Positively 14th Street

Day one of Campus Progress Summit:  Hot and tired, we learn about managing our publications!

Day two of Campus Progress Summit: I lose my cellphone, but gain a Twitter account!

Day three of Campus Progress Summit: I’m a producer!

Big steps, people, big steps.  We were asked to go out into the streets with our borrowed FlipCams and capture the essence of a particular area of the city.  After about an hour, my partner Michael Jarboe and I had gotten fifteen solid minutes of footage.  We had two hours to edit this into a short feature clip, and quickly got to work. Using FlipShare software, we were able to edit and manipulate our different videos, blend them into a 3-minute piece, and add a title and end credits.  For two people who had never edited video before, we were doing well!

And then disaster struck.  Fifteen minutes before deadline, we lost the movie we’d created.  Luckily, we’d had the foresight to write down the order of our clips.  While I wrote this post, Michael got to work recreating what had gone missing.  I’ll let the result speak for itself…

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He Wants to be a Paperback Writer

So.  Back to blogging after a terrifically long hiatus.  As with many things I do, I was motivated to begin again mainly because I was, well, forced to.  

I’m currently on the road again – no, not to Africa this time, but to Washington, D.C. I’m attending a conference sponsored by Campus Progress, a division of the Center for American Progress, that focuses on training and tips for student journalists.  There’s kids from all kinds of papers here, and so far, it’s pretty neat.

One of the instructors, Sarahmaria Gomez of Tu Multimedia, gave us an assignment to write a blog about our time here.  It’s part of a larger assignment about multimedia for web sites, which is posted on her blog at http://jchillaxing.wordpress.com.  Yeah, I’m not sure about the early ’00s slang, either.

But anyway.  Here I am.  There’s about 60 of us here, from colleges and universities around the country.  Some of the publications are tiny (1 to 2 people!) and some have as many as 50 staffers.  I’d say we’re in the middle of the pack – nowhere near the top, design-wise, but certainly more established than some.  It is an exciting atmosphere, and I’m getting really psyched to start working on ‘the square.’ again in September! I’ve also got some serious campus-alt-paper envy going on, which is another great motivating factor.  

Egads, time to go – FlipCam 101 lesson, coming right up.

Summer Teeth

Cairean College Cultural Note #49636:

In American colleges, during finals week the library is so silent that I feel shameful about the sound that my sandals make against the floor. 

At AUC, on the second-to-last day of final exams, the library is so loud that I did not hear my phone ring, and it was sitting less than two feet from my ear.  I did, however, hear (and watch!) a student listen to the entirety of “Stayin’ Alive” on his mobile before finally answering the call.  Go figure.

I am about four hour out from my exam, six hours from being done with this campus entirely.  I can’t say I’ll really miss the campus, or campus culture, at all.  I ran into my philosophy professor, an America who has taught previously at some larger NY universities and a couple of smaller liberal arts schools.  He asked me how my final exam for his class went, and when I replied positively, he thanked me for submitting a “quality paper.”  He then launched into a passionate but defeated tirade about grade inflation, and how he’d so often like to assign Cs but instead feels pressure to give As to most students, passing off a few B+s to the very lowest achievers.  I can’t imagine teaching in such an environment, and I can’t help but feel, as I sit in this library watching people munch on McDonald’s fries and chitchat on Blackberries rather than study or write, that the education here is a bit of a sham.  I’ll write more on this later, but I think a letter to the American wing of AUC’s development group is in order.  A lot of taxpayer/government money goes wards funding this school and  all of its equipment and programming, and yet I don’t think it is being spent wisely in the least.

My last final is for my mythologies class, which consists of some of my favorite study-abroads (all of us are girls), an Egyptian grad student raised in Kuwait, and two Egyptian undergrads who can only be described, as Anna says, like “a pair of overgrown toddlers.” I am pretty sure there’s a Greek student in our class, too, though he’s shown up about four times total.   Our teacher is Greek, born and raised, though she married an Egyptian and has clearly been here for a bit.  She’s petite, speaks with a jovially accented voice, and refuses to let the Romans off the hook for “stealing” from the ancient Greeks.  I’d worry about the exam, but…my experiences so far have me thinking that this one won’t be too tough. It is open notes and open book, so even last-minute memorization isn’t really necessary.

Instead, I think I’ll go read the book I brought with me from Zamalek.  After finishing my first planned “plane book” – Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Unaccustomed Earth” – I’ve moved onto a castaway left in our hall written by the founders of Lonely Planet.  It’s amusing and light, but I’m afraid I’ll finish this one before the flight as well.  Perhaps I’ll resort to reading the leftover philosophy texts and feminist Arab lit from the semester…I can’t pack it all, extra copies of Mahfouz and Dante, anyone?

This Must Be The Place

Number of days left: 3

Number of pages to write: 5

Number of Family Transport trips to/from campus to go: 2

Number of giant orange suitcases to pack: 1

Amount of motivation to do all of the above: 0.  Or maybe even -1.

