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The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Jan 25, 2014

JenniferFischerReading the news of the recent explosions in Cairo launched me back in time. Almost exactly 14 years ago, I flew into New York to complete my schooling after having spent six months living and studying in Cairo, Egypt – an Egypt so different from the Egypt that exists now. Despite its current turmoil, I know the people are the same: warm, loving, kind, generous.

It would be an understatement to say my experience in Egypt changed my life. Not only did I meet the man who would become my business and life partner as well as the father of my children – a Bostonian also studying abroad in Cairo – but I also made some valuable, lifelong friendships.

Of equal importance was the deeper understanding I gained of others through my time in the Middle East, particularly how that experience helped me to shed my misconceptions of those who are different from me. I try to carry that lesson with me today in all I do.

Anytime I meet or read of someone who seems quite different from me, I remind myself that often when an effort is made to get past those differences and really get to know a person at their core, I have almost always discovered that this person who seemed so different is not really different at all.

Almost universally, they also love their family and friends. They also want a better life for themselves and their children. They also value freedom and education.

As I’ve watched the uprising in Egypt from afar, and thought of young students I met while there – whose lives are now in turmoil – families whose children are growing up with instability – I am hoping that as Egypt continues its progress toward becoming a truly democratic nation, it will do so swiftly and as peacefully as possible.

I look back at our own nation’s path to becoming a democratic, independent republic and the turmoil, instability and violence that process included.

I am reminded to value the freedom I have, and not to take it for granted. And I am reminded of the importance of being an active participant in democracy; that it is important to stand up for those who can get lost, oppressed and potentially excluded from the democratic process.

Even here in Santa Clarita, voter turnout for most elections is quite low. Meanwhile, around the world, individuals are losing their lives in an effort to secure their right to vote, their right to be counted and engaged in shaping their nation and controlling their own lives.

My husband and I have always hoped one day to take our children to Cairo and Alexandria so they can see where their parents met, and so they can meet many of the wonderful, generous and kind individuals whom we met while living there. I am hoping that when we do, Egypt will be a flourishing, stable democracy.

 

Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

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