Egyptian revolution impacts class at MRU
by Dr. Nancy-Angel Doetzel
Having opportunities in my classes to discuss the Egyptian revolution by framing this uprising within sociological theories and ideologies reminds me of why I am so passionate about being a sociology instructor.
Teaching sociology gives me opportunities to inspire youth to become critical thinkers, observe and construct social movements and make a difference in this world. I always hope that when students complete my classes that they will not face anomie or disheartenment; but, alternatively, they will embrace a strong sense of purpose and a desire to work towards leaving this world in better condition than they had found it.
I teach the principals of being a good sociologist, such as compassion and passion, supporting and appreciating human diversity, being humble and standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
Several years ago, I was a guest instructor at the American University in Cairo and I returned to Egypt last year. In Cairo and Alexandria, I felt grateful for the chance to observe Muslims responding to calls to prayer, visit a mosque, and tour the pyramids and Cairo museum. Although I truly appreciated the Egyptians’ great hospitality, I also felt sadness after seeing so much poverty and oppression, and being informed about there being such a high percentage of unemployed, well-educated youth in that country.
The day the Egyptian revolution commenced, I felt compassion while viewing the television coverage and I pondered ways I could encourage my students to act as good sociologists, while examining this crisis.
This January, thousands of unemployed, well-educated Egyptian youth used social media to organize a revolutionary social movement. Then, they assembled in the streets to protest their living conditions and demand changes be made within the government constitution and parliament. In what they called a “peaceful” revolution, they requested an end to dictatorship and asked for employment opportunities. Within days, media reported millions more protestors had joined the youth.
For a few weeks, this political crisis inspired my sociology students to engage in class discussions. They found some historical norms and values of Egyptians were being challenged, mainly by the youth who had relied upon social media to orchestrate the social movement. My students noted the wide use of Facebook in Egypt, in particular. Students observed the Egyptians staying united, despite the government’s attempt to disrupt social media.
Youth within my classes had expressed their amazement at how Egyptian Muslims and Christians had united in protective measures; citizens from both religious groups had held hands to establish a human chain that enabled them to engage freely in their prayers.
Students spoke admirably about the Egyptian youth who took on security measures to protect their families and the Cairo museum when police officers were not available.
When the Egyptian president officially resigned, I was in Calgary speaking with a friend in Alexandria who showed me army tanks outside his home using MSN Messenger. My friend was observing the flashing lights of cell phones and candles being waved by joyful citizens assembled in the streets, celebrating an amazing victory.
Dr. Doetzel received her Ph.D from the U of C and her B.A, HBA and MA in Sociology from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.