Impressions of the 2014 Gabr Fellows
“Throughout my life, I grew up in Alexandria carrying the principles of Cosmopolitanism. The Gabr Fellowship for me so far has been the lively definition of multicultural understanding that I aspire to see around the world. Going through lectures, seminars, workshops, and activities along with my Egyptian and American colleagues, I feel my cultural understanding is broadening and my life being further developed.”Zeyad El-Kelani, Class of 2014
Political Science Teaching Assistant at Cairo University
“Never in my life would I have imagined someone selecting me to embark on an adventure with 19 stellar American and Egyptian individuals in regards to repairing the relations between the United States and Egypt. I am still pinching myself to verify that this experience is real and thanking my ancestors and the people who made this life changing experience possible for me and made a life goal/passion for me possible. I wouldn’t have imagined at a younger age that not only would I be talking to professionals in my field of expertise but also speaking with dignitaries, ambassadors, CEOs, teachers, etc., on topics that will give me the tools to be a true global citizen and prepped to make this world a better place to raise the next generation in. The 2014 East-West: Art of Dialogue initiative has been a blessing in my life that not only opened up a world of possibilities in a time where my dreams seemed to be unachievable but I also made connections and lifelong friendships with some of the most amazing people in the world.”Erika Witt, Class of 2014
Graduate Student, Museum Studies, Southern University at new Orleans
“In the beginning I wondered what am I doing in this program and the answer was definitely I do not belong here. Everything was just different and brand new, however it did not take too much time for me to realize that I’m so lucky to be one of the 2014 Fellows. These programs give me the chance to explore both the American and the Egyptian people. Egypt is my own country but I didn’t get the chance before to know how great it is, and I was so happy to share this experience with my American friends. I can call it a lifetime experience, a very inspiring one that I do not want it to end. I can’t wait to discover the other part of the journey the American part.”Dina Gamal, Class of 2014
Corporate Lawyer, Azmi Associates
“The plight of the poor in Cairo moves even the coldest of hearts to a position of sympathy and solidarity. As I look down upon the slums, which literally lie in the shadow of the beautiful hotel where I am staying, I cannot help but to see it as a breeding ground for resentment and eventual conflict. This raises the question of what ought to be done to address the extreme disparity that exists between the rich and poor, not only in Cairo, but across the globe. The United States has largely made its poorest population invisible, perhaps it is better to be reminded that the poor are among us always and that we have a responsibility to care for them. Surely, the first step in rectifying their situation is by being confronted with our own positions of privilege and remembering our duties to the least among us, which will be the only way we will be led to act.”Jeremiah J. Bowden, Class of 2014
PhD student in Secular Studies and Religion, Claremont Graduate University
“The program has been very interesting. I've learned so much about topics I have a limited knowledge base in, like the contemporary socioeconomic and political issues in Egypt. I'm thankful for every one of the other Fellows; we're building lifelong friendships.”Liz Trapp, Class of 2014
Art Critic, and Art History Instructor, Columbus College of Art and Design
“I am not exaggerating when I say that the Gabr Fellowship is a turning point in my life. My personal perspectives towards many things have changed after visiting the US. Meeting with high officials from the most powerful and prestigious institutions in the world was a good experience though I feel they are not the people who shape our world. On the other hand, visiting museums, art centers, theatres, and creativity centers has emphasized my belief that culture is the overriding source of power in the US. I believe the people running such places are the people who shape the world.”Ahmad El Naggar, Class of 2014
Site Planner, Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs
The 2014 Class Fellows during a tour of Egypt’s historical sites in Luxor
“The U.S. part of the fellowship was quite exciting, we got to see different sides of the United States, from the politically-centered D.C., to the hub of the civil rights movement in Atlanta, to the diverse and culturally vibrant New York. This diversity was also reflected in the speakers, from senators, to journalists, to Google ideas generators, to art curators at the MoMA and the Met. I challenged myself on many fronts and tried to keep my mind open to new ideas. I learned to accept people who hold different opinions than mine, and disagree with them with respect. All in all, it was a rich experience both on the personal and professional levels.”Yasmin Galal, Class 2014
Social Activist and Media Producer
“Diversity is a challenge? No, diversity is an added value. This is what I believe after spending four weeks among other youth with different cultures, professions, and attitudes. Being part of East-West: The Art of Dialogue was a turning point that let me start thinking about many things that happen around us from a different perspective and a broader picture. The four weeks wasn't just a cultural exchange program that shows the Fellows the other side of the world that we call the West, it was an opportunity beyond my expectations especially meeting with the policymakers, public figures, academics, artists, entrepreneurs, and a pool of international organizations and different media representatives. The Shafik Gabr Fellowship is a unique experience fostering dialogue between the East and West. ”Ahmed El Assal, Class of 2014
Regional Programs Officer at the Academy for International Development - (AID-ME)
“The program was really interesting. It was amazing to meet all the fellows and get closer to each other despite of all the differences in backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. My best time was in Al-Azhar Park where the American fellows saw and contacted with Egyptian society for the first time.”Nancy Habib, Class of 2014
Editorial Secretary, “Al-Tahrir” newspaper
“The most amazing part of this fellowship is that I have been given the human perspective on Egypt. It isn't sufficient anymore to think about the welfare and future of "Egypt." Instead, I think about the welfare and future of Yasmin, Naguib, Zeyad, Nancy, Dina & Dina, Shehab, Naggar, el Assel, and Nour. I think about the incredibly kind man who teaches me a new Arabic word every morning at breakfast and the little kid who was excited to try out his English skills with me in the park. I have unique faces, hearts, and minds, corny jokes (a few good ones, too), tears, and words of acceptance to replace the abstraction of a place so far away. These remarkable people I think of as friends give me context to exactly who it is facing the future of Egypt, bravely and with a powerful sense of motivation.”Chase Bowman, Class of 2014
“If you have gotten the chance to have a meeting at the White House, then you are lucky. If you have gotten the chance to have a meeting at White House, and the Pentagon, then you are a very lucky man. If you have gotten the chance to have a meeting at White House, the Pentagon, and the Congress, then you are a super lucky man. But, if you have got the brilliant chance to have meetings at the White House, the Pentagon, the Congress, the United Nations, the World Bank, the Council on Foreign Relations, The Department of Homeland Security, CNN, Fox News, Google Ideas, the Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial, and many other interesting & valuable places, then you are a Gabr Fellow.
