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Randy Marsh

Randy Marsh (far left) with American University –Cairo students and friends in Tahrir Square just days before President Hosni Mubarak stepped down.

Marsh, who graduated from SPEA in 2010 with a degree in civic leadership, grew up in a small Indiana town north of Evansville. As an undergrad, he interned with Exodus Refugee Immigration, which helps refugees find new lives in Indiana, and in the Indianapolis office of Senator Richard Lugar. He has traveled in Canada, London, Jamaica, and Belgium, but he chose to attend graduate school in Egypt because he plans to work for an international organization focusing on issues in the Middle East or Africa. Still, nothing prepared him for what he would experience in Cairo in the days leading up to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

In January, Marsh was working as an RA in the dorms when he began to hear about anti-Mubarak protests taking place all over Egypt. As the protests ebbed and flowed, Marsh worked to keep students informed and calm, especially when they were moved to another campus, classes were cancelled, and rumors were flying. After a couple of weeks, Marsh felt safe enough to venture into the middle of Tahrir Square, and reported in his blog From Cornfields to Deserts, “I went to Tahrir Square last night with friends to check it out and there were thousands of people...honestly...it felt like a state fair.” A few days later, he was back in Tahrir Square when news of Mubarak’s resignation was announced: “The crowd went nuts—dancing, cheering, screaming. It was the most electric feeling I had ever had and I wasn't even Egyptian.”

At this writing, Marsh’s life as a student has mostly returned to normal. But living through a revolution has been an important lesson. He said, “This is civil society; this is people demanding their voices be heard in government; this is democracy. This is what we learn about in school and so rarely see face-to-face.”