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HAPPENINGS Eyes on the Middle East In 2011, when uprisings in Middle Eastern countries were front-page news, many students at St. Edward’s looked on with interest as people of their generation took to the streets to transform their governments. But few had as close a connection to the action as Laila Al-Yafi ’10, MLA ’13. Al-Yafi, whose mother is from Austin and whose father is from Saudi Arabia, spent 18 years of her childhood in Bahrain, which borders Saudi Arabia and also went through political unrest in 2011. “I wasn’t there during the 2011 events, but my friends were,” Al-Yafi says. “I have some Shia friends, and I have some Sunni friends. I actually saw friendships break up for a while 6 because of the issues that were tearing the area apart.” Al-Yafi, who was focusing her master’s coursework on global studies at the time, made the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East the subject of her special project in the Master of Liberal Arts program. She looked at the manifestation of political Islamism and the creator of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, whose ideas she found relevant to the emerging Middle Eastern political climate. “I learned a lot more about my culture by stepping out of it and examining it from an outsider’s perspective,” Al-Yafi says. “Because social media sped up the process and brought down the [Egyptian] regime of 30 years in just 14 days, people expected the revolution to have immediate change. And what people forget is that revolutions take decades or centuries. We live in a time when you can download anything instantaneously, and people forget to be patient. That’s one thing I worry about for our generation — that we’re just revolutionists, and that we only think about short-term rather than long-term goals.” Al-Yafi, who is now back in Bahrain, hopes to become a magazine writer and further her knowledge of the politics of the area. Eventually, she sees herself coming back to Austin to earn her doctorate. —Lisa Thiegs ST. EDWARD’S UNIVERSITY 7310 SEU.indd 6 5/15/14 6:45 AM

St. Edward's University Magazine Spring/Summer 2014

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