On Sunday evenings I teach English at the downtown AUC campus for the STAR Program. The STAR Program helps refugees learn English in hopes that they can have better job opportunities (in somewhere which is not Egypt because refugees cannot legally work in Egypt). Ultimately, many of the refugees hope to go somewhere like the US or somewhere in Europe since most of them have no choice to return home. I absolutely love talking with all of my students, whose ages range from my age (20) to around 50ish. My group is so diverse
! At first I was expecting most of my students to be from Sudan (many people in the program are from Sudan), but I was pleasantly surprised to find out my class is from all over! I have students from Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Libya, and even two students from Thailand! My co-teacher and I always end up staying about 15 minutes after class just to chat with our students, and we do not mind it a bit because just listening to them is so interesting. Also, I now have a new appreciation for anyone who has ever had to teach English or learn English as a second/other language; who really wants to learn/teach about the functions of a prepositional phrase? I constantly have to reassure my students that I understand how difficult it is to learn a language; often in my Arabic class on Monday morning, we will learn the exact things I was teaching the night before, only, in Arabic! Bedouin Wedding/Engagement Party/Baby Party
So, my Arabic teacher is one of the coolest people on the planet; the other week she invited our entire class to a "Bedouin wedding". Apparently, a friend of her uncle was having some kind of party out in a village about an hour and a half outside of Cairo, and we were all invited! It took us quite a while to get there, after navigating the Cairo Metro and finding our private bus to meet with us, then meeting with our professor
. When we finally arrived, we were seated around a horse ring and there was horse dancing. If you've never seen/heard of horse dancing before, it is where a rider literally makes the horse dance to live Bedouin music playing in the background. While the practice does not look very appealing from the horses view, it was really interesting to watch something that has been done for many of years in the region. The horses were gorgeous and the horse dancing went on well into the night, even after we left. My Arabic professor also arranged for us to talk with various people in order to practice our Arabic skills on real Egyptians. I feel like I have learned so much Arabic in such a short amount of time, but it is still really hard to keep a conversation going about things that are not the weather, my city, or my family. Luckily, I have two more months here, so before that time I should be able to talk about a few more subjects. My friend Tamera and I go to cafes in a close town all of the time to study and we can now order exclusively in Arabic, we even manage to read and understand the all Arabic menu (well, most of it). We also like to initiate conversations with our sheesha caretakers (the man that redoes the coals when they go out); they are usually very entertained and sometimes even help us understand a word or two on our Arabic homework. Race for the Cure at the Pyramids
I can finally say I have been to the pyramids
! For all of you that were wondering, I was tempted to take the Anthony Bordain route and never see them (okay, not really), but I have to admit, the way I went was pretty awesome. For those who are not aware, the Susan G. Komen Foundation supports Breast Cancer awareness and every year throughout the US people join teams and raise money to "walk for the cure". One sorority at PC is very involved with Susan G. Komen, so I was already aware of the foundation, but when I saw a flier in a coffee shop in Egypt for a Race for the Cure at the Pyramids, I knew I had to go. So, a few friends and I got together and signed up; for 25 LE (5 dollars) we received: a t-shirt, a hat, and entrance into the pyramids. We left really early in the morning to take the hour-- at least-- ride to Giza, and I got my first glimpse of the pyramids out of the bus window. There have been a couple of moments in Egypt so far where I am just like, okay, I am really IN Egypt doing something I could never do anywhere else, and this was one of those times. It was incredible to be not only at the pyramids, but to be at the pyramids supporting Breast Cancer awareness. There were girls in bright pink hijab everywhere, and there were also a ton of guys there to show their support as well. I am pretty sure all of the tourists at the pyramids that day were thinking to themselves "What is going on here? Why are there tons of people dressed in pink walking around the pyramids?" The pyramids themselves are also pretty incredible, as I am sure all of you are assuming, and I will return again when I have more time to get the traditional pyramid pictures and to go inside one of them
. Saturday night, after Race for the Cure, a friend of mine and I went to the Cairo Opera House (in reality, it is a complex of opera houses). We went to see an Austrian string quartet with a vocalist. I was so excited to go and the show did not disappoint! The Opera House is amazingly beautiful and in the summer it is even open air. Halloween
Celebrating Halloween was quite the experience in Egypt, especially with Halloween being such an American holiday. My friends and I decided that we would go all out for Halloween by dressing up a bit and then going to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. It is always fun to go to the Hard Rock, if only because they have food that reminds you of home. Nearly all of us ordered steak, with mashed potatoes, and a caesar salad. Normally, this would be a pretty boring choice, but after being here for two months we were ready for some real American food, not Egyptian "Americanized" food. The best part about the steak is that we could get it cooked medium rare (how a steak should be cooked). Usually, in Egypt, if you find steak it will be cooked well done because of Muslim cooking guidelines (which are reminiscent of kosher for Jews); within these guidelines it states that the animal must be killed humanely and in a certain way, and also cooked in a certain way which involves no blood. Also, there has been a severe lack of mashed potatoes in my diet, so the cheesy mashed potatoes were delicious. Finally, the caesar dressing was actually caesar! In Egypt, caesar is usually code for mayonnaise, so getting actual caesar dressing was a wonderful treat. During dinner, I found that I had left my phone in the taxi on the way to Hard Rock, so we called it and the wonderful Cab driver brought it back! Once again the kindness of the Egyptian people has prevailed
I am pretty sure I have left out a million things in this ginormous entry, but I am sure I will have more stuff to share next time I update (which will be sooner). After all, I have some pretty amazing stuff going on; for Eid, my friends and I are heading to Luxor and Aswan, then I am heading to Spain for Thanksgiving the next week. Hopefully, after that my dear friend Alice will come visit me. I feel like I am running out of weeks already and I still have two more months! Halfway there! I love and miss everyone at home. Comment and let me know how you are.
Long time no blog, right? Sorry about the extreme gap between entries, but due to the sudden amount of school work and a never-ending list of opportunities, I have been extremely busy lately! Enough excuses, let me get straight to what I have been up to this past couple of weeks.