Student from Shelbyville returns from Egypt; shares her story

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Another day of political rallies in Cairo lasted into the night Sunday, which marked the 13th day of protests against President Mubarak. Gunfire could be heard near Tahrir Square as demonstrators waved flags and chanted. Egypt's Vice President met with opposition groups on Sunday in an effort to end the rallies.

Twenty-year-old Sana Saiyed was caught up in the unrest and has just returned from Egypt - but she wanted to stay.

Saiyed, who was studying abroad at the American University of Cairo, returned to the United States last week. She said she is readjusting to life here, but added she left behind valuable friendships and an internship with the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Saiyed was scheduled to stay in Egypt until June, but her family followed the advice of the state department and booked her a flight back to Massachusetts where she is enrolled at a university there.

"Everything was normal," Saiyed said. "I don't think anybody really imagined this would happen."

Five months into her trip, Saiyed said she received a Facebook invite to protest about a week before the riots started.

"The Egyptians were patiently waiting for 30 years and nothing had changed and finally youth on Facebook decided to get together and make this protest and it became something so huge," Saiyed said.

Saiyed says the chants that left the biggest impression on her were the words: "Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice".

"They weren't just fighting for Mubarak to step down. They were really just fighting for really fundamental things - people in Egypt can't afford to buy bread," Saiyed said.

As the Egyptians continued fighting for basic rights, some of Saiyed's friends participated.

"One of my friends was hit with a baton," Saiyed recalled. "Another one had gotten tear gassed."

Saiyed says she could hear gunshots and smell tear gas from her apartment, but through it all she never feared for her safety.

"It was this place I was living and suddenly something like this erupts," Saiyed said. "I don't think very many people have the opportunity to say that. I really felt great for the Egyptian people because it was time something like this happened."

Mubarak has refused to step down until scheduled elections in September.

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