This opportunity gave me the best experience I've ever had, about what the Americans think and act, and how we "Egyptians and Americans" have many common interests, not only regarding the political issues, but also the cultural and social issues.
On a personal note, I'd love to express my deep thanks to the Gabr Fellowship Foundation, and its fascinating staff, for their efforts to facilitate our program, and for being helpful during our trip.”Shehab Farouk, Class of 2014
Senior Lawyer, Sharkawi Law Office - Egypt, L.L.B , L.L.M , PhD Candidate
“I was born in Atlanta and have lived and worked in New York and D.C. for six years now. Having my Egyptian colleagues in town was like seeing my cities through new eyes. Experiencing meetings and tours through the fellows' diverse viewpoints was inspiring and has helped me to expand my own frame of reference and to see my world with a more balanced and better-informed perspective.”Stephanie Cate, Class of 2014
Executive Director, The Batonga Foundation
“This Fellowship is unique and the experience can’t be put into words. I encourage other ambitious young people who believe in building bridges to be part of the friendship we've established between Egyptians and Americans.
On the personal, professional, and intellectual levels you feel your transformation. For me, it was a growing passion and energy and belief in, and trust towards, the changes needed to build even one more stone in the peace bridge between our nations.
It exceeded my expectations in both gaining knowledge and making connections. I believe in the concept that humans are humans across the world.
I trust and believe more and more in myself not because of my skills only, but because of what I have seen and felt in the passion and beliefs of Mr. Shafik Gabr and how much he believes in me and all the Fellows and our ability for changing the world and growing as leaders.
To other young leaders I say, be positive, energetic, and motivated; Try to gain a place in this inspired and magnificent experience and be part of the global changes being worked towards.”Nourhan Moussa, Class of 2014
Attorney at Law
“The Shafik Gabr Fellowship presented for me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet talented leaders in the United States and Egypt, to visit monuments and sites, and to build tremendous friendships. In selecting me for the Fellowship, Mr. Gabr and the Fellowship team have challenged me to explore new areas of society, to broaden my ideas about the world, and to show a level of leadership beyond that which I thought I was capable. I learned how to better engage people of diverse backgrounds and the power that engagement can have in our lives. I am especially excited to be developing our action project, which will again push the boundary of what I thought I was able to do.”Michael Gofff, Class of 2014
Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Vanderbilt University
“To paint an awesome artwork you need to use a variety of colors that can strengthen each other to form the final image. My trip to the U.S. is considered to be the other colors that complement my artwork, which has delivered to me the understanding of the culture bridge structure, in addition to the inspired innovation that I have gained from the art, technology, and museums. I am looking forward to placing at least one brick as participation to build the Egypt - U.S. relationship and Cooperation Bridge.”Ahmed Naguib, Class of 2014
Digital painter, Freelancer
“I will always remember the service we attended on Father's Day at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. For me, this was a quintessential example of east-west exchange. All of the Fellows, regardless of personal beliefs, wholeheartedly embraced the experience, openly connecting with one another and the congregation as a whole. It is a morning that I will cherish and keep with me.”Suzanne Youngner, Class of 2014
Teacher, English as a Second Language
“The Gabr Fellowship exposed us to world leaders in: media, policy, military and religious organizations that move and shape Egypt, and the United States. We were able to engage on topics we agreed and strongly disagreed. These meetings stimulated further discussions between the fellows. It was here we were able to learn from each other. My biggest take away outside of the incredible relationships I have built with my fellows are twofold. First, people are people, whether they are a diplomat, a government worker or your average citizen and really want similar things whether in the US or in Egypt. There are more similarities across cultures than there are differences. Second, you must have discussions with people and engage with them regardless if you agree, nothing comes from silence or complaining, only through dialogue. We were given an opportunity to act and engage, and I hope I can continue the conversation throughout my life.”Sarah Derdowski, Class of 2014
Director of Operations, Global Energy Management Program University of Colorado Denver Business School
“The first leg of the Gabr Fellowship in Cairo was the most challenging and rewarding experience I've had while traveling abroad. The days were grueling, sometimes with sixteen hours of lectures, but it is an experience that is tremendously rewarding. From day one, I gained a thorough glimpse into the issues that are facing the future of the Egyptian society, and by the end of the week the mosaic of Egypt was comprehensive. Our group of fellows is growing stronger and more critical each day, and I'm proud to be a part of a cohort that will have a positive impact on the future of Egypt.”Nathan Thomas, Class of 2014
Educational Programs Associate, William J. Clinton Foundation
The 2014 Class Fellows at the White House, Washington, D.C.