Menna Farouk, Reham Gamal, Ibrahim Hammouda, Michael Matthiesen,
Jessica Mulligan, and Kristina Ryan
In an era of fake news and disinformation, the levels of misconceptions about other cultures are only increasing. In addition, the world’s post-9/11 emphasis on counterterrorism has resulted in a lack of sympathy and understanding for different cultures. Dialogue and cross-cultural communication are vital in order to fight inter-cultural bigotry and hate.
This project aims to counter misconceptions that Americans and Egyptians have about one another’s culture through short video interviews and social media. We will seek to build bridges and foster cultural awareness among youth ages 18-35 in Egypt and the United States by developing seven short videos (approximately three minutes each) that feature Egyptians and Americans speaking about their experience learning about the other’s culture. The interviewees will include former Gabr Fellows, youth (university students, entrepreneurs, rising government leaders, etc.) and influential leaders (celebrities, cultural icons, writers, government representatives, etc.). Each video will feature interviewees discussing their perception of one of the following topics before and after experiencing the other culture:
- Women’s rights
- Arts and literature
- Personal safety
- News media
- Dating and relationships
- Alcohol and drugs
The videos will also include interviewees discussing how Egyptians and Americans can work together to improve intercultural understanding of the other culture. To increase the reach and scope of the project, the videos will use hash tags, and funds raised will be used to boost and advertise videos online to the target audience. Each individual video will also be combined to tell a story in the form of a short film (approximately 20 minutes) that will be used at two workshops, one in Washington D.C. and one in Egypt. The workshops will allow the target audience to interact with the Gabr Fellows, peers, and influential leaders to expand on questions and issues raised in the videos.
The project’s goals are threefold:
- Increase understanding: We seek to increase the target audience’s understanding of the other culture so they foster more informed discussions in the future and rethink their perceptions of people from other cultures as “the other.”
- Increase dialogue: Through personalized videos posted on social media, we hope to start a dialogue in a forum where Egyptians and Americans can engage with one another.
- Jumpstart a conversation: Ideally, viewers and participants will share what they learned with coworkers, family, and friends, thus expanding the “reach” of this project.
The target audience is youth aged 18-35 in Egypt and the United States—the next generation of global leaders who are vulnerable to hatred of other cultures in our post-9/11 world rife with fear and misinformation. In addition, the project will also target youth in areas of each respective country where the levels of misunderstanding are likely highest (e.g. Upper Egypt; Middle America). The interview subjects will be selected to target these audiences—the voices from peers will foster a sense of trust and mutual understanding, while the influential leaders will provide a sense of credibility to the messages.
Phase 1 (3 months): Conduct interviews and gather raw footage
Phase 2 (3 months): Edit raw footage and produce videos
Phase 3 (3 months): Develop social media pages and launch campaign—videos will be released approximately one week apart
Phase 4 (3 months): Plan and execute in-person workshops
The immediate outcome of the project will be increased understanding of everyday life in each respective country and increased dialogue between communities. The long-term outcome of this project will be positive attitudinal and behavioral shifts among our next generation of world leaders.
Furthering the Foundation’s Mission
The Shafik Gabr Foundation aims to increase communication and dialogue between Egyptians and Americans, and this initiative will use social media to make cultural exchange more accessible for all.