We cannot expect to bring about change in our countries as long as our cries of rebellion come from a million miles away.

For the past three years, the corridors of my school have been lined with banners and posters of the most prestigious American colleges. Every other day, I hear cries of joy and congratulations to a student who just got accepted to some fancy foreign university. And there is not a week that goes by in which I do not hear the words “if you pass up an opportunity to attend college abroad, you’ll be condemning yourself to a dark future.”

Looking at the education system in Egypt, I can understand why our school board is so persistent in urging students to pursue their college education abroad. I, myself, was once mesmerized by the illusion of travelling, completely convinced that I would be wasting my talents if I stay in my country. However, finding myself on the side of the majority, I decided it was time to pause and reflect.

How can we complain about the state of our country if we are all choosing to leave it behind?

If all Egyptian youth hold the belief that Egypt is not a country worth fighting for, how will society thrive and progress?

Out of the dozens of “study abroad” seminars, not one ever mentioned the importance of coming back to Egypt to drive out the ignorance and corruption that the country has suffered from for so long. Not one ever mentioned that the country is need of educated youth, now more than ever, in order to urge students use their knowledge to help their countries. And almost all of them portrayed happiness and success as having a prestigious degree from an expensive university.

But is that truly what defines happiness? Is that truly ultimate success? Why is the value of being surrounded by your family and native culture so dismissed and belittled? Does a pretty campus fill the void of not having love and compassion in your life? Does one’s purpose in life lie only in the materialistic things, such as a prestigious job and luxurious car, or are we here for something much greater such as fighting for a cause or dying for your country?

 

I am by no means condemning those who have chosen to study abroad. I am merely shedding a light on the duty we has towards our countries. A duty that has become so belittled and so dismissed. I am reminding myself and those around me that success and happiness are not measured by the rankings of our colleges. They are, however, measured by the fulfillment of our purpose in life and by the amount of people we help. We mustn’t turn blind, deaf, and mute to the suffering of our brothers and sisters back home merely because we cannot feel their struggles while being hundreds of miles away.

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