I arrived at Magdy and Mervet Mohammed’s house at 10 a.m. I enjoyed a quiet breakfast as Mervet moved around in the kitchen, preparing to begin cooking the noon meal. Sunlight shone into the living room from the open back door¬†that let in a faint breeze.

In the kitchen Mervet filled pans with water, chopped onions, etc. with the ease of years of practice. I watch curiously as she fries the onions in oil and spices, setting them aside. As she works she tells me about her mother teaching her to cook and about the international school she worked as a cook for in Egypt. She explains that food is a very important part of their culture.

When she finishes she piles rice, flavored noodes, beans, lentils and the fried onions onto a plate. She also hands me a bowl of tomato-based hot sauce to pour over the top. Yum! I’m glad it wasn’t any spicier than it was, though! I had to smile when they handed me a Mountain Dew to drink.

Mervet turns on some of her favorite Egyptian music and bobs her head along with the rhythm. I follow suit and we all laugh. Soon we’re having a full-out dance party in the privacy of her home–Muslim women only dance with other women or with their immediate family–to the catchy music. She tries to teach me the traditional dance moves. I fail miserably, but the laughter was worth it! After an impromptu fashion show with some of her favorite outfits, she shows me several family pictures. One is a black and white photo of a wide, dark-eyed little girl–Mervet as a child.

After many smiles and promising to return with a finished version of the project, I finally head out the door 4 hours later. They wave goodbye from their doorstep.


I’m a child of the digital age. I’m suppose to understand and like technology, not hate it. Alas, I fear the learning curve when it comes to video or audio programs is rather steep. How can loading a 30 minute video onto a computer take over two hours? Take an inexperienced user, add old equipment and segmented video and mix well…

Thankfully, I was able to pull a few audio clips from my interviews, so editing audio today for my podcast wasn’t as scary as it could have been. I actually feel I learned a lot today about the editing programs. I now know how to remove “fuzz” noise from audio, import and export audio in the appropriate formats, adjust levels for a specific portion of audio and how to render an mp3 file in Final Cut Pro (video editing program) so it will play without a terrifying beeping noise.

But probably the most important thing I learned today as I dealt with the technical side of visual and multimedia storytelling is that it takes a lot of time. As in, almost four hours in a lab for five minutes of finished audio, sort of time. No wonder full-length films take years.

Guess I’ll know if I ever decide to become the next Steven Spielburg. Block off ten years of your life, just in case.

This is it. It’s go time.

I manage to find their small duplex without any trouble. I knock on the door and wait with some anxiety. What will their reaction be? My fears are soon diminished as a beautiful woman in brightly-colored clothing opens the door and greets me with a smile and proffered hand. I make a quick trip back to my car to grap my equipment–I feel like a pack donkey–and then am ushered into the living room.

I’d heard of the hospitality so deep in the Middle-Eastern cultures, so I’m only a little pleasantly surprised when their older boy brings me a tray with tea, cake and some sort of fried dessert. Mohammed, 12, attends Eisenhower Middle School and speaks very good English. Thankfully! Their younger son, Ahmed, is 9.

Much to my frustration, I have some difficulty getting my equipment to work–or, at least, to work as I expect! There’s a strange buzzing noise coming from the microphone…that can’t be good. At least I hear sound. They are very polite, though, and wait with patient smiles.

We have a very nice chat–for two hours!–and I am able to get a good interview about their life and the challenges they face as a family only recently immigrated from Egypt.

I take a few pictures of their house, decorations, etc. As I begin taking photos of Mervet’s beautiful outfit and head scarf, she smiles and asks if she can change. Soon she comes back with an even more gorgeous outfit and matching head scarf in shades of purple and lavender. K-State colors! We have a great time with our impromptu fashion show–I guess girls like clothes in any society!

She walks me to the door, stands outside and waves as I leave.

I’m excited–next time she’s promised to allow me to film her making traditional Egyptian food. And then I get to eat it!

Thanks to the help of one of the Islamic Center directors, I finally found “my” family!¬† I was getting pretty concerned by last Thursday–I needed material by Monday and I was going to be gone all weekend–but thanks to my wonderfully compassionate and logistically amazing God, by Thursday night I had a time scheduled Friday afternoon to go on my first visit to my family!

I looked up the address they’d given me and had to smile. Ironically, they do live just next door–probably only a couple hundred yards up the hill from where I live. It’s amazing to think they’ve lived so close to me for about a year, but until now our seperate paths have never crossed.

As with any investigative piece, I believe this story will be one that begins with me thinking, I know they’re there, so where are they?

My biggest challenge will be finding the right family. I tried calling the Islamic Center, but only got the answering machine. I considered going by the Islamic Center today because their services are this evening, but after talking to Whitney about her experience and learning that men and women go in through different doors, I’m thinking just walking in and asking for someone may not be the best approach. I suppose time will tell.