Fleeing Egyptian Turmoil, Kaldas Lands at Stratford

Mariam Kaldas left Egypt for the U.S. this summer as her home country descended into violent unrest. Just two months later, she started her first day at Stratford’s upper school with the rest of the freshmen class.Kaldas arrived in Macon from Cairo with her mother and brother. Her father, who owns a factory in Egypt, stayed behind.“We will come for visits and we are working on it for him to come live here,” Kaldas said. Kaldas left a country that has been thrown into turmoil by the Egyptian military’s removal of President Mohamed Morsi in a July coup.

Morsi was elected in 2012 after longtime Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak was overthrown as part of the Arab Spring, a wave of popular uprisings in the Middle East that began in 2010. But Morsi lost power after leading a divisive government that was accused of upending the country’s young democracy and failing to implement promised reforms.

Kaldas speaks four languages: French, Arabic, English, and Spanish. She is fluent in French after studying in Paris for two years. As for English, Kaldas said “she understands what the teachers are trying to say” in class but is still struggling with slang – as well as how quickly Americans speak.

Kaldas was well known in her home town because she played for the biggest girls soccer team in Egypt. She has gotten involved at Stratford by playing percussion in the marching band.

Kaldas is still adjusting to the cultural differences between Egypt and the U.S., commenting there is more liberty and that people are more open. She also noted that the clothing is different – and how it is unusual to see somebody go out in mini shorts in Egypt. Here, girls wear them daily.