Sunday, September 13, 2009
So we’ve been studying. This is a good thing, I think. What doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger, right? The majority of our classes will be taught by Dr. Heather, who is the program director this semester. She is filling in for Dr. Holt who just got married and is spending this semester in the states with his wife’s family. She is wonderful, but we’ve decided she would be really scary if she ever got angry at you. The interns – or program assistants if you want to be official about it – are Jon and Dena, and they are pretty fantastic. Seriously, I want to be Dena when I grow up. She takes care of so many details and is so capable at pretty much everything, but she never makes us feel ridiculous when we’re so obviously incapable at so many things here in Cairo. Also, she’s really sweet and hilarious. Jon’s pretty cool too - he’s really good at making people feel comfortable and keeping everyone included in the group and all that. We like to call him Papa Jon. The other staff member is Dr. Diaa who takes care of everything for us from train tickets to dispensing medicine. So that’s the staff. Like I said, Dr. Heather teaches, but we’re going to have a lot of guest lecturers too. We had an Egyptian sociology professor come talk to us last week about poverty and gender issues in Egypt, and today the founder of Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights talked to us about human rights in Egypt. We also have Dr. Chahinda for our Islamic Thought and Practice class. We’ve only met for that class once – and that was in a mosque. We did a tour of some of the oldest/coolest mosques in Cairo with Dr. Chahinda and even got to go up the minaret on one. The view was fantastic! Anyway, these classes will obviously pretty ridiculous – we’re going to dig through some really hard stuff and I’m a little scared. Already I’ve come up against a deep rooted hatred for the US, which I knew existed and to a certain extent can understand but is hard to deal with anyway. Seriously the stuff we’re reading is blowing my mind a little. But that’s ok, I’m sure it’ll be good for me eventually. Our other class is, of course, Arabic. My Arabic teacher is ridiculous and likes to tell random stories. She’s also teaching us songs in Arabic – and the Lord’s Prayer. It’s good stuff. J So, yeah, just thought I’d let you know what I’m doing with my brain this semester.