Let me begin with a brief introduction and summary of the past 3 months.
I sometimes go by Aaysof.
I identify as an Egyptian-American born and raised in Houston, Texas.
My mother moved from Cairo to the States with her family when she was 18 and in her 20s married a first generation Hungarian man; however, he is very detached from his roots.
Growing up, assimilation was a general theme.
In 2005, I received a BS in psychology and a BFA in photography/digital media. Currently, in Cairo im teaching English and, inshallah, will begin a masters program in gender and women studies with a North African concentration.
On may 1st I moved to Cairo, Egypt. Texas and Egypt was created to track my journey as truthfully as possible.
The following is an excerpt of a letter/vent written to my father about why I didn’t learn Arabic growing up. It was never sent due to it’s unfair harsh quality.
Growing up, I remember your negative comments when Arabic was spoken in your presence. I remember remarks that indicated how rude you felt it was for mom and her parents to speak their mother tongue with you around.
How is it that you would marry an Egyptian woman then do nothing to embrace her culture?
I can imagine you felt quite left out- and believe me I understand how it feels to be left out of a conversation due to a language barrier- I experience it on the daily here, and I experienced it growing up.
Since you never seemed to embrace Arabic, I can only naturally assume you didn’t want me to pick it up as I was growing up.
Is this the case? Is that how you felt? And now that I am 25 and deliberately trying to learn Arabic in order to speak it with mom, grandpa, and grandma, does it piss you off?
You had 30 years to learn even the most basic words, but you didn’t even learn how to say “aywa” and “la (”“yes” and “no”). That pisses me off.
“Speak English! You’re in America” you used to say.
You didn’t want me to learn it cause you didn’t.
And now, do you understand how important Arabic is for me?
And how frustrating it is to hear the question “Why don’t you know Arabic?”
It is part of who I am- where I come from. It’s about relating to my mother and grandparents in their language- knowing them in a way I’ve never known them before.
i will leave you with a meal eaten in khan il khalili. This dish is called fateer. it can be eaten plain, with meat, veggies, or sweet ingredients on the inside. for tourists, egyptians market this meal as an “egyptian pancake”, although it’s nothing like a pancake.
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