Monday, March 9, 2009

Particularly busy yesterday, I didn't have time to write up an entry. From 3 PM until 4 AM I had two meetings, trekked out to Hay al-Ashr to teach English, and hung out with friends on the rooftop of the Odeon Palace Hotel.
Teaching was fantastic. The students were very responsive and it felt like they were actually taking something away from the lesson. For the security of the NGO and its operations around Cairo, I'm not going to blog much about my teaching experiences, but will be certain to share my insights in my Rotary speeches this summer.
We took a couple of minibuses back. I prefer them to the larger city buses. Though before going to and from Hay al-Ashr I always dread the commute, when I'm actually in the taxi there or the bus back, I love watching out the window. There's so much to see in Cairo, so much that's completely unlike home and other things that are quite comparable. On the way back last night, we passed an unfinished apartment building with rebar sticking out every which way from the concrete foundations which were interspersed with bare brick walls. Three veiled women sat on the floor in the dim light of the only finished room in what might otherwise be a towering multi-family dwelling. On the wall was a picture of Ché Guevara. It reminded me of the poster of Usher, G-Unit, and other hip-hop personalities in the school earlier that night. It's interesting which aspects of cultures translate into others and how.
Today was Mohammad's birthday. My friend Reham explained that it's a bit like Christmas in a way–you gather together with family, eat a lot (especially the sweets that I mentioned before that are associated with the holiday), and hear stories about the founder of Islam. After class she and I together with classsmates Erin and Brandy went back to the pastry and sweet shop that Phil, Ross and I went to the other night. We each got something and then parted ways for the evening.
I was reading the Caravan today and, though disappointed by the fact that the Egyptian students are more than willing to organize protests over coffee on campus being too expensive while forgetting that several their fellow countrymen are being held in undisclosed locations without charge, I read a couple of articles about AUC's responses to student requests. The immaturity of the students and the oft-misplaced emphasis of their demands seem actually to be dealt with appropriately by the administration, but by and large, the institution does not function well and is an endless source of vexation for students and faculty. I guess it's a waiting game to see whether or not it will ever improve.
Along the way to Abd al-Hadi (the sweet shop) tonight as on the way to class, I passed by the pile of rubble where the butcher shop used to be out front of the building that houses the Bab al-Louq souq. There was a riot police truck, a heavy police presence, and people tearing down even more of the outcroppings of the building that used to crowd the entrance. I still have no clear idea of what's going on over there.

Cargo ship sinks in the Red Sea
Israeli offensive in Gaza boosts popularity of Hamas
British establish contact with Hizbullah, US not ready to follow suit
After setbacks, American and European delegations allowed entry to Gaza

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