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A Boston Student Sees Egypt Protests First-Hand

Amazing news for all of you who have been wondering about the fate of ShiSha, who wrote the amazing article about going from failing high school to study abroad in Egypt. Not only is ShiSha safely back in Boston, but she has also given us the gift of this article! Read and learn.

Take it away, ShiSha!

Wonderful, thoughtful, brave traveler ShiSha!
Wonderful, thoughtful, courageous traveler ShiSha!

Hello again to all of you. I decided to focus this article on the things that occurred during my last week in Cairo. I was thinking to myself, how could I describe what happened?

Then it came to me: what better way to do so than to write the words I had written in my journal right after seeing the events that took place in Egypt? During every trip that I go on, I take a journal with me.

I chose to explain my experience in Egypt during the protests this way because, since I have gotten back to Boston, many people have been taking about what is going on as if it is a joke. So what better way for me to explain it than to put you in my shoes? Hopefully you can learn the lessons I have.

One: Things are never as passive as you perceive them to be at first glance!

Two: We take too many things for granted!

Three: It is one thing to stand up for yourself, but it is another thing to stand up for a stranger you later will call your brother!

And here I will begin typing in my journal entries.

January 25, 2011: Dahab Hostel, 10:38am Egypt Time/3:38am Boston Time- Outside Room 23 on the Patio.

I am going to see some galleries today. The first stop is “Darb 17 18” and I hope it will be interesting. I met two very nice people that are going to see them with me, and their names are Zack and Sydney. Sydney is coincidentally from Boston. She has been traveling for the last three months and I don’t really know much about her yet, but she reminds me so much of my sister, Keosha. Zack is a case all by himself.

He has been traveling since he was 18 years old. The man is 37 now, which is amazing to me. I can only wish to do something like that: just drop everything back home and go wherever I want to go until I run out of money. These two people have become two of my many personal heroes in Cairo! I hope I can learn as much as I can from them before I go home on Sunday.

Protesters gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Protesters gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.

There is this guy, John, telling everyone not to go to the protesting in the square today because he thinks it would be a bad place for non-Egyptians. He is a freelance photographer also from America… not Boston, but New York.

The protesting is going on across the river so I think we will be fine, but part of me really wants to go and see it. From what I am told, today is Police Appreciation Day, and the people are having a protest against police brutality. That’s one way to get their attention. I have never been to a protest outside of Boston and I really want to go. It’s like the more John tells me not to go, the more I want to go. Well I’m off to the gallery!

January 26, 2011: Dahab Hostel, 10:14am/3:14am – Outside Room 22 on the Patio.

How the hell do I put yesterday into words? Things got way out of hand. My feet are killing me. I can barely walk. The police had tear gas, and full body armor with night sticks. (Some of them even had regular sticks.) Also, they had a truck with a water hose on it. It reminded me of an image that I saw from the Civil Rights Movement of the protesters being hit with the water hose from the fire truck.

Riot police with sticks and fire hoses run by to stop protesters.
Riot police with sticks and fire hoses run to go stop protesters.

We never made it to Darb. We walked down the street to Sadat Station, and there were protesters and riot police everywhere. As soon as we got there, I couldn’t help myself: I started video recording. Police were blocking the people form getting into Tahrir Square, so protesters turned around and headed up Tal’at Harb Street into Tal’at Harb Square.

As soon as they were gone, an even bigger crowd came from across Tahrir Square. The police set up a barricade so they couldn’t join up with the other protesters in Tal’at Harb Square.

After reading the signs protesters held up and listening to the people, I found out that it wasn’t about just police brutality. They wanted reform. They were tired of their President/Dictator of 30 years.

We followed the protesters down Al Osar Al Aini Street until the police started shooting tear gas and spraying people with water. We walked until we reached the Nile River. After about three hours of wandering around we decided to head back to the Dahab. It sounds like an easy task, but during the protesting, it was the most challenging thing to do that night.

There were police barricades all around the downtown area, to make a long story of walking around and being turned around from barricade to barricade short. We were told that the barricades were going to be moved at 11pm. As we were walking, we found this awesome market on Mohamed Farid Street. The food was so good! I want go back there.

The delicious dinner they found when stopped by barricades.
The delicious dinner they found when stopped by barricades.

We didn’t get back until one in the morning.

When we got upstairs, everyone was in the reception area. John and Ahmad were sadly beaten by some officers. Ahmad even had some person’s blood on him. They had seen the worst of it. Almost a half an hour later, the protesters were back at it. There was a thick smell of tear gas in the air, and I could hardly breathe. It was like a combination of burning plastic and lime. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I didn’t get to sleep until 4am.

Today is very silent and I haven’t heard anything this morning. I think that it may be over and the people have given up.

January 27, 2011: Dahab Hostel, 10:58am/3:58am – Inside Room 27.

I’m not as sore as I was yesterday, so I may be up for some walking today. People are back in the square. The protesting has basically taken over Tahrir Square, Tal’at Harb Square, Falaki Square, Abdel Men’em Ryad Square, and every street in between them, including Mahmoud Bassiony Street where I live. So far I haven’t seen anything on the news about what is going on here.

January 27, 2011: Dahab Hostel, 12:43am/5:43pm – Inside Room 27.

All the phones and Internet services are off, landlines also. Things are not looking very good. I can’t get in contact with Omi (my mother). I wouldn’t be surprised if she has called the police already. I make sure that I talk to her somehow every night. I know she is going out of her mind by now. I am going to make it an early night. I don’t feel very well.”

(It turned out that I had very bad heartburn. I stayed in bed all day. It hurt to move. But the more water I drank made it better.)

January 29, 2011: Dahab Hostel, 1:34pm/6:34am – Outside Room 22 on the Patio.

