My American and Egyptian Identity


Maria Gorman

Important Monuments:

The Statue of Liberty

One thing that has impacted me is the Statue of Liberty and what it stands for. My grandparents immigrated from Greece when my mom was six.  They came to America in hope of a better life. The Statue of Liberty means a lot for my mom and also for me as it represents the longing for freedom and a better opportunity for many people in America. The Statue of Liberty also reminds me that America is a melting pot. I have learned so much about life by hearing about the experiences of so many different people.

The Great Pyramids of Giza

The Great Pyramids of Giza reflect the prosperous times in Egyptian History. The pyramids also reflect the power of the Pharaohs. The Great Pyramids are one of the Seven Wonders of the World left which reflects Egypt’s ancient history. Many people associate the Great Pyramids with Egypt. These pyramids are a constant reminder of Egypt’s rich ancient and ever-present history. The pyramids would remind me of the common ground that I share with all people from Egypt. They would help me relate to all other Egyptians, knowing the prominent history and accomplishments of Egypt that have shaped the world.


The Greek Orthodox Church

Growing up in America, I attended a Greek Orthodox church. I have grown up as a Christian due to my parents raising me in the faith. In America, Christianity is the most practiced faith with 65% of the population practicing Christianity. Therefore, I have never felt any oppression or ostracism due to my beliefs. My faith has shaped my life and the way that I view life and death and the afterlife. It determines my moral values and how I make decisions.

The Coptic Christian Church

Growing up in Egypt I could have been a Coptic Christian. In Egypt, the main religion is Islam (90% of the population) so therefore I would be a part of the minority religion. I would probably feel less confident in speaking about my religion. Growing up there would mean that I would have a different perspective by being a member of a minority religion. The icons that surround me in the church would appear more rudimentary and less human-like. I would have to fast for both Easter and Christmas while only eating a vegan-like diet which seems very difficult. Overall, being a Coptic Christian in Egypt seems harder than being a Christian in America.



I grew up speaking English as my primary language. I also knew a few Greek words and phrases from my mom, yet I was never fluent. I took Spanish as a second language which I was conversational but not fluent in. Speaking English has made it easy to communicate and travel as people from other countries tend to speak English. I wish I could speak fluently in another language as people from other countries are fluent in their native language and at least another language, typically English.

Egyptian Arabic

When there was a Muslim conquest of Egypt in the seventh century, Egypt adopted Arabic as it’s primary language. Today Egyptians speak Egyptian Arabic, which slightly differs from other forms of Arabic. Growing up in Egypt, I would have been speaking Egyptian Arabic. I would have learned other languages as many younger people in Egypt know multiple European languages and English. I may have been more intelligent if I had grown up in Egypt as learning multiple languages is very good for the brain.


School in America

In America, the education system has greatly impacted my life. I grew up going to Catholic schools from kindergarten through 12th grade which has influenced my life in terms of education and religion. I also learned to socialize and deal with various challenges throughout my education experience. The United States media places a great emphasis on high school and the expectations of high school students. This representation has influenced my perceptions of high school which made attending high school very underwhelming.

School in Egypt

The education system in Egypt differs greatly from America’s education system. First of all, females in Egypt are usually behind males in terms of education. However, there has been an Egypt Eduction Reform Project which has pushed for equal opportunities for education for both genders in Egypt. The way that the education system is broken up is also different in Egypt. Their system is broken up into elementary school (grades 1-6), secondary school(7-9), and senior secondary school(10-12). This would have altered my educational and developmental periods in my life as a child and adolescent.


Food in America

The cuisine in America tends to involve highly fatty, fried, and carb-loaded food. The taste of this food is very delicious, yet not the best for one’s health. Food has impacted my life in America because I have memories of backyard barbeques with family and friends. These moments have brought me closer to those whom I love and remind me of happy summer nights. The upside to food in America is that one can find a lot of different ethnic food varieties from Asian to Italian. 

Food in Egypt

The food in Egypt has lots of spices and has many similarities to Mediterranean food. There are a lot of dishes with legumes and vegetables such as Koshary, which is a mixture of rice, macaroni, and lentils. The food in Egypt seems to be healthier compared to American cuisine as it contains less meat and more vegetables. If I grew up in Egypt, the food would influence how I would pair spices and prepare food. The food would also bring up different kinds of memories with friends and families, revolving around Egyptian traditions. I am sure that I would Love Egyptian food knowing that I love Mediterranean food.

Major Cities:


A major influence in my life has been the city of Boston, Massachusetts. I grew up about 25 minutes from Boston and my family and I have paid a lot of visits there over the years. This city is rich in American history and I learned a lot from walking the Freedom Trail and seeing all the monuments and historic buildings. Visiting Boston has piqued my interest in American History. I have often reflected upon these events and their meanings for our country In the city.  Also, incidental to visiting the historic sites in Boston, I saw a lot of people expressing themselves through music and art and it inspired the artistic side of me.


Alexandria would have played a similar role in my life as Boston. Alexandria is a port city on the Mediterranean Sea and has a lot of historical significance for Egypt. I would have learned a lot about the Hellenic culture and Christian history from visiting Alexandria. I would have also learned a lot about Alexander the Great and his conquest of Egypt.  Alexandria was a Center of Trade in an important port for Naval operations. Through the various museums in Alexandria, I would have learned a lot about the arts and architecture of the time. Alexandria would have made me grow intellectually and personally if I lived in Egypt.


Dancing in America

Dance played an integral role in my life. I started learning ballet when I was 5 years old and participated in lyrical ballet when I was older. One popular form of dance in America is square dancing. When I was younger, every father-daughter dance was a square dance. The memories that I have associated with this type of dance will always have a sentimental meaning to me. Even now, when I no longer take dance classes, I still love to dance with my friends. Dancing for me has now become a form of self-expression. 

