Friday, February 20, 2009

Church, a House Party, and Research Ethics

Hours ago, I had all kinds of delightfully witty and insightful things to put in this entry. Unfortunately, I've filled the intervening time with reading about research ethics, writing a reaction paper, and trying to finesse the germ of what will eventually be my Master's thesis into something submittable to my Methods professor. It follows thus that my brain is mostly of a mushy consistency at this point. Nevertheless, I'll recap the recent goings-on:
I went to Ma'adi Community Church with a relative of my Egyptian friend, Maged's, and his American wife. My friend Phil came with me. It reminded me of many a community church back in the States, except that we were in the middle of a Cairo suburb, no doubt in some proximity to where Jesus Himself actually walked while He was in exile, and surrounded by the Egyptian police (as many churches in Egypt are, for the protection of those within). Graham Kendrick, author of the song "Shine, Jesus, Shine" is currently a guest of the church and led worship which was all fine and well except that the service turned out to be exclusively a worship service with no sermon. It was strange to take everything in–trying to reconcile what seemed and felt like a distinctly American phenomenon in the midst of Egypt which, despite its emulation (or in fact caricaturization) of American consumerism and its adoration of various of our pop stars, is a world apart. The lack of Egyptians was conspicuous and felt wrong somehow. There are other evangelical churches with services in Arabic, though, which have a preponderance of Egyptian attendees. They are by and large converts from the more liturgical and traditional Coptic churches; the fact that conversion to Christianity from Islam is punishable by death in this country is something of a deterrent for Muslims.
Afterward, Phil and I went to a party there in Ma'adi at the apartment of a Somali-Norwegian friend of his. Several other Norwegians, a Swede, some Americans including a girl from Puerto Rico, many Egyptians, a German, and a Congolose guy made for excellent conversation. Many of us are AUC students and we ended up discussing aspects of our various graduate programs and how they fit with one another (I'm not even joking, we're huge nerds). Religion, African politics, gender, and a host of other issues kept us around the table chatting until well past 3 AM when the downtowners among us caught a cab back together. At one point, I met an Egyptian whose paternal grandfather was a Czech Jew who'd converted to Islam in order to marry an Egyptian Muslim woman, changed his named, and moved to Egypt. This same Egyptian's maternal grandma is Italian. It's stories like this that make me love studying migration. The converging of diverse cultures and the interplay between them is fascinating.
For lunch today, I went with friends to the French culture institute for galettes. I got to use my French with the waiters, but was reminded that I was in Egypt by the salade verte which was, in fact, shredded iceberg lettuce, and the fact that the establishment had no change when we were trying to pay our bill. Ma3lesh! I caught a cabride to Zamalek, did some grocery-shopping, lugged a few bags and a box of 12 1.5-liter bottles of water up to the fourth floor (by American reckoning) of my apartment building and into my apartment and then realized I had reading to do, a reaction paper on that reading, and a preliminary outline of my thesis proposal to turn in all by tonight. And so it was that I spent hours reading and writing about research ethics, which was ok by me because its actually quite an interesting topic. Tomorrow we have a Saturday class to replace our Monday class because our professor will be traveling elsewhere in the region.

Sec. of State Clinton to come to Cairo in March for Gaza-rebuilding donors conference
Tourism in Egypt slumps compared to last year, global economic downturn blamed
Still no word on the whereabouts of Diaa Gad

No comments: