Latrobe’s Connection to Egypt

Latrobes Connection to Egypt

Danielle Lesnock is a 2003 Greater Latrobe graduate. She currently teaches in Egypt and has firsthand experience of the Egyptian revolution.

High Post: Why did you decide to move to Egypt? 

Danielle Lesnock: I teach for international schools so I have traveled and lived abroad as a part of my job. Egypt has always peeked my interest for the simple fact of the history and monuments like the pyramids. Being from Latrobe, Egypt seemed so far away and exotic and it was a dream to go there. I took some Islamic and Egyptians studies classes in college which also made me more interested in the way of life here and culture.
HP: Where in Egypt do you live? 

I live in a suburb of the city about 20 minutes away from downtown Cairo called Maadi. It is a quiet neighborhood (quiet for Cairo’s standards) which is filled with many expatriates (refugees). 

HP: What were your emotions during the riots? 

DL: I was supporting the Egyptian people for sticking up for themselves and reclaiming their country. I felt empowered to see all of them become defiant and strong. I felt a mixture of pride for the country and as many; I was also a little scared. It was an eye opener as the things I saw, I never thought I would see or be a part of. There were some episodes that occurred that made me a little nervous.
HP: Did you consider moving back to the U.S.?

DL: Actually I never thought about it until the news reported that Americans (as well as other foreigners) are urged to leave. It was at that point that I started to realize that this is serious in the sense that my safety as well as Egypt’s stability is threatened. However with that said, I still decided to remain in Egypt. I wanted to be here to experience the country’s revolution; things like this don’t happen every day. I have many Egyptians friends that are like family to me so I felt more connected to life here and wanted to stay to see it change.

HP: Was school in session during the revolution? 

DL: No actually we have not had school now for a month. We have posted lessons online and voice recorded our lectures. The 12th graders have been in school now for about a week, but March 6th is the first day back for the whole school. (The week in Islamic culture begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday)
 HP: What were your students’ reactions towards the violence?

I did see some of my students throughout the revolution and like many Egyptians they were conflicted with many emotions: they were extremely proud that people were demanding change and were not afraid any more of Mubarak, upset that violence/destruction developed, embarrassed that the world was receiving many reports of this violence, and also scared about the future. But all in all I can tell you that Egyptians are not violent people and do/did not support this violence. 

HP: Since Mubarak stepped down, how have people reacted?

DL: Egypt has completely changed. It has been worth staying here to see this transition. Egyptians now feel that they own their country and that it is theirs, not some corrupted rich leader’s home. They are taking pride in their neighborhoods now by cleaning the streets every day, painting walls, and trying to make their buildings look nicer. I noticed that since I first came to Cairo Egyptians are the friendliest people you will ever meet, and they became even friendlier and more positive after Mubarak left. Egypt really did wake up to a new country on February 12th.
HP: What is your family’s reaction to you being in Egypt during this time? 

DL: Well needless to say they were very worried especially because the news, often by nature, gives a very sensationalized version of what is really happening. I think it is easy to be afraid of something when you are not actually there. But, they supported me staying and are still planning their visit in March. They want to see a country that has changed by the power of its people.