What do you find when you walk into a bustling, third world country, teeming with tourists while holding tightly to its traditional Muslim roots? A country in transition.

Culturally, Egyptians are wholly committed to their religious roots but they are also very aware of the Western world creeping into their borders. They admire it, want to be like it, and idolize the American spirit in many ways. However, they have an extremely unique history that drastically shaped the world we live in today. Sounds like society has ticked full circle to me!

The Egyptian pound ebbs and flows from markets and produce stands to tourism and trinket shops. The Egyptian economy is greatly affected from its government’s involvement. When a student nears completion of his/her secondary education (high school), they write a list of their top desired professions. The government pools the available professions and desired professions and assigns a life-long career to each student. Those students then either cheer or make the best of their situation and study for a few years at the University (completely government-funded education).

Meet Fatima; a passionate 20-something history major with three children at home. She defies many stereotypes and thoroughly enjoys her life’s profession. I was enamored by her passion and love for her country’s history and its impact on society’s evolution. She works in the country’s most successful tourism shop (which is government certified) and accounts her sales success to her true love of her job.

I asked her in many which ways, to see if she’d change or elaborate her answer, why she has been so successful. It always came back to her personality and passion. As a tourist in her shop prior to interviewing her, I can totally attest to that truth. My husband and I had three pieces of papyrus art on the check-out counter due to her thorough description and demonstration. Her genuine love for Egypt’s history was infectious.

We can all learn from Fatima. We can learn from her determination; even with her religious and familial commitment she still pursued her career wholeheartedly. We can learn from her personality; with each question we asked her, her optimism only grew. We can learn from her passion; her passion defined her, which arguably is what drives her success.

Written by Corinne Ables