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Interns 2017

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Mona El Nadouri (France) Master’s Degree in International Relations, June  2017 - August 2017

First of all, I would like to sincerely thank Kees Cornelis Hulsman, Drs. the director and editor-in-chief of the Center of Arab-West Understanding (CAWU); without him this internship would not have happened. I would also like to extend my most sincere thanks to my mentor, Matthew Sparks, who I honor and whom I hold in the highest esteem, and who wanted to make me his responsibility for two months, and for that I really had a lot of luck. Mr Matthew Sparks  and Mr Adel Rizkallah  warmly welcomed me and were always willing to give me advice, attention, support and kindness as well as making themselves available whenever I needed them. My thanks also go to all the staff at the center to whom I am so grateful.

As a French student who holds a Master's Degree in International Relations with emphasis on  the Middle East from  the National Institute of Foreign Languages and Civilizations in Paris, in May 2017, I applied for a professional internship at the Center for Arab-West Understanding of Cairo. Egypt. Two days after sending my application to the center, Cornelis ‘Kees’ Huslman, Drs sent me a reply accepting my internship request. I felt immense pleasure and happiness that my new experience in Egypt was about to begin. If part of my satisfaction was undoubtedly due to the fact that I was going to do an internship in my  field of research, it was also because my internship would take place in Egypt, a country of which I am very fond due to the Egyptian origin of my parents.

My most important personal goal was to improve my English language skills and acquire a particularly useful vocabulary in the discipline of my research which, first and foremost, requires excellent editorial skills. Also, I must mention my long-term interest in working in research; a this has always been passion of mine!   In specific, I have a great interest in understanding and analyzing major issues concerning my region of specialization the Middle East. I was able to deal with some very interesting questions from  sociological, cultural and political points of view. To combine these different fields of studies was, for me, an extremely enriching experience and in addition, provided me with an intellectual springboard to continue my research. Indeed, the very rich and unique database that the research center possesses, the Arab-West Report Database, has fed my critical thinking in the analysis of socio-cultural relations between individuals on an individual scale, as well as on an inter-state and transnational scale. One of the questions that was of the greatest interest to me was the relationship between Christians and Muslims in Egypt. I was delighted to see that there are indeed major social developments in Muslim-Christian relations despite what the media often conveys to us. Indeed, there is a very ambitious will to promote dialogue, peace and tolerance between all citizens and human beings, regardless of their confession or opinions. The inner point of view of the people I have listened to via the recorded interviews on the database  was quite impressive and positive. I understood that beyond all conflicts and hatred, a happier future will be established by dialogue and attempting to understand others. This was in fact the main reason that motivated my desire to continue in the field of research; in order to continue the analysis of the societies of today and tomorrow and to protect the future by science.

I am extremely proud to say that my goals to increase my understanding and my critical analysis skills, as well as the ability to express myself better have been far exceeded. The passion and expertise of the people with whom I had the privilege of working for two months enabled me to broaden my horizons and skills well beyond my expectations. Living for two months in Cairo, a city I had never visited before, was a very rewarding experience for me both professionally and emotionally. I fell in love with the capital with its wonderful cultural heritage and its streets that give a glimpse of a very special atmosphere, but also what attracted my attention were the Egyptian people. A beautiful people living with patience and generosity despite the economic and political difficulties they frequently face which can constitute a brake on their social lives. However, I especially remember the elderly woman I met in the subway during the youth break. Although this woman seemed to be very modest, she gave us dates with the biggest smile that I will never forget. I also remember the Syrian family who had taken refuge in Cairo who told me how their Christian neighbors were generous to them during the month of Ramadan.

Finally, I will conclude by saying that it is good to remember that everyone has different perspectives on life as a result of his experience, his history and his place in society. Cultivate empathy to never fall into judgment and intolerance. We are different but complement each other by our views, our strategies of dealing with struggles and life, our ways of doing things and our ways of seeing life. We are indispensable to everyone even though we sometimes think that differences are irreconcilable. No strategy is better than another as long as the dignity of human beings and nature is respected and preserved.

'Cairo, Egypt, the Middle East, the Arab world ... I will come back one day

Mona El Nadouri