A group of young people in Cairo asked us to take this question to people on the streets of DC: “Do you think America is the best place to come to make a better life?”
Here’s what people said:
We really appreciated the range of responses we got to our question. Americans are proud of their country, but they are also critical. Of course, we didn’t agree with everything people said. But in editing the video, we tried to include responses that were representative of the range that we got. We also tried to organize the responses into a bit of a narrative, so that one person’s response could comment on or build upon another person’s response.
Overall, filming and making the video was an incredibly informative and fun experience, an opportunity not only to hear people’s opinions but also to shoot on the streets and engage with the community. VIrtual Dinner Guest is an international project, but it has local impact as well. Many of the people we interviewed were excited to participate. Some asked us to write down the VIrtual Dinner Guest website so they could look it up.
One of my favorite responses came from a young woman who said that America has “cool people that walk up to you and say, ‘Hey, can I interview you?'” While she was partially joking, she was also making a good point – free press and free speech make man-on-the-street interview projects like Virtual Dinner Guest possible. When we spoke with our Egyptian colleagues over our second meal, they mentioned that they were sometimes asked by police to stop filming, and that many people they invited to participate in the project were suspicious of their motives. This contrast really struck me, and made me more appreciative of the freedoms we have here.
For our part, we asked the Cairo group to take on this question: “What advice would you give to the next generation of Egyptians?” Check out their video response and read about our reactions here.
These videos were made possible thanks to Eric Maddox and the Virtual Dinner Guest Project, “a movement aimed at creating a global cultural shift in the way people view their relationship to news media” and interpret the information around them. Check out some of these other VDGP videos:
- Little Rock, AR to Cairo: What makes Egyptians most proud of their culture?
- Cairo to Little Rock, AR: What would it take for the American people to revolt?
- Asheville, NC to Cairo: If you had the attention of everyone in America, just for a moment, what would you tell them?
- Cairo to Asheville, NC: If you had the attention of everyone in Egypt, just for a moment, what would you tell them?