through the places and people we've met so far, we've been inspired in one way or another. I still feel however (baring in mind security issues) that the US fellows could've gotten to know more about the modern egyptian by dwelling among the streets and having a bit more freedom to move around, in Cairo specifically. Being in Luxor has especially inspired, and saddened me, because this is where the beauty of egyptian history, and the impact of economic downturn and instability is more apparent all in one. This is a place that needs us and needs to be revived. I believe overall, I've learned a bit more about myself and country, and I will certainly miss the experience, and I'm definitely looking forward to October and our U.S. visit.”
Mariam Ibrahim, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“As the Egyptian part of the program comes to an end, I have to say that it was an eye-opening experience in which, I have had the chance to address the common issues between Egypt, and the US and discuss it with the fellows. The fellows from both sides have shown overwhelming passion for their areas of interests and surprisingly, have shown an interest in other fields of study that are different from their professional backgrounds. This diverse range of interests and openness to learn others has created a very engaging and intellectually stimulating atmosphere. Through the thoughtful discussions, we shared our visions for a better tomorrow and established a close bond of friendship, and respect. Moreover, we had the chance to brain storm on our action projects and form groups of counterparts with similar concepts. Action project ideas are very diverse and original and I can easily expect that the final product of each project will best represent the uniqueness of the experience and the variety of skills in the group. I eagerly look forward to being exposed to the US context in order to incorporate it into the action project along with my counterparts.”
Mohammed Mubarak, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“In the aftermath of a vigorous trek through the political arena, cultural nuance, artistic brilliance, and historical legacy of Cairo and its pyramids, we ventured to the namesake coastal city of Alex to be washed in the singular charm of its beauty and intellectual vibrancy. Our bonds were strengthened further in an intimate exchange of ideas, hopes, concerns, and experiences. Luxor has imprinted itself in my memory and soul for it epitomizes the heart of Egypt and its matchless heritage. The purpose of our mission appears clear as we solidified our action projects, simultaneously adventuring to the ruins of ancient empires while breathing the life of the Nile and understanding that we are but shadows passing through whose purpose, in our respective segment of a century, is to build the future so that others may seek the perfect world we now pursue.”
Daniel Sullivan, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“In just 2 weeks I did learn alot about life, world and me. In spite of some difficulties we face specially at the project actions phase, we all so eager to achieve the main goals of this fellowship. We want to prove that Yes we can work, cooperate and live together. Today is the end of our program here in Egypt and I will miss all the fellows alot.”
Noha Eid, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 2013

“At the end of two weeks of travelling to Alexandria and Luxor and living closely and constantly with the fellows, I feel I have developed a stronger bond with everyone even the people I did not approach at the beginning which made the whole trip and program more exciting and enjoyable, I was reminded that I should not judge nor build on first impressions that most of the time mislead and how to see the good in everyone and find the similarities that could bring us together . Moreover regarding the action project that was the phase where I struggled a bit as I wanted to have an awareness campaign about human rights but plans changed and I had to decide to work on a different subject that am really interested with now. Finally the program is ending. I'll miss everyone. I had a great time. I learned more about the other culture and shared great memories that I'll always remember.”
Mohga Ahmed, Gabr Fellow. June 17th 20133

“The Shafik Gabr fellowship was effective influence for both Americans & Egyptians, we knew alot about each other even on the personal level, we got closer. The Americans got to know a lot about the Egyptian culture, it's funny that the Americans learnt some words of our language so quickly. Besides that I think the Egyptians felt a bit frustrated due to the phase our country passing through & we need to do some change by collaborating & working on our action projects. I am looking forward to going to the US to meet the west culture.”