Dancing in Egypt

A popular form of dance is belly dancing. One of the most popular types of belly dancing in Egypt is the Beledi dance. People perform in this type of dance during celebrations and weddings. However, a lot of the time belly dancing can be seen as promiscuous in Egypt. Therefore, I would not belly dance in Egypt, or at least I would not take classes for it like Americans have dance classes for ballet.


Music in America

Music has played a major role in my life. My dad would always play classic American rock and many of the lyrics and the melodies still resonate with me today. The music that I grew up with has shaped how I think about the world. The Doors, the Talking Heads, Nirvana, and Red Hot Chili Peppers are still some of my favorite American Bands to this day. This music has been with me through my times of angst and as well as my times of joy and celebration. I have grown fond of listening to many new kinds of music thanks to my brother and my dad. American music has brought so many fond memories from my childhood. I remember gathering around the campfire singing Ring of Fire with my brothers. I also remember singing American Pie with my family as we drove along the Massachusetts coast. 

Music in Egypt

Egyptian music has far more of a history than American music. Ancient Egyptian music started around the Neolithic Period which involved chanting for religious rituals. The music that I would have grown up with if I lived in Egypt would probably have been popular. My favorite artists would be Amr Diab and Tamer Hosny as they have smooth voices and fun songs. Egyptian popular music today seems like dancing music. The songs do not seem to be songs that one would listen to and have an emotional response. However, some ballad-like sad songs still have Middle Eastern instruments that seem to be prevalent in Egyptian music. The instruments include the kamman, durbakk, o’ood, qanoon, and naay. The sound of this music has a lot of string instruments which sound very similar to the ancient Egyptian music that I have heard. This shows that modern Egyptians still have strong similarities to ancient Egyptian music.  It also reveals the role that Egypt had in Arabic and Middle Eastern music in general as many of the instruments and composition reflects ancient Egyptian music. 


Superstitions in America

In America, I have grown up believing in multiple superstitions. Whenever I say anything that could bring bad luck, I always knock on wood. Even if I am not near Wood I will go out of my way to knock on it to make sure nothing bad happens. Another common Superstition that I believe in is the fear of walking under a ladder. Whenever I need to use a ladder I make sure that I never walk under it because I do not want to get bad luck. These superstitions have shown me that I tend to worry about things a lot. Superstitions helped me to reflect on my own personality.

Superstitions in Egypt

In Egypt, a common superstition is a belief in the evil eye. The evil eye is described in the Quran and it has to do with the jealousy or evil eye of another person bringing bad luck. For example, an Egyptian might believe that if someone complimented their car, then their car might break down after the envy of the other person. To undo the bad luck, the Egyptians believed that one has to touch wood to protect against envy. I would have most likely have believed in that superstition and would have similarly touched wood to avoid the bad luck from the evil eye. I may have even worn jewelry to prevent bad luck.

Femme Fatale Tropes:

The Femme Fatale in America

In America, the femme fatale stereotype was portrayed mainly in movies after World War II. These American films depicted the fears of the soldiers coming back from war to find that their wives have been unfaithful. The women had newfound independence from working outside the home. A real-life example of an American femme fatale would be Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe was known to have had many partners in her life and most famously rumored to have had an affair with John F. Kennedy. I have always been intrigued by Marilyn Monroe and her mysterious life because she was such an iconic American figure. 

The Femme Fatale in Egypt

Cleopatra gained a reputation from the media as being a femme fatale. Although she had great power as a woman, the media represents her as a seductress who used her appeal to gain political power. Cleopatra was shown to have seduced both Marc Anthony and Julius Caesar, two of the most powerful and influential people in the Roman Empire at that time. The reputation of Cleopatra is still known to this day. If I had grown up in Egypt, I definitely would have heard of Cleopatra and her reputation.


Sports in America

American Football is the most popular sport in America. Tailgates are major social events revolving around football. The sport is the center of a lot of discussion in America and it brings a lot of people together. I have never played football, yet my family is very into watching football. I never really liked watching football too much, yet I do enjoy the camaraderie surrounding football parties and tailgates.

Sports in Egypt

In Egypt, the major sport is football or soccer to Americans. The main teams, El Zamalek and Al Ahly are based in Cairo. Although many people watch national football, they also watch club football as well. I think that I would enjoy the social aspects surrounding football in Egypt and might enjoy it more than American football since people are not being tackled.


The Charles River

The Charles River is prominent in Massachusetts. The Charles River runs between Cambridge and Boston. The Native Americans originally knew about the river and called it Quinobequin, or “meandering”. When Captain John Smith explored Massachusetts and its features, he named the Charles River after King Charles I. The Charles River became a source of hydropower for industrialization in Massachusetts. I have a great connection to the Charles River because I remember going on Duck Boats with my family and close friends after a visit to the Museum of Science. These tours impacted how I saw Boston and the influence of the Charles River. Another connection that I have to this River was when my mom and I would walk along the Charles River to watch the sunset. These memories shaped who I am today and brought me closer to those I love.

The Nile River

The Nile River was essential for civilization to start in Egypt. It is one of the longest rivers in the world and runs through eleven countries. The fertile soil allowed ancient Egyptians to easily farm and to start a habitable civilization. The fertile soil and constant flooding allowed for the cultivation of food for the Egyptians. Most people live close to the Nile River, even to this day. Living in Egypt, I would have acknowledged the important history and source of life that the Nile provided Egypt. I would have great respect for the Nile and would observe its beauty as well.