The protesting is getting worse. A building has been set on fire. It has been burning since last night. There was so much tear gas in the air, to the point everyone was pissed off at the police. Come on… all that wasn’t necessary! We could smell it in our rooms. They just would not let up. “Boom! Boom!” all day and most of the night. This morning everyone’s eyes were red and irritated.

Some had dark circles under them. “The Days of Unrest” is a good name for this time because I know no one in the city had a good night’s rest since it all began on Tuesday. The phones are back on, but the Internet is still off. I called Omi and she was still up at five in the morning. She had been watching the news and saw what was going on over here. I knew she would be going nuts. But she didn’t call the police!

A building set on fire during Cairo, Egypt protests.
A building set on fire during Cairo, Egypt protests.

They have made some progress: the president has fired all government officials and the army has taken over the protesting. I haven’t seen a police vehicle or uniform today. It seems those people are just wrong for what they have been doing to the protesters. They are just robots with no common sense in humanity.

It seems they take orders without a thought about what they are doing. From what I have seen, the protesters want a new government altogether, and hopefully they can get a form of democracy so the people can have a say in what goes on in their country.

Some people have broken into the jails and let some criminals out. S**t is really about to hit the fan.

I am going to see if any shops are open. I haven’t eaten a real meal in two days. Everything has been closed. To make everything worse, the city has been put on a 4pm curfew. They don’t want anyone outside after dark.

The Hostel chained and locked the door downstairs no one could get in or out. I don’t know how, but Zack, Sydney, John, and Ahmed got back in safe. Well, John got beat up again, but that is kind of becoming a sadly normal thing for him.

Some of the people in the hostel made a big dinner for everyone. I think they should do things like this more often. Many people stay in hostels because of all the people you meet, and of course, the low cost. And everyone knows if you want to experience a city as a tourist, go to a hotel, but if you want to see a place, I mean really see a place, stay in a hostel.

We are all in for the night and I am leaving in the morning. I have heard rumors from people saying that there have been some problems with people leaving from the airport. I hope it will be fine.

January 30, 2011: Cairo International Airport, 2:30pm/7:30am – Terminal 3 Gate G7.

ShiSha, back in Boston but still in contact with Egypt!
ShiSha, back in Boston but still in contact with Egypt!

I am sitting watching the news, but I cannot anymore. It is full of bull that has nothing to do with protesting in Cairo. The people do not care about the U.S. or Israel. They couldn’t care less! I seriously call bull on CNN.

They are showing the same footage of the first day over and over again. I hope John and Ahmad write a book after this is over, so everyone can see the real truth. You hear things in movies about how the “government” is covering up facts or about how it is a conspiracy. It is totally different when you know the truth, and the news says something different.

I saw on the news that there will be emergency evacuations for all Americans tomorrow. All I can think about is all the people at the hostel that were not American. Before Sydney and John came, I was the only American there. Most of the people I have met have been from Germany. What will happen to them?

My plane has been delayed for the last three hours. There are ten planes in line for takeoff and we are first in line, or so I am told. I am not really mad about it; the more time I spend in Cairo, the less time I have to spend in the airport in Munich, waiting for my connecting flight. It is very cold in Germany right now! Home is so close, but so far away.

What makes this protest so great to me is that it is middle class people and upper class people, fighting for the lower class. Peasants don’t have Internet at home. They couldn’t have organized this on Facebook. These are the educated men and women of Egypt fighting for their God-given rights. I have never seen anything like this in my life.

I have seen protesters in Boston Common, but people just walk by and continue with their days, not even thinking to stop and see what is going on. I wish we had an ounce of the courage that I have seen this past week. In Shaa Allaah!

Back in Boston, Update from friends in Egypts Protest Movement, February 9, 2011:

  • Protesters have been dying from infected wounds.
  • The Government has increased salaries by 15%.
  • According to Ahmad, “Our lovely protesters have camped in front of Parliament and have put up signs saying: “Closed until the Regime falls”
  • 4,000 families are running out of food and money in Egypt.
  • Donations are needed for an orphanage that has been burned down in downtown.
  • To see some of John’s photos, including pictures of what occurred in Egypt, go to:

Update, February, 11, 2011:

Today on February 11, 2011 Mubarak has resigned. The people have won!ShiSha, thank you SO much for sharing this with us! Readers, if you want to help the people of Egypt, contact ShiSha through through the comments section or through her blog, From East to Middle East, and she will put you in touch with her friends still in Cairo. So, readers, what questions and comments do you have for ShiSha?


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Genesis Lumahan

Tuesday 3rd of May 2011

I don't get how something like this could be taken as a joke. Th picture of the building is devastating. It must've taken so much courage to get through all this. If I were you, I would've been very scared!


Tuesday 29th of March 2011

Thank you for sharing your experience and reflections! This firsthand narrative really sheds light on a situation that mainstream U.S. news sources haven't explained with your clarity.


Friday 25th of March 2011

Hi Shisha-

I'm wondering if you ever finished those credit recovery classes you mentioned in your earlier article-- either at Charlestown High or elsewhere. Would you email me at [email protected] to let me know? I'd love to help you out if you haven't yet finished those courses... get in touch!

Ms. Koehler

ShiSha King

Friday 25th of March 2011

John has put up his article on the days of unrest. ( About time!)

Adele McKeon

Tuesday 15th of March 2011

Wow, ShiSha. Glad you are home safe and sound. Your words and images blew me away! What an amazing experience for you, I think you should consider writing more about your trip...why not a book from you too? -Ms. McKeon (Your always loving former PIC Career Specialist)

ShiSha King

Friday 25th of March 2011

I don't know about a book but if it wasn't for you bringing Artists for Humanity to my attention I wouldn't be doing the things that I am doing today. THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!

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