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“Hot Spot” Interview — Report From Egypt

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I recently began a new regular interview series. There are always lots of “hot spots” around the world — places where there are natural disasters, political upheavals, etc. And English teachers can be found in most of those places. If you are an EFL/ESL teacher in one of those areas, please let me know.

Today, Ola Bakri, an English teacher in Egypt, has agreed to answer a few questions:

Can you say a little about yourself — where you grew up, where you teach, how and why you chose to become an English teacher?

I grew up in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. So, I am a city girl. I am an English teacher in the American University in Cairo. I teach general English courses. I also work as soft skills trainer.

I choose to be a teacher when I got a Fulbright scholarship to teach Arabic to undergraduates in the U.S. I fell in love with teaching especially teaching my language. When I came home, I decided to work as an English trainer and this how I started my career.

Can you share a few of the experiences and feelings you had during the Revolution?

I cannot describe it… lots of feelings that I could not imagine one day I would experience. I was scared to death. I cried when I saw many premises in my country burning. I remembered when we used to think of Palestine and Iraq as distant places and we would never become like them. I just thought how selfish I was by just following the news about “those” people and not doing a real effort for their cause. I thought about what other people are thinking about us. Do they feel what is happening here in Egypt? Or are we just those “distant people”.

During the revolution, it was the first time I spend the night scared of thugs to enter our house. Every day was a new terror that we would be invaded by the U.S to “protect our interests” as in Iraq and “free” us from the dictator and have its version of “democracy”. I was scared of Israel to break the peace treaty. We were exposed to different kinds of rumors whether by our national television or by international news. Thank goodness these days are over.

How do you think the Revolution will affect your life and the lives of your students in the coming years?

Really, I do not know how it will affect my life or my students’ life. But, I think that none of our generation has witnessed any wars or disputes as our parents and grandparents. Therefore, this is our “event” that would narrate to our children and grandchildren. I think this revolution brought up awareness to many Egyptians who want their country to be better. Currently, we are in a transitional time and do not know what will happen in the future. Hopefully, we will pass through it safely.

Finally, the world is very small and all of us are living on the same ship, so what’s happening here someday it may be at your place. The peoples of the world should collaborate together to make it a great place to line in and that includes Green Earth initiatives and supporting your fellow human beings wherever they are because some day you will need them.

Thanks, Ola!

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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