My nose has been in this book for the past few weeks:
Did you know the Mosque of Ibn Tulun is said to be Cairo’s oldest mosque, built somewhere between AD 876 and AD 879? Or that Egypt is home to the famous Fayoum Portraits, some of the earliest ever examples of portraiture dating from 3rd century AD? Here’s something mind-blowing: the Pyramids are the only one of the Seven wonders of the Ancient World to survive.
Pretty cool, right?
As I’m sitting in the airport flipping aimlessly through this book, I stop for a moment to look up at my surroundings. There’s a young girl in a yellow polka dotted dress being half carried, half dragged by her father who is quickly losing patience. There’s a woman typing away faster than I am sitting near by me; she looks like she’s got everything under control. The hustle and bustle of the airport is comforting for some reason. The more I watch people prepare to board their planes to various destinations around the globe, the more I start thinking about my own: Cairo, Egypt. The real Cairo, not the 2-dimensional one I’ve been obsessing over.
My carry-on bag beside me is stuffed to the brim with arts and crafts supplies. As are my other bags. My ratio of necessities to pom pom balls, glue sticks, play-doh, colored beads, and yarn is highly unbalanced. If you can’t tell, I’m really looking forward to working with the children at Ana-El Masry. Ana El-Masry is an Egyptian non-profit foundation that rehabilitates street children that me and my fellow DukeEngage Cairo participants will be teaching at. I will be working in the arts group with Yohana and Stephanie in hopes of seeing the children learn through creativity and expression. Even though I haven’t met the kids yet, I find myself thinking of them often.
This trip will be my first time traveling outside North America. I’m listening to the travelers around me talk on the phone, order food, and speak with their loved ones… normal exchanges. Exchanges you would hear anywhere in the world, just not necessarily in English. In just a few hours, most of the interactions around me will be in Arabic. After only one year of studying the language, I have come to fall in love with it, but it won’t be feasible for me to communicate solely in Arabic. I see a lot of hand motions and stumbling over Egyptian dialect in my future. I’m not sure if I’m full of excitement or angst right now, but I’m hoping for a practical, healthy mix of the two.
It’s uncertain what DukeEngage has in store for me. We’ve been given such an amazing opportunity and I trust that this will be the experience of a lifetime; an experience I will never forget and one that will change my perspective- my perspective of the world, my perspective of others, and my perspective of civic engagement. But, perhaps most importantly, engaging with partner organizations in Cairo will change me in a way I will not expect.
I’ve always loved to write, and I have a few blogs I update regularly, so this summer will be no exception. I’ll be keeping a small hand-written journal for personal reflections as well, so some excerpts may make it up on this site. I can’t wait to share my experiences, stories, and anecdotes. I’ll also try to keep readers updated on what we’re doing and seeing in Cairo, while composing thoughts and opinions about civic engagement and volunteerism. I’m about to board the plane, so the next time I post I’ll be in Egypt, inshallah!
Photo Source: http://www.hotelstravelpal.com/Africa/Egypt/Images/islamic-cairo-01.jpg http://www.fliegerweb.com/user_bilder/Boeing737800_EgyptAir_400x263.jpg