Student Story
03 February 2020

Student Finds a Leading Role outside the Classroom

Born and raised in Port Said, Egypt, Kareem Gerges is pursuing his Master in International Relations/Political Science. Previously, Kareem lived in Lebanon for five years, earning his bachelor’s degree at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and working on geopolitical research at the Carnegie Middle East Center. He has been actively pursuing non-academic activities, one in particular that he never thought he would do acting.

I came to Geneva for my studies, and somehow, I found myself also doing theatre! I expected academia to take up the lion’s share of my time, which it does. However, at the same time, I did not want academia or the Institute’s “bubble” to be the only centre of my life. I wanted to explore Geneva, participate in non-academic activities, learn about Switzerland’s history and culture, and meet locals (especially the francophones) to go beyond the “bubble” and, ultimately, expand my experience. Simply, I did not want to accept the myth, “Geneva is boring”.

One day in July 2019, I was surfing (a platform I highly recommend for anyone interested in engaging in activities with locals in a safe and fun environment) and I found a post by the Geneva English Drama Society (GEDS) announcing auditions for the play, Disgraced

The play – written by the American-Pakistani playwright Ayad Akhtar and winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – critically questions our prejudices and the very essence of identity in a heterogenous global culture, offering insights into complex and deeply fractious issues. It is a bold examiner of identity, culture and religion in the melting pot of a modern society.

Having never acted before, I had to make a fast yet difficult decision. If there was ever an opportunity to try something new, this was it. So, I went and auditioned.

Fast-forward a week later, I received a call from the play’s director, Charles Slovenski: I got a part! I would play Abe, the protagonist’s nephew.

Doing theatre has been an incredible experience that is difficult to put into words, from the auditions, rehearsals, and up to the premiere and the finale. I am quite grateful for the support I received from the talented cast, awesome director and from the tremendous efforts of GEDS.  

Often times we – students and academics – are so drawn into our fields that we begin to lose touch with other forms of expressing and communicating knowledge. That is why I encourage our community to step-out of our comfort zones and explore new mediums of exchange. 

Geneva is only boring if you are unaware of the many opportunities and events this special city offers. All you need to do is “seek, and you shall find”.

Photo credits: Elisabeth Zoe Everson
Photo credits: Elisabeth Zoe Everson
Photo credits: Elisabeth Zoe Everson
Photo credits: Elisabeth Zoe Everson