Young man smiles at camera, kitchen in background

One Hundred Percent Egyptian

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By Stephen Johnson

Mina Girgis, a recent Bachelor of Science in Biology graduate, shared the story of his Egyptian heritage and how it impacted his experience at Oakland and beyond.

Tell me about your background and how you came to be here in the United States.

I am 100% Egyptian. My parents both emigrated here from Egypt when they were in their early twenties.

What are some of the differences between Egyptian and American lifestyle?

My parents had a much different lifestyle in Egypt. They always wanted me to be wary of Americans who are corrupt and just not genuine. Not to bash anyone, but I do notice that a lot of people from my community are more genuine and really quick to help out anyone in need. They go out of their way to accommodate someone even if they don’t know them. I feel like that’s different compared to people here.

What are the experiences that have most influenced you and why?

One of the biggest experiences I had was going to Nicaragua in 2016 with Global Medical Brigades at OU. We set up a clinic at a school in a really poor village. You always hear about what it’s like living in third-world countries, but it’s totally different when you actually go there and see what it’s like first-hand. A really big eye-opener for me was how some people there had nothing but the clothes on their backs and were still so happy. I couldn’t help but feel guilty when I came back and realized all the things we take for granted.

How has diversity and/or inclusion on OU’s campus shaped your growth as an individual?

One of the really cool things OU had was Diversity Day where people of all sorts of different cultures and backgrounds would set up a tent in the Gold Room of the Oakland Center. It was really cool to see that OU is embracing all sorts of different walks of life, and a lot of the friends I made on campus came from events like that.

Where do you feel comfortable and/or safe in expressing your identity on campus?

A place that I really liked at OU was the library. I met a lot of people just by going there so frequently and staying so long. When I first started going, there were a lot of people I would see every single day but I had no idea who they were. After being in the same place and doing the same thing for so long, we would eventually just start talking and getting to know each other. That’s honestly how I met a good amount of people at OU.

Young man smiles at camera, kitchen in background
Mina Girgis, a recent Oakland University graduate, poses at his home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, on Saturday, October 26, 2019. Photo credit: Stephen Johnson.

If you could change (or improve) one thing about the world, what would it be?

One thing I would change is how people with power are policed and how corruption is dealt with. I think that the world is more divided now than it’s ever been because there’s so much greed and corruption everywhere. There’re not enough checks and balances, and there’s people that can just get away with whatever they want because nobody will dare to take them down. I wish that was different.

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