Mohammad Moussa and Sameer Abdel-Khalek

Students of the Revolution

They stood with thousands in Tahrir Square as a resurgence of the revolution swept through Cairo, wept with grieving parents who lost children to police bullets and accepted gifts of food from former political prisoners staging a hunger strike in Tunisia.

Throughout a summer odyssey that took them inside the democratic movements convulsing the Middle East, they tried to make sense of it all.

Now back in the safety and routine of campus life, NC State students Mohammad Moussa and Sameer Abdel-Khalek are reflecting on their life-changing journey. The two traveled to Cairo in June with poets Kane Smego and Will McInerney for a multimedia project called Poetic Portraits of a Revolution.

For two months, the team traveled throughout Egypt and Tunisia, meeting the ordinary people who toppled two dictators and collecting their stories through photographs, video and audio. Along the way, the students braved tear gas, dodged rubber bullets and barely escaped arrest as spies. Despite the danger, they gave voice to a revolution and created what could become a new form of journalism.

Poetic Portraits of a Revolution, sponsored by the Academy Award–winning organization Empowerment Project, will consist of a documentary film, a photo installation and a theatrical production. The team is also working with Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill to publish a book about their experiences.