Regional English Language Officer Micah Risher, AMIDEAST teacher Dr. Maged Rushdy, and the Cairo class of Access - Hanan Fayed/Egypt Today
CAIRO – 15 February 2021: Access Program of the U.S. embassy in Cairo was launched Monday, taking 160 young Egyptian students in a two-year journey of learning English and other skills essential for their character building.
The students, 14-16 years old from largely underprivileged areas, have already spent six months in the program, and they came to the launch from Minya, Sohag, Luxor, Hurghada, Alexandria, and Cairo.
The class from Cairo included 20 visually impaired students, and their facilitator was Dr. Maged Rushdy, a visually impaired AMIDEAST teacher.
Rushdy told Egypt Today that he appreciates the students were given opportunities to which he did not have access, and that he hopes “they are not shunned by the society or treated like a group that must be on its own. I hope that when they work, study in a university, or go anywhere they are treated as normal citizens with the same skills, capabilities, and rights.
“Access makes them bolder in terms of interaction and makes the know that there is no difference between them and others. After Access, they are not afraid,” Rushdy said.
The U.S. embassy partners with AMIDEAST and the American University in Cairo to hold Access. The program has some 5,000 Egyptian alumni who went on to hold successful academic and professional lives. The program teaches English, but also presentation and computer skills, and tackles community service and leadership.
Alshaimaa Sayed, a student from Hurghada who is originally from Qena, Upper Egypt, told Egypt Today how the program, only six months in so far, has changed her attitude outside of Access.
“I am no longer afraid of a test, whether in Access of outside. I also get involved in any initiative or project I come across in the community to enrich my experience,” she said.
Regional English Language Officer Micah Risher said the program “does change lives of young people, and it does it through building bridges with communities that creates opportunities for further study in Egypt and in the U.S. through scholarship programs.”
“It brings a whole new world to the kids in Egypt by giving them access to information and each other and ideas and it connects them more deeply, even here in Egypt, with learning about not just ancient history like the pyramids, but also about what's going on, what drives the economy, what are job prospects that they might have,” Risher told journalists at the launch.
Several students delivered short presentation at the launch in English, showing newly learned skills of language and “body language, eye contact,” as one of the students said in her presentation, in a vastly different learning experience than that in traditional Egyptian schools.