My time here in Egypt was definitely one to remember. My name is Jacob Habib and I’m majoring in Film and learning Arabic at Loyola. My father is originally from “sporting”, a suburb of Alexandria in Egypt. I got the opportunity to go with my family to explore my heritage and experience the country. My time in Egypt was filled with a lot of touring. We found out a lot about how things have been with politics, economics, history and the social environment.
One of the coolest things that I could have ever experienced was standing at the base of the great pyramid of Giza. It was a bit emotional because you go your whole life hearing about this giant structure that was built centuries ago and all the mysteries that surround it. And here you stand looking up at the point! You are able to reach out and physically touch the sand stone. This encounter was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire 3 week trip. It was also extremely fascinating to hear our tour guide explain to us all the theories on how they were constructed. I got the opportunity to go inside both the middle and the largest pyramid. This was also an amazing experience because you crawl through these small passages and then you reach the chamber where at one time the pharaoh once laid with all his riches.
The economic situations here in Egypt have been hugely affected by the uprising and now by Covid. Our tour ground in Cairo was part of the uprising in 2011. He told us the original idea was not to get the president to step down but to forcefully seek constitutional amendments to address legal matters and policing concerns. In the end the uprising caused the president to step down. I found it interesting that all three of our tour guides wished the uprising didn’t happen because it severely impacted their industry. The uprising and its aftermath caused tourism to decline severely and put thousands out of work. Commonly, at the peak of tourism there were 150,000 tour guides which declined to about a third of that number. Covid complicated matters more. When we went to the pyramids of Giza we were able to get pictures with no one around. This was the same as for all the temples we saw. It was honestly really sad to see that we would be the only people there.
We also got the opportunity to spend a day in Alexandra to explore where my dad grew up. We visited his school, church, the theater as well as walked the path that he and his brother walked back when they were younger. This opportunity to compare his lifestyle back then and what our generation currently is accustomed to in the USA was very interesting. This time was extremely eye opening to me; to observe my father’s personal experiences we used to hear about. I surely can see a completely different perspective.
Through all of the ups and down the country has had, the social environment is still one of the warmest and most inviting. Every single person we interacted with was so kind. When they saw our group, they started talking warmly with my dad and uncle! The things that we could do and were offered because they were Egyptian were wonderful. We took a cruise during our last week, and once they found out that we spoke Arabic, they generously shared with us specially cooked meals.
In the end of the trip I longed to go back, but this time, to assimilate and get immersed into the culture not to be just another tourist!