“I also learned that freedom and equity and justice are VERY expensive. It takes trillions of dollars to launch wars and millions of dollars to pay bribes and corrupt people. So you’re not going to change the world by just having a good conscience. You have to understand that there is a price to pay, and there is a high cost. And in my case, although I love everything that I do and everything that I did, I did pay a very dear cost personally and professionally. I was defamed by the news in Egypt, my home country. I was separated from my kids for nine years. I lost my parents when I was in exile. It has been challenging and I'm still being chased and followed by regimes who do not like to be exposed. But in order to change the world, you do not have to make all those sacrifices. You don't even have to be in politics in order to challenge injustice, racism, discrimination, inequality. You can do and be anywhere and do anything. You can be a scientist, a basketball player, a doctor, a gamer. Whatever you do, don’t be a minion. Be an active participant in making change.”
“Expand your network. Try to find allies rather than finding enemies.There is a saying that I think has been so correct and right in my whole life: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ Something that is very important to realize is that you have power, that you can challenge these systems and ideas.”
“My photo behind bars that was on the first page of many newspapers was not a message for me. It was a message to the people saying, ‘if you end up going into that route of fighting for human rights and defying the system, this is where you are going to end up. This is where you’re going to be.’ And that was when I realized that we needed to flip the narrative and redefine the story. But even though I got a lot of praise for doing that, this is not the narrative I wanted to promote. I wanted to say a different story, that if you follow the principles, fight injustice, racism, sexism, and all this, you’re not going to end up there… the good people are not always the people who are defeated. There are good allies everywhere. And there are people who stand by you everywhere.”
We are so grateful to Dr. Okail for taking the time to share her story and inspire our Middle School students and faculty with her messages of hope and resilience.