Yosr Chaouch shares her opinion on the development of her home country, and recounts how her more ‘rebellious’ year, a time of political and social revolution, was one of the best phases of her life. She stresses the importance of taking opportunities as they come, as well as her wish to see the LGBTQ community living more freely in Tunisia. This story was recorded with the 2016 Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative students with Benedictine University and StoryCorps. This story was recorded in partnership with MALA and StoryCorps.
“I’m from Tunisia. I live in the southern suburbs of the capital and I love the southern suburbs. Like, my father grew up there. I grew up there. I love each part of the southern suburbs. I want to do a PhD in American Studies and I want to teach American history at my faculty, the one that I go to now. The difference probably how you guys are organized and probably are self-reliant and hard work. I felt like in 2011 when the Tunisian Revolution happened that this would change the mentality of the people.
We are improving actually and I’m very proud of my country and I’m very proud like I think we are on the right path now and hopefully we will progress through the years and hopefully like my generation and the next future generations will have a better life than the past generations. I like discovered a new me actually because like my friends and I, I was like in the second grade in high school and we were kind of rebellious. We were rebellious against everything. Like, it was really amazing. It was the craziest year of my life. We would do like stuff I wouldn’t even actually imagine myself would ever do. I was like usually the kind of student who just like go and like sit in front of the class and won’t do anything but like during that period because like because of the environment we were in like people were saying what they want to do and claiming their rights and stuff like that. So, we thought that we were rebellious and claiming our rights against our teachers, against everything. It was a really crazy year, and I loved that year like I definitely want to tell them to enjoy every single moment, to take advantage of every single chance that you get to have, to live your life fully, to do everything that goes up in your mind, just do it even though that you are afraid that what people will think about you or what you would think about the risks. Don’t think about the risks, just go for it, just live your life fully.
Unfortunately, in my country everything is changing for the best and we have freedom practically of everything but the LGBT community can’t live freely. There is an article in the Tunisian Law, Article 270, that states that if you are gay, lesbian, or transgender, or bisexual you can be in jailed for two years. So, if we are accepting all kind of differences and if we are going toward being a democratic country, we need to accept these people. It’s really bad what has happening now especially to the LGBT community like the religious group are probably not suffering much of the LGBT community but I want to see these people like really living freely and I don’t want to see people saying that if you defend them like you are part of them. Like, I usually defend them and people will say “you probably are a part of them.” Like really, if really defending these people makes a part of them then I’m part of them. We are tolerant. We are humans and we have to accept everyone.
No matter what religion they come from, not matter what race, no matter what language they speak, no matter what is their sexual orientation, we have to accept every single person.”