Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Exchange Student ‘Starved’ in Egypt

Elijah Zarwan, from Egypt, discusses a wire story about a 17-year-old American exchange student who was allegedly ‘starved’ after being paired with a Christian Coptic family, which fasts for 200 days a year.

17 comments

  • As the boy is still alive you should remove the “to death” from your descriptions – it just isn’t correct.

  • Thanks Simon.. that was before breakfast .. and it was me who was starving to death :(

  • […] مترجم Hamid Tehrani· به نوشته اصلی مراجعه کنید […]

  • tayfan2

    After reading this in the paper, I decided to search out more information. There definitely is more to this story. After reading the other theories, I suspect that this kid went to Egypt and felt guilt. American children are conditioned today to feel guilty about any type of success or progress we have here in America. He probably tried to adjust to a different culture and religious practice by ignoring his common sense. I feel that his Facebook postings were a “badge” of the sacrifices he was making as a “strapping” possibly overfed American. I’m sure he had money and access to help. I bet he stole food to somehow in his mind put himself in the place of a hungry person. Kids today are also savvy. I would not be surprised to see a book out of this where I’m sure so called “American excess” will be condemned.

  • Heidi

    Amira, thanks for bringing this up. I was an AFS exchange student, and it is hard for a student to bring up a problem for fear of making an international incident out of it. I don’t know what the AFS representative in Egypt was thinking either. Perhaps they were afraid to make an incident out of it as well. AFS is a wonderful organization and there are cases where situations have to go beyond the local chapter. My daughter who was an AFSer in Japan needed some help with a medical issue through the headquarters. Someone has to be keeping an eye on the student. There needs to be recourse and checks and balances. Apparently in this case they broke down.
    I hope this terrible incident doesn’t cause more damage than it is worth. It is a horrible situation for the young man, but it is one family, one student. There have been many wonderful exchanges in Egypt and all over the world. Many of us have gained wonderful insights into culture and people across the globe.
    No one or no program is perfect. Please let us continue to communicate across the boarders.
    Heidi

  • Angela

    I feel this host family should have seen this boy losing so much weight and sent him back home. Religion or not they should have seen that he was not in good health and instead of making silly sayings that he hate for an hour and a half which shows the host family as a liar, since he was losing the weight instead of gaining to eat as the family had said. Seems to me the host family is a very sick family and needs help in telling the truth and seeing the truth.

  • scotts mom

    Here in the US we would never let a child, no matter the age to starve themselves or be starved. I have known alot of host families and this just was not right.Feelings of guilt were do you get that information? My children are very suceesful as was I, and we in no way feel any guilt for being sucessful. A feeling of pity on those who had the oppurtunity to successful but choosed no to, thats it but no guilt.

  • Heidi

    I agree with both of you that this host family was sick and lying. However, in the USA there are families who starve their own children. That is abuse and it is cruelty. We in America are not above that. Please don’t see this as a cultural thing. Nor is it religious. There are so many good and wonderful families out all over the world.
    We had a sick exchange student for a few weeks. We tried to make her last few weeks in the US happy ones. She refused to eat with us. Instead she spent her own money on junk food, ate privately in her room and hid the garbage and trash under her bed. The exchange program felt that it was time to send her home. It was hard on all of us. We were sad for her.
    Good luck in all your success and let’s focus on good people and good experiences.

  • BAMBI

    I DO HOPE THIS IS ALL ON THE UP AND UP. AS A HOST MOTHER OF 9 EXCHANGE STUDENTS, I ASK WHERE WAS THE REP, ORGONIZATION, SCHOOL FACULTY OR ANYONE WATCHING OVER THIS CHILD?
    WE MAKE SURE OUR GIRLS EAT. WE TRY TO EAT HEALTHY AND THEY EVEN GO HOME A LITTLE HEAVIER.
    I DO HOPE THIS DOES NOT STOP STUDENTS FROM TRYING THE PROGRAM. I THINK IT IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS OUR FAMILY HAS EVER DONE. WE HAVE ONE DAUGHTER AND ONE GRANDSON AND THEY LOVE MEETING THE GIRLS AND LEARNING THE DIFFERENT CULTURES. WE ALL ARE EXCITED TO SHOW THEM OUR CULTURE AND BELIEFS.
    GRANTED SOME CULTURES ARE SO DIFFERENT AND HARD TO UNDERSTAND BUT THESE ARE CHILDREN WHO NEED TO BE PROTECTED. THEY MAY BE 16-18 YEARS OLD BUT THEY STILL NEED TO BE TREATED AS OUR OWN.
    IF ANYONE HAS HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH THIS PROGRAM, I DO HOPE IT IS NOT DO TO IGNORANCE OF THE FAMILIES THESE STUDENTS ENTRUST THEIR LIVES WITH. THIS SHOULD BE A LIFE ALTERING EXPERIENCE, NOT DISTRUCTIVE.
    I PRAY FOR THIS BOY AND ANY OTHER STUDENTS WHO HAVE HAD A BAD TIME. THESE STUDENTS STUDY SO HARD TO BE ABLE TO GO TO OTHER COUNTRIES AND THE PARENTS SPEND SO MUCH TIME AND MONEY TO ALLOW THEM TO GO.

  • rehab

    do you realise that in egypt u can have a great fulling breakfast for five pounds this is less than one dllar
    a meal in macdonald cost about 4 dollars i think he could have easily feed himself if he want to

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site