As a young child in a family of Arab/African American descent, my interest in my heritage grew through travel, leafing through magazines and photographic books, attending lectures about the Arab world, watching Arabic films, and listening to music. With my father and siblings, we formed a musical group, the Foty Fusion, which combines Arabic and Western music including gospel, Hip Hop, and Rhythm and Blues.
At Wilson High School in Washington, DC, my interest in History developed through teachers who approached the subject from a critical perspective. This helped me develop a sense of healthy skepticism about the standard historical narratives whether focused on the United States or elsewhere. This perspective also proved useful in the course of my internship as a research assistant at the Howard Zinn Educational Project in Washington, DC during the Summer of 2011.The Project's outreach program was designed to familiarize US public school students with the analytical orientation which guided Howard Zinn's writing of the "People's History of the United States". In the course of this internship I reviewed submissions from across the US for inclusion in a database that documents neglected themes in the standard historical record. Even prior to the internship experience, this approach enabled me to better understand the histories of marginalized communities in the United States. This understanding supported my work on Immigration Rights at Wilson High School, and later at the University of Michigan where I prepared a research paper focused on the concept of Jewish orthodoxy among immigrants to the United States in the 19th century.
At University of Michigan, I enrolled primarily in History courses related to the Middle East, Africa, and the African American experience, along with the study of Mass Communication in historical context. My interest in History was not restricted to formal coursework but extended to extracurricular activities. During my undergraduate years I combined my interests in History with Mass Communication in the course of my activities as organizer of the annual Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival and as choreographer of Palestinian Dance Troupe.
While enrolled at U of M I completed two research papers, one of which was related to my term of study abroad at the American University in Cairo during the January 25th uprising in Egypt. I was exposed to the history of Egypt through courses, including Modern Egyptian History: From Mohamed Ali to Abdel Nasser, the History of the Modern Middle East, and the Cinema of Egypt and the Arab World. This allowed me to place the current events in Egypt within a larger historical context. In fulfilling the requirements for these courses, I completed an Oral History project based on the personal narratives of a selected group of Egyptian artists, students, and small business owners.
Upon my return to University of Michigan, I decided to undertake a comparative study of the uprising in Egypt and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the United States. This comparison involved a critique of reductionist historical accounts which assign the designation "Facebook/Youth revolution" to the January uprising, and the Rosa Parks incident to the Civil Rights Movement. Such reductionist accounts ignore the protracted struggle of Egyptians, including the many demonstrations by unions and professional syndicates, which preceded January 25th. As in the Egyptian case where dissent was ignored, historical accounts of the Montgomery Bus Boycott often focus on Rosa Parks while ignoring other figures, including Claudette Colvin, Jo Ann Robinson, among others whose role was integral to the struggle for Civil Rights. Rather than focus on individuals, or a selected social entity such as Rosa Parks or Egyptian Youth, my research adopted a social history perspective which involves a holistic structural approach.
I later went on to obtain a Masters of Near Eastern History from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, "the world's leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East". I wrote my thesis on the Voice of the Arabs radio station in Egypt, and how mass communication including nationalistic songs impacted a support for Pan-Arabism at the time. Currently, I am pursuing a Phd in Film History at Trinity College in Dublin in Egyptian Cinema.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor - Bachelors, HISTORY MINOR: African and Afro-American Studies
Graduate Degree: Trinity College of Dublin - PHD, Film History
Music, Sports, History
College Level American Literature
Elementary School Reading
Elementary School Writing
High School English
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Middle School Reading Comprehension
Middle School Writing
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is to adapt to the needs of each student and to be creative in the ways in which I teach. I use music, media, and the arts as integral tools in my teaching strategy.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I first think it is imperative to get to know the student so that I can best cater my teaching method to their specific needs and interests.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By having them understand their strengths to best serve them in the learning process.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Constantly changing up activities, and interactive learning.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Use examples of things they like to explain the concept.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Break down the story into parts, and ask them questions about what they think is going on in simple language.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Interactive learning, using art, film, media, sports, music, etc.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Incorporate one of their hobbies or interests into the subject.