January 30, 2010
While University of Virginia graduate student Amira Barakat studies in Charlottesville, she can't help but think of her family in Egypt.
"Mostly what goes through my head is, 'Wow, it's happening,'" she said.
Barakat was born in Egypt and spent much of her life in the country now home to protests and an uprising against its own government.
"It's necessary," she says of the protests. "It's been a very much needed change, so definitely proud of everyone out there."
Barakat spoke with her family on Sunday. While most are safe, staying outside of their hometown of Cairo, some of her cousins are in the thick of it all.
"The younger generation is participating in the protest," she said.
She said she's concerned for their safety, but that doesn't take away her pride.
"I'm very proud of them," Barakat said. "I'm really happy that they're out there and doing this more than anything."
From her own experiences in Egypt, Barakat said she saw high unemployment, poverty and inequality. That's what protesters have been speaking out against for nearly a week.
"If people aren't out there doing this, then nothing is going to change," she said. "And change needs to happen. It's needed to happen for so long."
Barakat is unsure of what the future holds for both herself and Egypt. She said she'd consider returning once she receives her master's degree from the Darden School of Business. For now, she says, her family is ready for what the future holds for their country.
"I think what comes next is scary, but there is a sense of positivity that at least this reign is over," Barakat said.
The pictures in the newspaper and video on television are the images Barakat will remember. Her home in Cairo may be miles away but remains close to her heart.