You are hereCU students lose contact with families in Egypt
CU students lose contact with families in Egypt
‘You’ve got mail.’ It’s a common phrase many of us come across daily when we use social media. But for a couple of CU students from Egypt, the phrase took on a whole new meaning two weeks ago after the Egyptian government cut all national cell phone and Internet service.
“It was really hard. For a week I was not able to talk to my parents. I had no idea if they were safe or if they were in danger,” said Karim Balbaa, a sophomore at CU. His family lives in Cairo and normally communicates with him using Skype. “I was just hoping for the internet to come back,” he said.
And he wasn’t the only one. Osama Binal, a Ph.D. student at CU, was also unable to contact his family and friends in Egypt. “It’s just horrible. I couldn’t do any research or study,” he said.
The revolution started on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Others like Youtube and Skype were also instrumental in rallying revolution supporters. “It’s a revolution 2.0. It’s a new version of revolution,” Binal said. And it’s now happening in other countries across the Middle East.
Social media are rallying protesters in countries like Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain. They're providing a platform for citizens to become journalists, posting video, images and ideas for the world to see.
But as powerful as social media may be, it was seemingly easy for the Egyptian government to shut down. Egypt adopted the Internet relatively late and as a result there are only a few Web access points in the country. After the government ordered the shut down of the four primary internet providers, the web went dark instantly.
When service was finally restored, Balbaa and Binal were able to contact their families and friends. “My mom called me. She was like, ‘Are you ok?’ I kept talking to her for like half an hour to make sure she was fine,” Balbaa said.
This summer, Balbaa will return to Egypt. “People are telling me it’s different right now. I mean, their mentality has changed. So I’m looking forward to seeing that, to be honest…and helping to rebuild the country,” he said. But for now, he’ll communicate with his family and friends using social media.