ASD student survived the Egyptian Revolution


Photographer: Nairy Avedissian

Fatima G. , Activities section editor

“Being a victim and facing these challenges was probably one of the scariest and overwhelming experiences ever.” This was the mark of the Egyptian Revolution.

Protests had begun in Tahrir Square on January 25, 2011, as Egyptian citizens who wanted to overthrow their president, Hosni Mubarak, gathered to express their discontent. The protests quickly grew in size, and violence erupted.

While preparing a long dinner for expected guests, T. Wakil (‘19), now an ASD student, and her mother, Nairy Avedissian, had ordered food, decorated the house, and gotten dressed. In the midst of their dinner preparations, the breaking news had an alarming effect which blared throughout the house. It stated that technological and internet-related services in the entire country would be cut off.

More importantly, a strict curfew was established. This meant that Wakil and her family would be unable to leave the house after 5:00 pm. They wondered if the food would arrive. Would the guests make it? And most importantly, what would happen next?

Minutes after the new set curfew, Wakil heard gunshots and sirens just below the apartment building owned by Sony Ericsson, her father’s employer. At this point, she wasn’t sure what she was feeling. She says now, “The experience felt fun. I was 10 and didn’t know much about politics and government. It all felt like an action movie.”

All the men went outside the building, and they used their cars to block the roads to keep their families safe from intruders. Wakil and her mother assisted everyone in the building by placing chairs between the doors of the elevators to block them, so looters across the street would not have easy access to the homes inside the building. That night was the most memorable of all. Wakil’s entire family locked the doors to their home, spent the night together in one room, and prayed until dawn.

The next day, her family traveled to Turkey where they felt welcome and safe. Wakil says she loved Istanbul while strolling through the streets and couldn’t help herself from the Turkish Delights. But throughout the month, she wondered when she would get back to Egypt, and she was constantly checking the TV for good news in Egypt. Unfortunately, all she heard was devastating news about dramatic violence occurring within Egypt.

Wakil’s family safe and sound in Egypt after the revolution ended.

After the family spent three weeks in Turkey, President Mubarak resigned on February 11, and joyful protesters went wild. This meant that Wakil could finally go home and see her friends and relatives where they mattered most. Wakil could finally be reunited in her home, and finally, she could go to school. But even though she was back, not everyone that left returned. The number of students in her school had decreased, and some classes no longer had teachers. The situation made Wakil feel uncertain  and worried about being in Egypt, as she missed seeing international students at her school. Luckily, after three months, people started returning to school and things slowly returned nearly to the way they had been before.

Now when she looks back at the event she feels, “it was a crucial learning experience.” Wakil says that the experience has shaped the way she thinks about politics.