Rashid Chico Kosber

Her Campus got the opportunity to interview, Rashid “Chico” Kosber, one of the new freshman senators for the school year 2013-2014.  This is your chance to learn about one of the dedicated members of the student senate committed to bettering life here at Amherst.  Chico answered a few questions about his country, his schooling, his activist work and more!


HC: Where are you from?

Chico: I am from Cairo, Egypt.


HC:  How long was your flight to Amherst?

Chico: Coming here was an eighteen hours flight, connected in France for an hour stop. 


HC: Have you traveled this far before?

Chico: Yes, South Korea which is about fourteen hours away.


HC:  If I may ask, what is your ethnicity?

Chico: Yes, I'm actually half Korean. My mother is Korean and my father is mixed. My grandfather is Egyptian-Turkish, and my grandmother is Palestinian Lebanese.


HC: What languages do you speak?

Chico: I speak English and Arabic. I can read and write in both languages and I can sort of read  Korean.

HC: What is the temperature like back home?

Chico: It's usually around ninety-eight degrees Fahrenheit and the coldest is 41 degrees Fahrenheit;


HC: So, have you see snow before?

Chico:   No I haven't! I am excited.


HC: What do you enjoy to do?

Chico: I love dogs. I have a dog at home and I really miss my dog, Coco.


HC: What causes were you involved in?

 Chico: The Government of Childhood and Motherhood which was recently demoted  to a council. I worked with things like child trafficking, organ trafficking, female genital mutilation and female circumcision.  We got to see the numbers, how it happens and the culture effects and why it's so hard to eradicate it. We went to a village that was dealing with issues of female circumcision and how it happens across the Egyptian population. Ninety-five percent of females undergo female circumcision, regardless of race or religion.  It is an African tradition, not strictly Christian or Muslim.  It's illegal therefore you cannot perform the procedure in a hospital.  This is a problem because there was a very famous case about a girl name Bodour, I even did a research paper about it.  She was twelve and ended up bleeding out and dying.

They picked a few of us and we had to learn a bunch of statistics. We ended up being observers at the Egyptian delegations and the convention of the rights to a child in Geneva.  We got to watch the child experts ask questions and see the different regulations and standards you need to do before you can be ratify any law.  As observers we were not allowed to speak in front of the entire debate but we had a chance to present unofficially. We were not allowed to speak in official capacity, we weren't even eighteen! We were kids.


HC: Was it a nerve wrecking experience?

Nervewrecking, no. It was interesting, we had to focus on key issues--like child labor and child trafficking, those were my two main issues. It was a semi-debate.  The experience was interesting because I had something to say.  

HC: Would you want to become a full-time activist?

Chico:  As a main thing no, because of financial security.  I do have a younger sister that I need to support since my parents will retire soon, but I will definitely continue to be active.  You don't have to follow a set career path to be active or to speak for child rights or speak out against child trafficking or speak out against organ trafficking. 


HC: Do you know what you would like to major in or study?

Chico: I want to do medicine.

HC:  Do you know what kind of medicine, yet?

Chico: Not yet, but I know it won't be neuroscience.

HC: Where did you go to school?

Chico: I want to an international school of Choueifat. It started in Lebanon about 120 years ago.  It's an international school so it combines the British, American and Canadian education systems. I took SATs, IGCSEs (O-levels) and APs. The UK system is very different. You pick your courses. You know what you will take for the next four years. I didn't really like that. I prefer the US system over the UK system.  There are good and bad things in both systems, but I prefer the American system because you try what works and what doesn't work.  Amherst is perfect because I can explore and take what interests me as well as the requirements for my major.


HC: Previous school experience vs. Amherst? 

Chico: There was no school government, there was no activities. I needed to go outside of school like with the government and the UN because the school didn't offer me anything besides academics. It made me more independent because it forced me to look for things that take you out of your environment. It's a blessing in disguise.


HC: How did you hear about Amherst?

 Chico: Surprising thing, I applied to a bunch of different colleges.  I applied to school in the Netherlands and the UK. I mainly applied to schools on the northeast to be near my older brother who teaches at Harvard. My mom told me to include Amherst College. It wasn't in my head to apply here  but I did apply anyway. I am really happy I applied and got accepted.  It is really a gem compared to everything—the faculty, the classes—it's really nice. 



HC: What has influenced you to stay at Amherst?

Chico:  The values my family instilled in me, like ambition.  If you're going to do something, either do it all the way or don't do it all. So I'm here to study hard but it's also supposed to be the four best years of your life. Study hard and have fun.


HC: Are you in any clubs besides Senate?

Chico: I am the treasurer-in-training for Amherst College Entrepreneurship Society (ACES), working with GlobeMed, public health collaborative, and Korean Student Association


HC: How is Amherst different from your home country?

Chico: Very different! For one, there are traffic lights and lanes and zebra crossings.  The people dress differently from the people in Amherst than Cairo. Girls can wear jeans and t-shirts but avoid anything too revealing. Sexual harassment is a huge problem in Cairo but you can live in a bubble and avoid most of the problems.  You always have to think about how you dress.

HC: Do you intend to stay in America after graduating from Amherst?

Chico: Depends on where I attend medical school but there is a high possibility I would stay here. If not the states maybe Australia or South Korea.


HC: What do you miss about home?

Chico:  I always miss the people not the place.  I miss my dog, my little sister—she's the person I miss the most—,my parents of course.


HC: Do you miss the food?

Chico:  Of course! I get to eat a mixture of Palestinian, Arabic, Korean and Indian food. Every day would be a different thing.  I'm really craving an Arabic dish called maftool or maghrebeya, depending on your dialect. It's sort of like couscous but it's a bigger dough ball with meat and onion broth with hummus and chickpeas and everything is slow cooked. Unfortunately, I don't know how to make it, but it's so good.  I also miss galbi, which is like Korean spare ribs and they are marinated beforehand so it's really good.


HC: What do you hope to get from Amherst?

Chico:  I hope to get a lot out of it.  I want to see how much I will grow because I've always struggled against my environment. I always needed to go after the things I wanted and fight for them. Here it's so much easier, it leaves you so much time to be creativity.  When you're in an environment when you need to fight for something, you can be creative but of course its easier if you're environment is open.  In terms of education, I was very with the English system education because it was too focus on one thing.  Knowledge for exams not knowledge for yourself.


HC: Anything else you would like to add?

Chico:  I always advocate for Seeds of Peace. A conflict resolution camp where teens from Palestinian, India and Pakistan will talk things through dialogue, just trying to hear the other side.  Nothing may happen through the dialogue, but just hearing it makes a huge change. I also advocate for equality for education.  If you fix education, everything else will be fixed. But that will take generations to fix, so it's best to start early.