Ibrahim Sisters Arrive In The U.S.

Left to Right: Dalia and Yasmeen by the Lobrano Pool. Photo Credit: Howard
Left to Right: Dalia and Yasmeen by the Lobrano Pool. Photo Credit: Howard

6,376 miles from the sand-stormed city of Cairo, Dalia (‘23) and Yasmeen Ibrahim (‘22) found their new home in Jacksonville 4 months ago.

Dalia and Yasmeen Ibrahim have lived quite the unconventional life. Born in Houston, Texas, the two sisters come from a Catholic Mexican American mother and a Muslim Egyptian born father.  

When they were young, the girls and their parents moved from Houston, Texas to Cairo, Egypt. The dark haired Dalia and Yasmeen went to an American school where they were surrounded by many different cultures.

“I grew up in an American school, so all my friends were from all around the world. I grew up around many different languages and cultures.” Yasmeen recalled.

For the Ibrahim sisters, culture characterizes their lives.
“Culture defines you. I need to know a culture and tradition to respect it and follow it.” Dalia explained.

For many people, culture is your identity. It’s how you define yourself. Like waking up in the morning and putting on your great grandmother’s necklace.

Yasmeen believes she is her culture, “my identity comes with a little bit of everything I am surrounded with. So, when I use the word culture, I guess I just interchange that with identity.”

Growing up in Egypt, a republican Government with an ever-changing constitution and censorship, Yasmeen and Dalia have come to understand what it is like to live in a military controlled country. 

After spending ten years of their early lives in Cairo, the Ibrahim’s moved to Jacksonville, Florida for the swim program here at Bolles.

Yasmeen described the move, “It was definitely a transition. There is a culture shock. I used to spend my summers here (in the States) and now knowing this is my home for the next few years it’s interesting to see how I adapt. Being a kid from many different cultures and having many different cultures around you allows you to adapt very easily. It hasn’t been too much. It’s very different from Cairo. It’s a good and strange thing. America is definitely a place that’s contrasting with Egypt so it’s cool to live and see in both sides.”

Dalia contributes the swim team as the main reason she was able to adapt so well to the new environment, “The swim team helped a lot. If I didn’t swim and I came here, I don’t think I would have survived.”

Like many other people, religion has played a big role in Dalia and Yasmeen’s life. Being Muslim in a nonMuslim country can be tough when it comes time for holidays such as Ramadan or Eid.

“Obviously it’s harder to be a Muslim in a nonMuslim country, because it’s part of the country’s identity as a Muslim country. Praying is more common, fasting is an event that you can share with friends. Being more solo in religion is harder here. I’ve yet to find a Muslim community.” Yasmeen described.

However, the girls do not let religion define them. Dalia feels that “being Muslim in the media is misinterpreted but I think at Bolles it’s bias free. I wasn’t really worried about religion. I was worried about trying to fit in, as a person.”

To Dalia and Yasmeen, home is where their family lives. Whether that is in the ancient city of Cairo, the bright streetlights of Houston, or the pools of Jacksonville, the girls adapt and learn wherever they go.