US Offers Egyptian Students English Skills and Career Opportunities

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Some of Egypt’s most talented students are building their future – and that of their country – through the experience gained through a US scholarship program.

Eman Abdelmohsen Said, 20, is one of these young leaders. She grew up in Kom, a rural community near Aswan on the Nile. Initially, she thought she would stay in her hometown and maybe become a doctor. After completing the English Access Microscholarship program, she discovered her passion: teaching. The program also gave her the confidence and desire to travel beyond her hometown, especially to the United States.

Thanks to the US-funded scholarship, Said learned English and acquired computer skills. Said said the program also opened his eyes to a new world. She learned universal skills such as communicating with others and appreciating other cultures. Growing up, she rarely communicated with her male peers. Today, she is more comfortable talking with both men and women.

Eman Abdelmohsen Said runs an English club for other youngsters in Egypt in 2018. (Courtesy of Nada Mohamed)

“It gave us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone,” Said told ShareAmerica. “I learned that we don’t live alone on the planet.”

Access, a US State Department program, provides students around the world with English language instruction, communication skills, and leadership training. In Egypt, students between the ages of 14 and 16 can apply. Participants receive at least 360 hours of English lessons over two years and attend team events that emphasize interaction with others. The program was launched in 2004 under the leadership of the late Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Since 2008, more than 6,000 Egyptian students have completed the Access program. Globally, more than 200,000 students from 90 countries have participated since the program began.

After Access, Said participated in the Global Youth Village leadership program, which brought her to Washington. Said became the first woman from her hometown to visit the United States. She is studying to become an English teacher at the University of Aswan.

“A journey of self-discovery”

Mohamed Gamal Eldin, 24, participated in the Access program from 2013 to 2015. He spent 12 hours a week studying English. Eldin grew up in Giza, an Egyptian city on the west bank of the Nile, home to the Great Pyramids.

During the fellowship program, he went camping, attended the opera, and watched movies with program colleagues. His group also met with representatives of the American Embassy in Cairo.

Beyond teaching the language, Eldin said Access taught him to speak and act with confidence.

“It’s not just English,” he told ShareAmerica. “It’s a journey of self-discovery. You take all the information, skills and many experiences you acquire and apply them to your life.

Left: Mohamed Gamal Eldin in Washington in 2017. Right: Eldin as a youth representative and speaker at the Al-Azhar International Conference on the Renewal of Islamic Thought in January 2020 (Photos: Courtesy of Mohamed Gamal Eldin )

After completing Access, Eldin participated in the Global Youth Forum in 2018, with support from the US Embassy. He visited the United States and, for a month in the Washington area, he attended training sessions in leadership and communication.

A graduate of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Eldin is a frequent public speaker. In 2020, the university chose him to speak about the renewal of the ideals of Islam and the fight against the terrorist threat before an audience of religious and political leaders. He also writes frequently for local newspapers and has appeared in television interviews on youth issues. In his spare time, he works on what he describes as a “philosophical” novel about finding meaning in life.

Currently, Eldin works in hotel guest relations. Eventually, he wants to run his own PR or marketing business. He also plans to serve as a community volunteer in Egypt and help women and children in need.

“Access has helped me open my mind and think,” he said. “When you think with an open mind, you find out what you want to do and you can think of ways to achieve your goals.”

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