Friday, September 19, 2008

Cairo Sunrise

I'd never have imagined during my 7:30-10 PM Intro to Forced Migration and Refugee Studies class during which the fluorescent light seemed to be boring into my soul and amplifying my rooster-induced fatigue that I would not get to bed until the following morning at 6 AM. However, receiving a couple of different invitations that later, happily congealed into one, I ended up at a rooftop bar in Doqqi with some friends from class as well as some friends of my TA. Things winding down there, but all of us still thoroughly enjoying the good conversation and laughter of the evening, we headed back downtown to Odeon which was packed with expats and Egyptians alike. By the time the sun came up, I'd interacted with Americans, Egyptians, Canadians, a Burdundian, an Italian, a Swiss guy, a Dutch classmate, a Slovakian, a German, an Austrian, a half-Brazilian-half-Egyptian, a Brit, and Heaven knows what else. The fascinating conversations I get to have with people from around the world are worth my being here in and of themselves.
While it may have been evident in earlier blogs when I hadn't gotten into the swing of things that I was a bit lonely in Cairo, I was suprised at how many people I knew and chanced to bump into (the expat community is rather tight-knit). I was getting phone numbers, invites to upcoming cultural events, and assorted shindigs left and right. Now to remember to balance my new-found social life with hitting the books. I plan to do so quite heavily between now and when I head to Zamalek to meet Hany, the found of Better World.
I know I previously mentioned it, but I found it telling that both of the founders of the NGOs through which I'm teaching English were former Rotary Scholars. Rotary has a knack for choosing driven and innovative young folks to represent them around the world. I only hope I'm up to the task as well! Tonight, also in Zamalek, I have a Rotary fundraiser to attend, as I mentioned previously. I'll report back on how that goes either tonight if I return home at a reasonable hour or tomorrow morning.

On a slightly less pleasant note, I heard this morning on the news that in swing states, there are DVDs of the documentary movie "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West". I hope to God that those of you reading this from central Illinois aren't finding these in copies of the Journal Star. This movie has more to do with scaring voters into voting on security issues than about informing them about the threats of extremism. These threats are very real, I won't deny that, but they should be addressed rationally and without villyfing Islam. It is precisely efforts like these that aim to "inform" the American people that foster distrust between us and the Islamic world. This distrust can ferment into something far more nefarious, which is why I am so thankful that Rotary and other organizations have programs to promote international and cross-cultural understanding. If any of you has questions about Islam or the way it's practiced where I'm living, please email me. If I can't answer your question, I'll find someone who can.

News of and Information on Egypt:
A fantastic description of Cairo and its attractions by British newspaper, The Times
Russo-Egyptian relations becoming firmer?
The story of a Rotarian who traveled to Cairo and his commitment to the fight against Polio
Egypt to be a guest at the next G8 Summit

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