The state of the stateless youth of Egypt

3 years ago

It's August, the weather couldn't be worse. We're still on lockdown, I'm contemplating my plans for the next year. But I only have one thing on my mind, military service. I feel as if my life is on halt. I can't commit to any plans because I know I'll have to abandon them next year. I had plans for this summer too which were mainly to find an internship, I thought it'd be a studying and problem solving experience but it turned out to be more of a rejection and ghosting experience. I'm fighting among my peers for slave labour and I can't even get it. Imposter syndrome hits hard sometimes, but even most of my more qualified peers are also sharing my exact same struggle. This was my last summer as a free man and I can't help but feel the guilt that I had wasted it. I know I haven't wasted it, I've accumulated more knowledge this summer than I did my whole life, still I feel like I'm missing out.

The internship hunt

I've been ghosted so many times that it'd put horror movies to shame. I've been lucky enough to make it into a couple of interviews only to be ghosted once more after the interview without any feedback. My skin has grown thicker no doubt about that, but it still hurts everytime. I just wish employers would communicate more when asked for feedback just so I could improve for my next try. The learning experience is stagnating significantly due to this lack of communication.

The bar for entry is raised unrealistically high for internships in Egypt. Interns are expected to be unpaid juniors instead of learning students. This mainly stems from the stinginess of opportunities for interns. Most internships are based in Cairo, where employers usually wouldn't employ interns from external provinces, maybe juniors but almost never interns. I have resorted to desperate measures to hide my residence on my resume just to get a shot, though I admittedly had a couple of awkward screenings that went like "So you don't reside in Cairo, huh?". I never said my methods were the best but I usually wouldn't get a shot otherwise.

I'm still trying because I know I only need one try to succeed. It's a numbers game at this point.

Mandatory military service

One of the biggest mysteries to me is why such a system is still in place to this day. I have never met anyone who was thrilled to lose his "freedom" and sell canned food for the army for 1 - 3 years. Everyone sees this as a waste of time and resources yet we never talk about it publicly. Those who want to serve their countries by bearing arms already volunteer in exuberance, so much so that most of them get rejected.

I'm stuck feeling like my destiny isn't of my own making and I have to give up because none of it matters. My life will be suspended for a few years (hopefully only one or better, none.), and there's little I could do about it. I do not wish to bear arms ever in my life and would try my hardest not to.

Toxicity among the youth

Young men in Egypt would accept any criticism unless it's concerning their country, their religion, their beliefs, their family, their favourite football player.. Argument is the bad word in Egypt. We can't disagree on any issue, there's only one true way that goes with the Social Values™ whatever that is. Liberty in Egypt is discussing cooking recipes without altering the ingredients. This is a thing that carried over from football; football culture usually has this mob mentality where if you disagree, then you must be rooting for the other team, and that's not acceptable. It's either with or against, you must pick sides.

We've been practicing social distancing perhaps a little too well; we spend all this time behind a screen that we often forget that on the other end is another human being. We often say things, do things online that we wouldn't do to another person in real life with good conscience. I'm not unguilty of doing this but I'm not without guilt. I hope more people are conscious of this and adjust their behaviour online accordingly.