Shereen Sayed

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Affiliated Organizations

What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?

In Egypt, there are huge gaps among socioeconomic classes and between urban and rural settings. The gaps include the lack of basic human rights, such as education, health care, clean water, sewage systems, electricity, etc. I work in a rural area on the outskirts of Cairo, where access to schools is very difficult, therefore the NGO I work with has built 2 community schools in 2 villages where kids have to walk 7-8 kilometers every day to go to school. When I joined the NGO, I started focusing on the quality of education we offer, because I believe access is not enough, and I also believe that "the poorest among us desperately need the best quality education possible to be able to survive". In the span of 1.5 years, we now have raised the capacity of the teachers significantly, so they become more facilitators than teachers. Kids are discussing, asking questions and working in groups in our classes. Also, we offer several activities, such as arts, crafts, physical education, library and reading and integrated learning classes.

What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?

The most striking moments are when I see both teachers and students asking about their rights and not thinking they are less because they have less opportunities; when a talented student in drawing gets appreciated by all his teachers, not just the art teacher; when a teacher starts to apply differentiation in her class without getting trained on it, purely because of her efforts and her response to the students' needs; and when a student is able to present his/her work with clarity and precision. What helps me to continue is seeing the children and knowing in my heart that the school is their only chance.

How and why did you start working in peace education?

My passion was in education since I was in college; however, it took me a while to pursue that dream due to some complications in my life. In 2011, I joined the MA program in International and Comparative Education at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and shifted my career since then. I was privileged to be introduced to the civil society in Egypt during the writing process of my thesis and I found myself working with underprivileged and disadvantaged communities. It exhilarates and satisfies me on a deep level when I feel that I am helping someone who doesn't have any chance or very limited opportunities in life. Unfortunately, there are many in my context, and not all of them are children. I see potential when I see there are many people who share my passion, and not just in Egypt. This truly inspires hope within me.