For Eid Mohamed, the Arab Spring is not something that happened on the other side of the world. He believes it’s something that has touched every part of the world. A native of Egypt, Mohamed spent 18 days last spring glued to his computer during the revolution in Egypt. He joined Binghamton University’s faculty in fall 2011, to teach Arabic, and he already feels more at home here than he did when he lived in Washington, D.C. and near Toronto, Canada. “I’m enjoying a city without rush hours.
“I’m from the countryside in Egypt, so after many years in D.C. and Toronto, I’m fed up with such big towns and crowded streets,” he says. “I feel like Binghamton is like my small village in Egypt. People are smiling and helpful. It’s not polluted here with the habits of a big city. I felt a type of tranquility in my soul when I came to Binghamton and felt that this is what I’m looking for.” He also feels lucky to be surrounded by exceptional colleagues.
Mohamed is impressed by his students as well. “When I taught at George Washington, the students there have access to many resources around them – the Library of Congress, think tanks, foundations and much more – so to see that they are enthusiastic about what they are learning is natural,” he says. “Here, I find that despite the fact that we are in a smaller town, with Arabic language having less hours of teaching than in many programs across the States, students are very interested in acquiring the language. They are doing their best to master the language and to be able to compete after they graduate. The students are soaring beyond the expectations of their professors by doing very hard work.
“They keep asking questions about the possibility of fellowships in the Middle East or a job in the Department of State,” he adds. “They’re very ambitious and interested not only in learning the language but about the culture itself … language and culture are like two souls in one body. I really like the way students here are dedicating time and effort to the Arabic language. It’s not about ‘something I’m studying,’ it’s ‘I’m studying what I really like.’”
Mohamed will be using several guest speakers for his Arab Spring course, many through videoconferencing, who were directly involved in the revolutionary activities in Egypt. He expects they will relate their personal experiences about the Egyptian revolution, and then respond to questions. “It’s an interesting way to teach about the Arab Spring,” he says “The Arab Spring is still in process and I expect many books on the topic. Students in my class will be able to dig deep and wide in the process and produce new forms of political and cultural ‘sight.’”
Planning for the course includes serving as an invited guest speaker at an Egypt Conference in Washington D.C. to speak about the future of Egypt after the revolution, organizing a panel and presenting a paper at the Middle East Association annual meeting in Washington D.C., making a trip to Cairo in December to conduct research for the course and confirm guest speakers, traveling to a conference in Beirut in January to present a paper about Arab media, and serving as an invited speaker at a seminar by the Rutgers Research Center for Historical Analysis on the theme of “Current Democratic Waves in the Middle East and North Africa.”
“I believe this will be a good opportunity to promote the Binghamton University Arabic program and the Arab Spring course, which is the first of its type nationwide,” he says.
Mohamed started his research at George Washington University focusing on the way Arabs/Muslims are represented in the U.S., but his dissertation evolved into research about the way the U.S. is represented in Arab fiction, media and cinema. Currently, he is working on a book manuscript titled, From Obama to the Arab Spring: The U.S. and Middle East Cultural Encounters in the Season of Change. “My interdisciplinary work helped me to develop a zeal for crossing academic and intellectual borders,” Mohamed says. “To my mind, the teaching atmosphere also benefits immensely from connecting the teaching material to our everyday life and to our collective future.”
Research and teaching are parallels in Mohamed’s life, going hand-in-hand. He is interested in increasing the circumstances in which teaching and research have occasion to meet.
Last Updated: 11/8/11