Blog & Opinion
29 August 2017 • by Fady Mikhail
Allow me to introduce myself: Fady Mikhail
Over the coming year, I will be taking you with me on my adventures as a student, a volunteer for the City of The Hague, a Copt and someone who grew up between two cultures. But I’m dedicating this first blog to telling you a little about myself.
I was born in a hospital in Cairo on Sunday, 5 February 1995. Fortunately, there were no complications associated with my birth. On Thursday, 25 September 1997, I was joined by my brother, Peter. We were both raised in Cairo. At that time, my mother taught French and my father worked at an international pharmaceutical company. We were a happy family. My brother and I attended a French school: College Saint Paul. I can still remember that I had to wear a uniform to school. In the morning, all the pupils in each class had to line up and then we sang the Egyptian national anthem. Every morning.
On Sunday, 18 June 2000, my father was ordained as a priest in the Orthodox Coptic Church that we attended. Becoming a priest doesn’t happen overnight. To become a priest, you have to be selected by the congregation as well as by other church officials. (I’ll tell you more about this in another blog.) This meant that my father quit his job at the pharmaceutical company and became a full-time priest in the church. At that time, I was five and my brother was almost three. I don’t really remember much about that day, but what I did know was that this was taking our family in a new direction.
At the end of 2002, our family moved to the Netherlands. I was then seven and my brother was five. We were pretty young for such a big move. But we weren’t refugees. My father had been sent to The Hague to serve its Coptic congregation. Did you know that there’s an Orthodox Coptic church in The Hague? We had to leave literally everything behind and start our lives back at square one. That was hard – really hard. The hardest thing was saying good-bye to my other family members and friends in Cairo. I had absolutely no idea of what I was in for. What kind of place would The Hague be? Would it be easy to learn the language? Would we feel at home there? And these were just a few of the questions whirling around in our heads. But we managed as a family to be open to things. My brother and I went to a primary school. I was placed in a group one year behind where I had been in Cairo because I didn’t speak any Dutch at all. I spent half of the day in a class for kids who were still learning Dutch. My parents also helped me learn Dutch. How? If you want to learn a new language, you have to read a lot. So that’s what I did; I spent a lot of time in the library. After that first year, I was in regular classes for the rest of my time in primary school.
In September 2008, I moved up from primary school to secondary school. What a difference! After going to a multicultural school, I was in a ‘white’ school in Voorburg. I started out in senior general secondary education/pre-university education but transferred to the second year of pre-university education the following year. I progressed my way through the pre-university education programme (Economics & Society subject cluster) without any problems. But things went wrong during my final examination year.
I took my first final exams in May 2014. I was really nervous. On 12 July I got a telephone call with bad news: I had failed my exams. So what did I do next? I tried again the next year, but I didn’t pass then either.
I talked with my student counsellor about all the options open to me because I definitely wanted a starting qualification. Ultimately, I decided on a fast-track course to become an assistant manager in international trade that was given at the ROC Midden Nederland, a regional training centre in Utrecht. It was a level 4 programme stuffed into just one year.
This was also the year (2015) that I became a Youth Ambassador for The Municipality of The Hague with my responsibilities being related to education. The youth ambassadors are a municipal advisory body committed to closing the gap between the municipal authorities and young people living in The Hague. I became a volunteer because I wanted to help others by contributing what I could do for society.
In February 2016, I became a youth spokesperson for UNICEF because I was getting such a kick out of being a volunteer for the city and wanted to do even more volunteering in The Hague. This was also the year that I received my senior secondary vocational education level 4 diploma. And I also enrolled in Finance and Control at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. I couldn’t have been any happier.
June 2017: so here I am sitting at my laptop typing out my first blog for H|Nieuws. Now that I’ve completed my foundation year, I’m still a volunteer for both UNICEF and the Municipality of The Hague. And starting in September, I’ll be on the General Council for the Faculty of Business, Finance & Marketing. I’m really looking forward to it.
Whew, time flies when you’re having fun. Take a moment and count your blessings.
My name is Fady Mikhail. Like to take a nice little peek into what my life is like? Nice to meet you.
I wish all students and lecturers a good academic year!