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Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Remembering home

Senior recounts journey from Egypt 4 years ago

She could still remember the way Egypt was.

The apartment buildings in the city she lived in. The food stalls her family would often buy fresh fruits and vegetables from. The smell of beans and falafel in the morning.

She loved the walks she took to see her friends. She could easily go to their houses, then walk with them to the playground at their church. Everything was close to her.

“It was fun,” she said. “The spaces between the two places are not as far. You can just come with me and walk, and you can go anywhere.”

It was 14 years before they could legally emigrate, by which time senior Joy Aziz was in 8th grade. But for her family, it was worth the wait to be finally reunited with Joy’s aunt. 

“I was crying,” Joy said. “It was happy crying because [my family] couldn’t believe that finally, we got to get together again. Basically the last time they were living together was 1998.” 

America also brought freedom to Joy’s family from the religious discrimination they experienced in Egypt.

I’ve learned that whatever happens in your life the people who love you will be here for you.

— Joy Aziz, 12

“In Egypt, we tend to get some of like, I don’t want to say abuse, but there’s kind of like racism from like the religion part, since we’re not Muslim, we’re Christian,” Joy said.

Joy’s family was never personally treated differently, but their church as a whole was. Their Coptic Orthodox Church back in Egypt was bombed on Palm Sunday in 2017.

Joy says that events like this are nothing new to her and her family.

“We actually take it as a pride because if we died in the name of Christ, we just go to heaven,” Joy said. “So it’s more of a pride that happened to us.”

Here, religion felt safer. But America brought new challenges that Joy’s family had to adjust to. 

Listening to the boys in school mock her accent, Joy remembers wondering why she was even here. Everyone seemed to dislike her, and it bothered her more than she wanted. Even the places she thought would bring her comfort in America made her feel excluded.

“I was kind of shocked because I go to a church where it’s all Egyptian,” Joy said. “It should be the same way as I was treated. I was not expecting them to be not welcoming, because I bet they know how it feels.”

Still, Joy always found comfort in her family. Despite her parents working and being tired by the end of the day, they make an effort to spend time together.

Joy Aziz and her family moved from Egypt to America when she was in 8th grade. They moved to be reunited with her aunt on her mom’s side of the family. Photo Ana Myers-Olvera

“We find a time where we sit together and joke around for a little bit even if it was for 10 minutes,” Joy said. “That would made my entire day.”

In America, Joy not only had no friends, but her life changed too. School days were suddenly an extra two hours longer, and the weekend consisted of Saturday and Sunday instead of Friday and Saturday.

“It was different, getting out really late for me,” Joy said. “In Egypt I used to only stay [in school] for six hours. Those two hours make a big difference.”

Even school was different for Joy. Though Joy learned English back in Egypt, she rarely had to speak it. When school started up, Joy remembers the nerves she felt and the struggle to communicate with others.

“I felt like I’m missing something, or like I’m not capable of speaking,” Joy said. “It was hard to communicate with people, teachers, students around me. I used to hold my phone just in case I didn’t understand anything, I would just translate it right away.”

Joy continued forward, and after some time, began to make friends. She became best friends with some people in her 8th grade PE class who she still is best friends with today. 

“It was hard to accept people or being rude to me, even though they don’t know me yet,” Joy said. “But once I found my friends, I guess it kind of got me back to where I used to have my own friends.”

Though Joy was taught English in Egypt, she was taught British English. Joy’s friends helped to introduce her to American words and terminology.

I felt like I’m missing something or like I’m not capable of speaking.

— Joy Aziz, 12

“One time I was eating cookies, but then I used to call them biscuits because this is how I learned it,” Joy said. “They were like ‘What are you eating?’. I was like ‘This is a biscuit’ and then she was like ‘No, that’s cookies.’”

Even with the struggle, Joy is happy to have met new people and see her family reunited.

“I’ve learned that whatever happens in your life the people who love you will be here for you,” Joy said. “Especially family.”

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About the Contributor
Roslyn Dobbins
Roslyn Dobbins, Reporter
Roslyn Dobbins (she/her) is a senior on staff who loves books because the movie adaptations are usually awful. She may not always seem the most enthusiastic but that’s just because she is awkward around people. Don’t be too harsh on her, she is doing her best. In her free time she ice skates and secretly likes impressing her friends with her mediocre skills. 

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