Interviewee: Ibrah’(H’my) El Kazaz
Interviewer: Asya İğmen
1) What is your average weekday and weekend like?
I like to go to the cinema and watch movies and study. Sometimes I’ll visit Alexandria, another city in Egypt, because my extended family lives there so I visit them.
– How many hours do you go to school?
From 7:40 am to 3:15 pm with 2 ten minute breaks and one 40 minute lunch that includes prayer time, so about 6 hours 30 minutes pure school work and 8 hours normal school
– How many hours of homework do u have weekdays & weekends?
Every day is different because we almost always have projects and stuff because of IB, but sometimes, I would get like a day in which teachers wouldn’t give me any homework, but at times like these I would work on things that are due in the future, like the Extended Essay. On average if I organize my self right I would have like 2 hours of homework a day with an hour or more of studying from Sunday-Wednesday, then I don’t do homework on Thursday. Then Friday I work for about 3-4 hours, and Saturday like around 5 hours. But this is all because of IB and it normally never happens because we usually have projects and stuff.
– How many hours do u have for yourself weekday & weekend?
I have about 5 hours on average, which includes eating, showering, going to sports practice. If you read above you’ll see why this almost never happens. And almost 10 hours each day free time on week-ends.
2) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself as a young Director helping the MUN/TEDx communities in my old school and College. Hopefully married, or on the verge. I will be helping the Egyptian Cinema Community purge itself from bad editing and stupid issues but being more intellectual even in its comedy.
3) What is your favorite thing you like about living in Egypt?
My favorite thing about living in Egypt is the fact that my life is in Egypt. Also there is not as much of a competition in Egypt in most things. I mean there is a lot of potential in Egyptian Talent but no one has really taken advantage of it. Therefore, it makes it easier to be the best at something if your one of the firsts to try it. There are about 60 clubs in some schools in America, almost 10 in our school, which is considered a lot by most standards, making it easier to start an initiative and start something.
4) What do you dislike most about living in Egypt?
The pollution and the disorganization. I once tried to go to a movie, there was so much traffic I missed the movie in traffic. When I gave up and decided to go home, it took me exactly 5 minutes. There has to be something wrong there. One time I was in the mall and then I went home smelling like I had rubbed cigarettes onto my shirt even though I hadn’t met any one smoking. And it’s IMPOSSIBLE to leave a taxi smoke free, and don’t even get me started on public transport like busses and metro stations. One last thing, I know I’m talking a lot but this is a serious issue, the disorganization in medical hospitals. One time a guy found out from a doctor he only had few months to live and attempted to kill himself, only to find out later from another doctor that he was at the prime of his life and that the other doctor messed up with the scan and was not sure how to read it anyways.
5) What are Egyptian students most passionate about?
One year ago I would have definitely answered Soccer for boys and 90210/Gossip Girl/Vampire Diaries for girls, but because of the revolution everyone is mostly into politics. Even though the buzz has died down politics still comes up in almost every conversation, also, I live in a very specific type of Egyptian community, I cant really speak for less fortunate students, some of them need to worry about weather they will still be living in their house the next day or on the streets.
6) What do Egyptian students know about Turkey and how do they view Turkish people?
Not much, most guys know a bit about the Turkish soccer team because, well they know most soccer teams. A LOT of people know about Erdoğan and love him a lot. Others know mostly about the Ottoman Empire but not much about modern Turkey. And of course, most people know about the fact that Turkey is in two continents, Europe and Asia.
7) If someone were to visit Egypt, where would you recommend they visit first?
The pyramids, the Nile, “Khan el khalili”, Tahrir (ESPECIALLY if there are protests happening at the time), Luxor and Aswan are known to have great museums and antiques but I’ve never been there myself. Also they should go to Alexandria , the beach is great to walk next to and if your there go to Jilaty Azza (Best ice cream ever), the Library of Alexandria (Best books ever).
8) Any one interesting fact about the Egyptian way of life?
Love. People always feel empathy towards each other and try to help each other especially in times of crisis. For example there were doctors working in Tahrir for free during the revolution. The shed of Egyptian blood is the reason one million people went in the streets to Tahrir in January and November.
9) It’s been over a year since the protests erupted in Cairo, how was it like to live through a revolution? What were the reactions of people around you when Mubarak and his regime ended? Finally, has anything truly changed in your daily lives after Mubarak’s resignation and then death? Are your thoughts optimistic for Egypt’s future?
At the beginning it was very exciting. I couldn’t believe people were really in the street finally going against the President I had known to hate my whole life. It was really disappointing not being able to go in the streets, because, according to my older brother: I was too young to go. But at the same time it was a relief because it was a scary idea going in the streets. After a while there were only two emotions going in the hearts of Egyptians: fear and determination. Everyone was afraid of the blood shed and they were afraid for their families, but they were determined, some were determined to convince people not to go in the streets others determined to stay in the Tahrir until their last breath or until Mubarak stepped down. The people that were telling others not to go to Tahrir were doing so because they wanted stability in Egypt and they wanted Mubarak gone but they thought the first was more important. On February 11th 2011, something amazing happened, the fear was gone and the determination was rewarded. I was at home alone at the time, and was called by my brother to hear the news. When I heard I jumped in joy shouting and screaming and celebrating without having anyone to celebrate with anyways. As soon as I could I was in Tahrir, in a HUGE crowd celebrating the resignation of Mubarak, unfortunately though, he wasn’t dead yet, even though he deserved, at the very least, death. After the first couple of days of euphoria, I was back in school. As soon as we got back students told stories of their heroic and dramatic experiences, until today I’m still hearing new things about what happened to people in those 18 days, especially the first few. And as I mentioned before the main thing that changed was the fact that everyone became a politician, first and foremost now, no matter your age or gender, if you were an Egyptian you had to argue about the things that were happening in the political world. My family day is Friday, and on that day the whole family has to start arguing about politics at some point. I really hate it because I’m not even old enough to vote, what’s the point of arguing about candidates and decisions if I’m still not going to have an official political voice in the next year. Egypt’s future is something that is very hard to expect. Egypt has the potential, right now, to become the leader of the Arab world and play a hand in uniting us all to become one Arab nation once again. But that all depends on whether Egypt will be able to fix itself first, a lot of people want to fix Egypt. The problem is they keep arguing about how to do it. I don’t know if you can call what I feel optimism, it’s closer to hopeful.
10) Egypt’s incredible history and immense cultural mix makes it the most attractive country in the region for travellers. Do you think the advanced tourism in Egypt has overall had more positive or negative effects?
I believe that it is a positive effect for many reasons. First of which, is that it improves people’s view on the Arab world. What worries me, though, is the fact that many people around the world mistook Egypt for being about the Pyramids and living in Medieval times, many people I have spoken to were surprised we had cars or the internet. What is good is that when people actually visit Egypt they understand what it’s really about and the revolution really helped in re-shaping people’s opinions of Egypt. Tourists are also really interesting because they make Egypt a place that can deal with people from around the world. Unfortunately, during the revolution I heard from one of my friends that up to 1 million Egyptians lost their jobs because of the tourism industry going down the drain but I’m not sure if this is true though. In the past year the industry has been growing back though as more and more people are regarding Egypt as a safe place. And you should really come to Egypt, it is getting much safer and either way Egyptian people would protect their foreign friends with their lives if they had to and some did have to in the revolution. So come and see the great pyramids J.