Free Trip to Egypt: An Experiment in Transformation

How would you respond if an Arab stranger offered you a free trip to Egypt? That's exactly what a social entrepreneur has done in a heart-changing experiment.

Many Americans remain jittery about the possibility of terrorism in our post-9/11 world. Anti-Muslim sentiment often accompanies this. I recently came across an interesting way of changing hearts and minds in this regard with the film Free Trip to Egypt. Here's the synopsis:

"Seeking to build a bridge of mutual understanding and friendship, FREE TRIP TO EGYPT follows the journey of Tarek Mounib (a Canadian-Egyptian Muslim) who decides to reach out to the very people who fear him. He travels across the U.S. to find Americans concerned about an Islamic threat and makes them an intriguing offer: A Free Trip to Egypt.The initial reactions range from disbelief to hostility, but eventually a diverse group from various backgrounds is selected and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

"Soon enough, the travelers arrive in Egypt where the Americans are paired with local Egyptians just as diverse as they are. The result is provocative, surprising, funny, emotional, revealing, enlightening and ultimately life-changing — in other words, all things human — in this profoundly original and inspirational feature-length documentary."

You can watch the trailer here for a preview of what unfolds. This film captured my attention for two reasons. First, it brings people together across a religious and cultural divide. Studies show that people who know Muslims tend to have a more positive view of them. Psychologists call this the "contact hypothesis,"and doing this strategically, changing behaviors toward others then transforms our perceptions and emotions about others. Second, some of those who made the trip in this film are Christians. You can see their fears and attitudes toward Muslims in the film. I am hoping that hearts and minds change as a result of their experiences in Egypt.

This film is playing in select theaters across the United States through Fathom Events on June 12. I will be watching in Ogden, Utah and serving as a host to greet others. You can learn more about the film at the Free Trip to Egypt website, and purchase tickets at a theater near you.

John Morehead