Esraa Hegab

People in SEKEM: Esraa Hegab

Esraa knows what she expects from life and which goals she is chasing. This wasn´t always the case, shown by a look into her story. The 25-year-old is an art teacher at the SEKEM School. For students from grade two until nine, she gives courses in drawing and painting. Since only one year Esraa understood that she really wants to be a teacher – although she is working in the SEKEM School for two years now. “In the past, it was never my dream to become a teacher”, she says. “After I finished school my mother tried to persuade me to go to the Faculty of Education and become a teacher. But I wasn’t interested”. Instead, Esraa decided to study accounting.

Being the oldest of three children, she had always been trying to find her own way and couldn´t follow the footsteps of an older sibbling. She grew up in Ezbet El-Deep in the district of Al Sharqia. Her father was a vet, her mother took care of the children and the household. In order to improve the financial situation of the family, her father moved to Kuwait. With eleven years, Esraa followed him with the rest of the family. In Kuwait, she went to school and at the age of 18 she returned to Egypt, where she started to study.

During her days in school, Esraa visited SEKEM together with her classmates. Later, while studying, trips to the SEKEM farm were offered again, where she participated. During one of these excursions she met a teacher of the SEKEM School, who told her that SEKEM is searching for new teachers – for computer science and art. Since Esraa´s childhood she loves to paint and draw, and not feeling fulfilled by her studies, she decided to apply for the position. “For me it was crucial that people in SEKEM are thinking differently about certain things. The teachers and the applied methods, for example, are much more adapted to the need of students, in comparison to many other schools in Egypt”, Esraa explains. That thereby the original wish of her mother became true wasn´t really clear for Esraa at the beginning.

“I think it would be very good for our country, if we have more women in the government and leading positions.”

Since she started to work at SEKEM, a big concern for Esraa became the improvement of the educational system in Egypt. In 2013, Egypt was ranked last by the World Economic Forum comparing 148 countries in regards to the quality of primary schools. According to Esraa, there is a lack of well-trained teachers. “We need people, who want to improve our educational system with great passion and conviction”. Also the role of women in Egypt is a critical issue for Esraa. Many women don´t believe in themselves and are too dependent on their husbands. “I think it would be very good for our country, if we have more women in the government and leading positions. We just need to realize how important we as females are for a society and what strength we have”, she says. At SEKEM she realized a gender project with some students. “Through various role plays, students could immerse in the different perspectives of women and men and I hope that it will help them in the future to shape an equal society”.

Esraa hasn´t found an own family yet – also because she is still looking for the right person. It is important for her that her future husband is open-minded and also able to understand and respect her needs and views. Esraa has already thought about becoming a mother herself. “I always had the idea that I´m going to adopt a child and raise it alone”. However, when her father died several years ago, Esraa was aware of the difference to live without both parents. Eversince, she can also imagine to have own children someday and raise them together with her husband. When time comes, the confident teacher wants to continue to go to work. “I know that it will be tough. But I will try to handle work and family”.

“I almost live inside a bus.”

A little bit skeptical of her work at the beginning, Esraa is now convinced that she had chosen the right job. “To work with children, teach them something relevant and see how they understand and become proud of their own; these are the best moments during my work”. The young teacher attaches great importance to the personal relationship to the children. “It is important to recognize and accept that every child is different. There is no right or wrong – especially in art. Everyone has his own way of seeing things or, to stay within the filed of art, of seeing colors”.

Esraa can be regarded as a classical newcomer who has turned her passion into her profession with great effort and a strong volition. For her future she already has concrete plans. “In one year, I would love to have my own flat – preferably near to the SEKEM Farm”. Currently, Esraa needs almost four hours to get to the work and back home. “I almost live inside a bus”, she says with a laugh. On weekdays she gets up at 5am and is back home around 7pm. In her little spare time she loves to cook and read. Esraa can imagine to continue working for SEKEM the next years. However, she has a little dream for the future: “At some point, I would like to found an art club, where artists can exchange about art and we can teach other people something about art. Art is something wonderful for me and I hope that as many people as possible could experience it”.

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