Gihan Boulues and her family pose in front of the Pyramids of Giza. Boules and her family spent the entire summer there after not returning to Egypt for seven years.
Gihan Boulues and her family pose in front of the Pyramids of Giza. Boules and her family spent the entire summer there after not returning to Egypt for seven years.
Isabelle Phillips

Staff Member Returns Home to Egypt After Seven Years

LHS teacher spends a summer in Egypt, her homeland.

She steps off the plane, the hot summer air hitting her face and the last 15 hours suddenly seeming worth it. Her eyes swell with tears as she gazes at her surroundings, memories flooding in. She cannot believe it has been seven years. She cannot believe she is home.

Life skills teacher Gihan Boulues and her family traveled to Cairo, Egypt to visit for the entire summer. Boulues and her family left their home in Egypt seven years ago to pursue the American Dream. This was her family’s first time to visit since they left.

[The] summer of 2017 I graduated [from LHS], and I got to travel to Egypt,” Boulues’s son Armia Abdelshahid said. “I was very [excited], and I honestly did not know what to expect because I was 11 years old when I left Egypt, and now I’m almost 19.”

Boulues’s husband worked in a tourist environment and fell in love with America and the people who live in it. It had always been his dream to move to the U.S., and he had a specific place in mind.

“He used to work with mostly American people,” Boulues said. “Especially when they came from Texas, he [liked] them the most. I don’t know [why]. He just dreamed of coming to Texas, but when I came here, I realized why. I like [the] Texas area, especially [the] Lindale family and community. It’s a good Christian community. I love it. People are so nice [and] very friendly.”

While Boulues and her family loves her home here in Texas, she agreed that it was time for a visit. For Abdelshahid, the trip to Egypt meant reconnecting with not only his family, but his roots. He is the second child of four and the journey to the place he grew up was very nostalgic.

One of the main factors I visited Egypt for was family and friends,”  Abdelshahid said. “It was an amazing moment to see all of them happy and in a good health. Now, the second reason would be seeing my [homeland], the place I learned how to walk, the room that I used to sleep in. It was awesome sleeping in my home in Egypt. It actually did feel like [I was] at home.”

During their time spent in Egypt they toured many of the country’s historical figures. They visited the pyramids, rode camels and scuba dived in the Red Sea. However, the beautiful scenery was not the only thing on Boulues’s mind.

“I was very concerned honestly before I left,” Boulues said. “Before we [went] on that trip because of what we hear about what is going on in the Middle East, especially the Egypt area. We were really concerned, but when we [got] there it was really safe, Egypt [is a] beautiful country like it used to be.”

Due to the religious persecution in the Middle East right now, Egypt can be considered dangerous for travelers.

“Here is more freedom,” Boulues said. “More freedom to worship God. Nobody here asks you what your religion is. In Egypt you write your religion on your driver license. If you have an ID, you have to write down if you are Muslim, Christian, whatever your religion is. Here nobody [cares] what your religion is.”

My kids always say, ‘mom, everywhere they have a good side or not good, things that you like, things that you don’t. Human is human, American or Egyptian and everywhere in the world human is human.

— Gihan Boulues

There are many differences between the United States and Egypt. From daily life to the economy and education, the visit revealed the differences in the two lands. 

“Family was something I noticed to be kind of different because in Egypt family seemed to be really close together,” Abdelshahid said. “Here in America, families kind of scatter [as] time goes by. I also noticed in Egypt everyday is a whole new day and an adventure, in America I feel like most of the time life is like a routine, school to work to home and start over. It is kind of hard to find jobs in Egypt.  I noticed it wasn’t something easy to get like here in the U.S. I also noticed education in Egypt was very poor, it wasn’t as great as America. I believe America has the number one best education. Finally, the most important thing I found here in America and not in Egypt was freedom–Freedom in everything, college, [clothes] we wear, religion and freedom of speech, and that is something very tremendous.”

For Boulues, the differences do not matter, each country is her home in some way. Although, as time has gone by, Boulues feels much deeper roots for her life in America, specifically Lindale. She and her family acquired their citizenship two years ago and are very proud.

“The very basics of [being] human, everybody has it,” Boulues said. “My kids like it here more, me too, even if Egypt is my homeland. When I [was] back this time I [felt that] I belonged to here more.”

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    Emma CookOct 6, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    It’s so cool to learn more about someone’s past especially if they’re from another country.