My name is…Mahmoud ‘Max’ Elbeh

Amazed by the colors of Colorado


Running the distance — in Egypt

I live in Cairo — I’m an hour-and-a-half away from the Pyramids of Giza. I’m in a program called the YES Program. This (is an exchange) program between the U.S. State Department and countries that have a majority of Muslim population. I applied to the program in 2014, but I didn’t make it. Every year, there are 2,500 applicants, and they pick only 50. I applied again in 2015, and I made it.

I went to Mountain Range High School (in Westminster). I go home (Egypt) in two weeks. After finishing high school in Egypt, I’ll either stay and go to college there, or I’ll come back to Colorado for college. I want to go to UCCS or CSU. I want to be a college athlete.

I just feel myself when I’m running. When I’m in a bad mood, I go for a run, my mood totally changes. The competitive life of running is really enjoyable. It teaches you to have a goal.

High school sports are a big thing here. It’s only soccer in Egypt. No one cares at all about track, basketball or any of these sports. Our Front Range league is so competitive in track; I was surprised by how fast I would need to be to make it to the state meet. I was in Egypt, like, a good runner, and I thought, “I’m going to come here and be a good runner, too.” But compared to the American runners, no.

Missing Egypt

I miss the food (in Egypt) and my family. My family is pretty small. It’s only me, my mother, father and sister. My sister is 12 years old; I miss her so much. Kushari is a dish I miss. It’s basically made out of lentils, macaroni, rice, tomato sauce and onions.

I try to cook it here. My (host) family liked it, but I told them, “Guys, that’s horrible, you haven’t eaten Kushari.” I’m surprised they liked it. It was bad.

Colorful Colorado

I like the four seasons here. I never saw that many colors in my life as in the fall. All the trees were colorful — it was beautiful. And when it snows and the snow melts — but it didn’t melt yet on the mountains.

Some things you may not know about Egypt

There is a White Desert and a Black Desert. The Red Sea is beautiful. There is an island in the Rea Sea that is well-known for having hammerhead sharks. They don’t hurt you unless you try to touch or feed them or stare at their eyes. We speak Egyptian-Arabic, which is the slang of Arabic. It’s basically Arabic with wrong grammar rules.