17 March, 2010

"Remember What the Dormouse Said..."

Ah today! It's been a really good day. Too bad that today I've decided to be a bad American and get lunch from the Hardee's. I usually try to stay away from American chains when I'm abroad, but today I really wanted a milkshake. Oh, well. Guess, I'll just be a touristy American today. 

Anyway, it's been an interesting couple of days here in Cairo if I do say so myself. Not that classes and my internship are anything out of the ordinary, but the field trips and other stuff I have been up to are what make these last few days rather interesting. 

But, before I get ahead of myself. Here are some of the pictures I promised to post before. Sadly, the ones taken on Sylvia will not be posted until I can get a firewire...which will hopefully be soon. But, in the meantime, Benjamin did a great job on his first time out.
Yasmina and Lindley work on making the Besboosa for desert during cooking. 
 The dinner table all set and ready for people to eat. 
So, let's begin with Monday I guess, as Sunday wasn't anything unusual at all. Monday, however, felt like one of the longest days ever. It started with my colloquial Arabic class, where out of the seven of us that normally attend, only four actually showed up. I don't know where the others were, but they weren't there and it kind of made class somewhat nice because we were able speak without too much confusion. We were also a small enough class that Engie was able to take us out of the classroom to practice our Arabic on the street. 

We walked around and described the people that we saw, mainly what they were wearing as that was the new vocabulary we had just learned. We were also going to go to the supermarket to discuss the names of different foods, however, once again we had gotten such a late start on the field trip that I never actually made it to the supermarket. I had class and thus had to turn around shortly after we started making the trek. 

After my Introduction to Ancient Egypt class, where we have finally made it to Dynasty 12 and are starting the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, we packed our things and headed on our field trip to Cairo University. We had been invited by the administration to come and see the campus. So, we did just that. We piled into three taxis and headed on over. 

The sight of the university surprised me when we first got there. It's not that I hadn't seen Cairo University before because I have in passing and it looks pretty similar to an American university anyway. No, what surprised me was the riot police that had circled themselves around a group of students who were chanting, holding signs, singing and very obviously protesting something. We later found out that they were protesting for Palestinian freedom, a big issue in the Middle East. 

Cairo University looked like any other American style university that I've seen. And being on the tour with the administration brought me back to my days of college searching. You take a lot of pictures and observe the student body in their most natural habitats. 

We started the tour with a look at the main theater where President Obama gave his speech when he came to the Middle East. You'd be very surprised by the positive attention I receive when I say that I'm American due to President Obama. They just love him here. It's surprising especially because I really thought I'd receive a lot more negative attention as an American than I have. 

So, after we left the theater, which was absolutely gorgeous. We went out and saw the international cultural festival that was happening. It was interesting to see. The only "western" country to be represented was Germany. All of the other countries were from the Middle East, or Asia and some from Africa. But, nothing representing the Americas or Europe. We (AMIDEAST, that is) hopes to fix this next year by having them represent the United States. 

After leaving the festival, we went into the library to take a look at the really nice museum of Cairo University and then up to the culturama, which was nine projectors hooked together and projecting simultaneously. It was rather awesome. One of the kids in my program, Will, decided that he needed to know how the mouse/controller worked and so that librarian let him play with it during the presentation...I took pictures of this as it was hysterical. 
 The "famous" dome at Cairo University. 
The cultural festival taking place at Cairo University. 
Will playing with the culturama at the Cairo University library. 
And that was pretty much the end of the field trip. We returned to AMIDEAST, where Will and I were a tad bit late for class. Oh well, it turned out to be a double session anyway. 

Luckily, Dr. Nicole let us out a little early and I was able to grab some food with Moose and Tyler at Le Tabasco, a little restaurant we found down the street, before my last class at 6. 

IR was interesting to say the least. I mean, Monday's lecture discussed the nuclear race going on in Iran and Israel as well as Weapons of Mass Destruction in general. This is a topic I didn't know a whole lot about, but basically the idea of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) is just one that makes everyone pretty uncomfortable and is extremely, so I won't bore you all with getting into the politics behind it all. 

When I got home from class, I pretty much just crashed. I worked on applying for some summer internships for when I get back to DC and I talked with Manya online for a bit. 

Tuesday rolled around and I went to my internship in the morning and then I headed to class in the evening. After class, Dr. Magda had decided last week that she was taking Will and myself out for tea and cake. So, after class we hopped into her car and we were off to a really fancy cake shop that she wanted to take us to. When we arrived, she insisted that we get anything we wanted and that we weren't allowed to pay for any of it. She's so nice! I ended up getting a piece of black forest cake with white hot chocolate. I was on such a sugar overload. It was amazing though. 

After the cake, we walked along the avenue and looked at the shop windows as we were in Mohandessin, which is an area I'd never been to before. It's a really nice area and I definitely think I will be going back there at some point. 

She took us home after a while and on my way home I stopped for some koshary, so that I could actually eat something that wasn't sugar and pure chocolate. But, I didn't even get a chance to eat it before Moose called me and asked if I wanted to see Alice in Wonderland. Of course I couldn't refuse this, so I packed my koshary up in a bag and went out to City Stars with Claudine, Sean, Moose and on our Egyptian friends (I can't remember his name though. I think it's Islam...but, I could be wrong...). 

The movie experience was just that an experience. Similar to the Czech movie experience, they assign you a seat when you buy your ticket, which just makes getting into the theater that much easier later. The snacks are also relatively inexpensive, as opposed to those in the American movie theater. The one really weird part of the experience was that as the movie made a turn into Act II, they randomly shut the movie off for a five minute intermission. It wasn't even a planned interval, just a random moment. 

Overall, I think the movie Alice in Wonderland was really good. It wasn't earth shattering, but it was good and I am satisfied that the adaptation didn't royally screw up one of my all time favorite stories. I recommend going to see it, though it isn't one that I'd be telling you to drop everything to go see. 

I came back from the movie and pretty much crashed until this morning. Today was rather interesting. Classes were normal, but I had my first opportunity to "teach" my Egyptian students today. You see, while I'm here in Egypt in addition to my classes and the internship that I'm working at, I'm also volunteering an hour a week to the Access Program sponsored by AMIDEAST, where I am working to teach Egyptian students, who hope to one day study abroad in the United States, about American culture. They are such a great group and I actually really enjoy teaching them. Which is odd as I usually don't enjoy teaching, but I guess that's because most students I have taught never really wanted to learn. 

After my teaching class, we had a dialogue session with the Egyptian students where we discussed politics in the Middle East and the US foreign policy toward the Middle East. I'm honestly not a fan of this conversation topic as I don't really like bringing politics up. I did realize though, when one of the girls in my dialogue group began discussing her views on women's rights that I may in-fact be a "feminist". I really hate that term, but after hearing what she had to say, I was rather angry at some of the things she was saying. It was frustrating. But, this is a story for another day. 

And that, my readers, is this week. Today was my last day of classes for the week and tomorrow afternoon, I will be packing myself into a bus and will be off to the Black and White desert for some camping. We were originally going to Fayouim, but the cultural festival was canceled and so instead we are off to the desert. It should be lots of fun! So, keep watching for the fun there.

1 comment:

  1. You know, people are allowed to have differing opinions on things. She's from a completely different place than you are, so I'm sure she has different views on the role of women. I don't know if that makes you a feminist in reaction, though. I'd try to stay away from taking up a cause just because someone says something that's extreme on the opposite side.