By this time on Friday, I’ll be in London’s Heathrow Airport, most likely running with my overstuffed backpack and zillion-pound bag trailing behind me to catch my flight to NY.  The layover is only 1.5 hours, so I hope Egypt’s air traffic controllers are kind and let us take off on time.

The past week has been filled with diversions from my ordinary life in Cairo, diversions which have left me with a (more) pleasant taste of Egypt than I’ve had for the last month or so.  Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder when anything here became ordinary, when seeing the Nile started to feel commonplace, when I started to complain about seeing the Pyramids.  Part of me feels like I’ve taken some of this for granted, but I know that a good part of why I can’t focus on Cairo is my excitement for coming home and reconnecting with my life in America. I’m occasionally hit with moments where I think to myself, “I’ll miss this when it isn’t here.”  This has happened several times over the past week, not for anything in particular but for mundane everyday events: watching the wind shift a row of palm trees, seeing a taxi back off of an on-ramp without a care in the world, receiving tiny spoons and entirely too much sugar for a pot of black tea.

Last Tuesday, my friend Sarah came to stay with me for a few days.  She’s been in Morocco with an SIT program for the last four months, first in a homestay in Rabat and then in an apartment in Casablanca doing independent work, with a brief village stay tucked in there somewhere.  After abandoning her for a day, leaving her to do the Citadel on her own with my friend Joey’s guest (two visitors loose in Cairo – good thing she speaks Arabic!), we met up with some friends for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant and some wine on a felucca.  We also showed the visitors Cafe Hureya, the downtown bar and meetup place for expats, chess players, and all sorts of Cairean youth wanting to take advantage of the more liberal night-time culture in the city.  

We spent the next few days doing some of the necessary tourist sights, seeing the Pyramids, the Egyptian museum, the markets downtown, Coptic Cairo, and such.  Sarah and I were able to bargain for some tent fabric (highly decorative but casual cloth painted by Bedouins), some sterling silver jewelry, and a few other things which I can’t say – they might end up as gifts in the hands of those who read this!  It was great to get to do some of the typical Cairo things again with a friend, and her visit came at a nice time – I was forced to review some of the places I like most in the city and to do so with the eyes of a newcomer.  Rather than seeing everything with the weary, jaded shell I’ve acquired, I enjoyed watching what goes on, observing how someone unfamiliar took everything in, and playing tour guide with what I’ve learned.  Having someone familiar with the monetary and sexual harassment was also a plus- we were able to swap experiences and bitterly commiserate, while laughing it off and discussing some of the more serious social implications.  

One of the new sights that we found in Zamalek were a series of tucked-away art galleries, which we stumbled upon during a particularly hot and sticky afternoon walk around the island.  Sarah had done her independent project on the use of Arabic calligraphy in modern Moroccan art, and what sociopolitical statement this influence might have made.  It combined linguistics with art and religious studies with political theory, topics of great interest to both of us.  When we saw a portrait with a face made from Arabic script, we had to go into the gallery.  It was nice to see some of the local art scene, and the gallery owner was more than willing to point us in the direction of other places.  While most visitors tend to think of Egypt’s art in terms of the ancient hieroglyphics and tomb paintings, there is also a vibrant modern art scene, often led by female painters, which goes unnoticed.  

We ended Sarah’s visit with a “farewell dinner” out with a dozen of the girls I’ve become friendly with, at a restaurant that we’ve enjoyed several times during the past four months.  It was nice to have everyone in one place, and as people trickled out, I did realize that I met some very fun and interesting people here, people who I hope to maintain ties with in the future.  Sarah and I declined any more celebrations, since we’d spent the whole day sightseeing, and ended our night instead overlooking the Nile, sharing a slice of the first chocolate cake Sarah had seen in months.  

Perhaps more than the sights themselves, I enjoyed catching up with her and comparing our experiences.  Relating what I’ve been doing and feeling to someone else who is studying abroad in North Africa was helpful, and forced me to think objectively about what I’m doing here.  Our programs differed greatly, with pros and cons to each.  It was interesting to hear how different two seemingly similar societies could be, and how diverse each Moroccan city is.  I was especially surprised by the role that language has played in our experiences:  while I’ve been lamenting the extreme promotion of English in Cairo, Sarah has been fighting her way through a society that relies largely on French and the local dialect.  I can’t help but be a little jealous of how independent she was forced to be, but I did manage to avoid some of the difficulties and isolation that students in that situation often felt.  

Sarah headed back to the airport on Friday evening, and a few hours later Sam and I were in a cab of our own, headed to Turgoman Station.  We met another friend, Tegan,  and boarded the 9 hour bus to Dahab.  Dahab is a relaxing beach town located on the Sinai peninsula, near the more famous resort town Sharm-el-Sheikh.  We chose to head here because we wanted a few laid-back days in the sun, and the large gap of time in between our finals allowed us to take a few days out of the city.  It is a popular spot for AUC students because it is cheaper and has a more youthful vibe than some of the other diving and beach spots along the coast.  We were able to secure a double room at the Penguin Village Hostel for about $4 a night each – I am very spoiled now when it comes to inexpensive travel – going anywhere near Europe again is going to involve a lot of sticker shock.

