Our talented alumna Dina Elabd’08 participated in this years Book Fair at CAC. Dina excitingly read to our students her latest story book “The Magic Palm” and later gave us a one on one interview to learn about what she has been up to since graduating from CAC.
Tell us about yourself briefly?
“I’m a children’s author and critic. I hold a BA in Mechanical Engineering from the American University in Cairo and a MPhil in Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature under the Faculty of Education at Cambridge University.
I’ve worked extensively in writing and publishing, founded the children’s magazine, Kaleidoscope and contributed to the children’s literature journal, Rowayat Gemeza. I’m also a board member in The Egyptian Board on Books for Young People (EBBY). I’ve published short stories, poetry, and prose in books and magazines around the world. You can find some of my stories on Amazon (click here). As a scholar in the field of children’s literature, I presented my thesis at Cambridge’s annual Kaleidoscope conference, presented at the IRSCL 2015, Worchester, and attended the IBBY 2016, Auckland”.
Where did you grow up and how long were you at CAC?
“I grew up in Sunnyvale, California in the USA. I moved to Egypt at the age of 12 and immediately attended CAC from grade 7. I graduated a senior grade 12”.
What do you do now for work?
“Now, I work as a Research Analyst at the World Bank Cairo Office, mainly on Transport Projects that I supervise, manage, or analyze. Also, I actively work on writing and promoting my children's books”.
How did your passion for writing grow? And what made you interested in learning literature?
“I first remember writing creatively when I moved to CAC. It is an outlet I was lucky to love, as it helped me become very fluent in my thoughts and feelings. When I went to university, my creative writing professor off-handedly recommended I write for children. It was a light bulb moment. Everything clicked. I knew that was what I was meant to do. Later, I started my own children's magazine, and was accepted to a Children's Literature program at Cambridge on full scholarship”.
Where do you get your inspiration from? And tell us more about your achievements in writing?
“My inspiration comes from emotion. Whenever I feel like I have a lot of emotions about something, I know there is something interesting to explore there. That can be a difficult decision or situation I'd found myself in, or a happy one! The reason behind emotion, I find, often makes for a great story.
I am very lucky to have had a great many achievements in writing. I worked on our school's literary publication Papyrus, founded a writing club at AUC called Writers Show The World Their Nation (WSTWN), won different writing competitions in Egypt and England, had my work reviewed by famous authors such as Kashuo Ishiguro, attended and presented at many education and literature conferences, published 7 editions of my children's magazine Kaleidoscope in which I wrote the Farah and Fares series, published my own 3 children's books, visited many schools to promote and read my books, and was a technical lead for a huge program in Jordan where we published 20 Arabic picture books in a year”.
What is your next step/ career goal?
“I hope to continue writing my next book in the Melouq series and publish it this year. Also, I hope to continue attending literature conferences for greater exposure.
Tell us more about your experience at CAC?
CAC was a dream. It was my safe haven after moving to Egypt. I met my still best friends there. Everyone was very multi-cultural, a trait I really admire. CAC helped expose me to many more cultures and experiences in a safe way. I am so happy I had the opportunity to study there”.
What kind of activities were you preferring at school? And what did you love the most about the school?
“I took full advantage of CAC's activities! I played basketball, was Student Council President, MUN Security Council President, a Speech and Debate winner, and wrote for the Papyrus. Oh, and I was also part of the make up crew for all the theater performances - a great way to get free tickets!”
Tell us a good memory or something you miss about the school days?
“Spirit Week was always so much fun. And Week Without Walls. Even attending my friends’ Art Shows. I loved how there was always something fun happening at school. A good memory I have was my after prom. The PTO had set up everything for us at some villa in Maadi; there was food and games and prizes. I loved spending all night celebrating with my friends. Of course, graduation was incredible, too. Just walking up to the Pyramids. I feel very lucky to have gone to CAC”.