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A Former Student’s Against-the-Odds Egypt Travel

ShiSha... in Cairo, Egypt!

Former student ShiSha… in Cairo, Egypt!

It was late at night last month, and I was power-walking through the tunnel between the Red Line and the Orange Line in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. Suddenly a radiant grin appeared in front of me.

“Ms. Marshall!” my former student, ShiSha, hollered, and we fell into an embrace.

“How have you been?” I asked, breathless from the coincidence.

“I’m still working at Artists for Humanity,” ShiSha replied, referring to an amazing urban youth art program, “and in a few weeks I’m leaving for… Egypt!”

“What?!” I exclaimed.

It was late and I had to catch the last train of the night, but ShiSha promised to give me the whole scoop via Facebook.

Now, January 24, ShiSha has been in Egypt for nearly a month, and is having a fantastic time. And as promised, today ShiSha emailed me the entire story of how she ended up in Cairo, so I could edit and publish it on my Teaching Traveling site. I literally had chills of inspiration after reading it. It’s great, and it’s also astounding. Click here for the whole tale of how ShiSha went from failing high school classes to making her dreams a reality in Egypt, despite financial hardship, and despite being the first person in her family to ever have a passport.

ShiSha's photo of a door in Cairo, Egypt.

Cairo, by ShiSha. Door to opportunity?

I know the article is long, but really, read it. Why? Because here’s the gist: if YOU are stuck thinking you don’t have the money, connections, resources, or power to follow your dreams, ShiSha’s story will slap you awake. She surmounted great odds to be where she is now (including the fear most Americans have of the Middle East!), and she proves that you don’t need to be born with a million dollars to travel.

I will end by quoting ShiSha’s current Facebook status update, because it sums up so much:

ShiSha: I was sitting outside on the patio today in Cairo and a car backfired. It sounded like a gunshot so everyone took cover. When they realized what had happened they laughed it off, but Asher noticed that I didn’t duck and asked why. I said, “I am from Dorchester. I know what a gunshot sounds like.” So for the rest of the day, my name has been مجرمة which is Arabic for… “Gangster.” :)

Oh, ShiSha. We’re proud of you for the perseverance and strength you showed in finding a way to study in Egypt. Now use that fortitude to finish your college degree, and keep on showing this world that impossible doesn’t exist!


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Tuesday 8th of March 2011

Wow! This is truly amazing. I mean what are the odds of going to Egypt and being in the middle of a huge protest?

shirley leung

Monday 7th of March 2011

wow I wish that happened to me!! I really want to go some where before I go to college. Not like me paying for the ticket kind of thing just for vacation but something that was given to me because of school work.


Tuesday 1st of March 2011

Shes reminds me alot of my grandmother. She never lets anything get in her way and makes sure she fights till the end. Great job ShiSha.


Tuesday 8th of February 2011

That's such an inspiring story. ShiSha sounds amazing.


Thursday 27th of January 2011

I thought what ShiSha has accomplished is great! She was able to make her dreams come true after failing high school. Your hard work must have paid off! Going to Cairo, Egypt must be very fun too!

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