2018 Action Project – From DC to Cairo, Not Just A Tourist Attraction


Katie Applebaum, Hanan Khayal, and Lauren Ziegler

The Challenge

Before the Fellows departed, many of their family and friends questioned their intention to visit the other country. Safety and concerns about inclusivity were major topics of conversation. This led to the realization that neither the average Egyptian nor American citizen has an accurate image of what the other country is like. Instead of understanding realities on the ground, they get a biased portrayal from the media. This disconnect helps to ensure that misperceptions and assumptions remain the dominant narrative.

The Fellows’ videos and photos were a pleasant surprise for the same people who questioned their trip.  The project will capture photos around the cities and tell the story behind the photo. All photos will be captioned in both English and Arabic, so a following can be gained from both countries.

Project Overview

To counter the status quo, this project offers a view into the everyday life among average individuals living in Cairo and Washington DC. From DC to Cairo will be an Instagram account offering viewers a glimpse into the food, shopping, festivities, sights, and most importantly, the people of Cairo and Washington. It will capture photos around the two cities and tell the story behind that photo. The photos will be captioned in both English and Arabic, so a following can be gained from both countries and accessibility to a wider audience can be achieved.

The Goal

The goal of this Instagram account is to gain a following from both the United States and Egypt, and ultimately scale up to a global reach. The aim is to break the stereotypes and false perceptions people have when they imagine Cairo and Washington, and more broadly when they imagine individual Egyptians and Americans.

Population Served

The target population is Americans and Egyptians. Since it is an Instagram account, the target audience are millennials. The team will engage its networks on these accounts to generate a strong following base that will hopefully spread to friends’ contacts via word of mouth. As a next step, account holders who have expressed interest in travel, international affairs, and other related topics will be targeted. Through specially curated content, a wider audience can be reached and the conversation can be expanded beyond the team’s own networks.

Project Milestones

Phase 1: Implementation and Success Research

Research successful Instagram marketing in order to learn how social media influencers gain   followers, have an impact, and set themselves apart from other Instagram accounts.

Phase 2: Content Development 

Take a range of photos and gather content, stories, and experiences. Prior to launching the Instagram page, the goal is to have at least 15 photos ready to post so there is a steady stream of   content.

Phase 3: Launch and Progression

Launch the Instagram account and continuously post photos and videos. As the Instagram   following grows, followers will be asked to submit their own photos and stories for posting. All photos and videos will be reviewed for content and operate under the principles of Do No Harm.

Phase 4: Reflection

The project team will reflect on what content was most effective in stirring conversations and received the most engagements (measured by likes and comments). It will be determined if it is worthwhile (and possible) to curate content outside of Cairo and Washington, DC. During this reflection, the team will also develop a content calendar to ensure that the account remains vibrant   and active.

Expected Outcome

  • People who engage with the Instagram content get a firsthand look at the daily realities of life in Cairo and Washington, DC.
  • Viewers will have the chance to comment and ask questions, jumpstarting a dialogue. In addition, other individuals will be empowered to curate their own content and submit to the Instagram account for posting.
  • Users will have a better understanding of daily life in each country and counter dominant misperceptions that negatively affect portrayals of the other country.

Furthering the Foundation’s Mission

Social media has become a dominant medium for sharing daily realities and can serve as a powerful tool for challenging perceptions and bridging divides. This account will create inroads in new communities to explore, learn, and create virtual connections with their counterparts on the other side of the world. By showcasing daily life in a fun, virtual, and accessible way, misperceptions about each country can begin to be eradicated.