We reached Dahab with no problems –  a few checkpoints along the way, and a couple of half-hearted looks at our passports were the only diversions.  Egyptian buses play movies, blasting the volume through public speakers as loud as the air conditioning was cold, but luckily I was tired enough from the week that I slept through most of the laughably bad James Bond knockoff film they showed.  After checking in and declining an “activities presentation,” we sipped tea near the water before spending the rest of Saturday in the sun.  It was strange to be wearing a bikini in public after covering most of my body for so long – I’m not sure my skin knew what to do with all the sun!

The strip of developed land in Dahab is essentially comprised of restaurants and lounge spots on the water, complete with low tables and pillows for relaxing.  Some of them lead directly to little patches of rocky beach, adorned with rickety wooden-planked chaise lounges which served as perfect entry points into the water.  Across the way, you can see a gigantic land mass – Saudi Arabia!- and once in the water, it appears almost close enough to swim to.  The water itself was cooler than I expected, but was a gorgeous deep blue, translucent at the coast and darkening as I swam out.  The sand quickly dropped off, leaving me unable to touch the bottom but completely free with few other swimmers in sight.  The salinity of the water – even the showers and sinks ran full of salt – made us more buoyant, and though it was easy to float on the surface, diving deeper was much more difficult.  We watched scuba divers suit up to explore the famous reefs and aquatic life around the Blue Hole, a world-renowned dive spot, but decided that our time was too short and money too tight to get certified ourselves. I guess that gives me an excuse to come back one day…

Even without doing any diving, Dahab provided for a picture-perfect few days away from the craziness of the city.  The three of us spent most of the day laying in the sun, occasionally reading or talking, stopping only to grab a fresh juice or to have some lunch.  Towards the evenings, we strolled the area around the other hostels and small shops, enjoying the breezes that came in as the sun was setting.  At one point we remarked that the best part about it was that there weren’t many option of things to do – you were left with no choice but to fully relax, a very pleasant break at the end of a trying semester.  

The first night, we headed inland, where the restaurants – simply based on location – were about half the price of those on the shore.  We stopped to eat a late dinner at a pretty standard Egyptian place: roast chickens in a rotisserie, some kebabs, and simple dishes of rice, tahini, cucumber salad, and soup on metal tureens.  We ate a small table outside, and our waiter stuffed our table to the brim with more food than we could possibly manage to finish ourselves.  After eating probably one-third of what he gave us, we guiltily looked at the remains – only to be met with about eight of the town’s many cats – the perfect solution for leftovers.  Taking a cue from our neighboring table, we began to feed the cats bits of chicken, mouthfuls of rice, and soon they all wanted in on the action.  Satisfied, they left after a while, leaving us to spend the rest of the darkening night chatting at the table, the sounds of American hip-hop drifting over from a “music shop” next door.

We repeated our relaxing routine the next day, though we ran out of the sunscreen we’d packed from America and had to hit up the small supermarket in search of another bottle.  Sam and I decided on something vaguely German, figuring an imported brand couldn’t be too horrid.  It was marked SPF 30 – a gigantic step up from the 4’s and 8’s we’d seen back in the Cairo MetroMart.  I think we may have chosen wrongly, however, and we both ended up quite red by dinner time.  Having had enough of the sun, we improvised with my aloe-containing face lotion and went out for mojitos over sunset at Yalla!, a restaurant-cum-bar we’d eaten at earlier that day.  

We later wandered over to a restaurant that Sam had eaten at before and that other friends had recommended, Meya-Meya, for fish.  The hilarious waiter brought us a “bedouin fish” dish, consisting of two gigantic whole fish, complete with tail, eyes, and scales, encased in tinfoil with vegetables and a lightly seasoned lemony sauce.  Again, it was far too much food and we were able to give the cats that surrounded our table quite the feast, leaving them to pick on the skeletons of the fish and throwing bits of pita for them to go find and devour.  After dinner we relaxed on the cushions around our table, chatting briefly with the other travelers.  There was a man sleeping on some of the pillows near us, and when we asked, we learned that apparently you can spend the night out there for  a few pounds.  I have to say, it’d probably be cozier than the raggedy-springed beds we were on!

We ended the night by playing with David, a blond haired Irish toddler who we’d seen romping on the beach earlier in the day.  We thought it was a little strange that he was running around Dahab by himself, a little toy car and pint-sized tricycle in tow, but apparently he was the son of the sleeping man!  A bit odd, but he seemed entirely at ease, playing with the waitstaff and throwing his float around the tented outdoor seating.  After he gave up, two men, cousins who appeared British but grew up in Zimbabwe and South Africa, joined us for coffee.  Over heavily spiced cardamom brew and Nescafes, we swapped travel stories, talked about teaching English, and learned why they were around:  one of them had a sister getting married in Israel, so they were touring the area.  I always find it fun to meet other people while exploring new places, and find out what brought them to the same location and what their lives have in store back home.

We left at 2:30 on Monday afternoon, bound for Cairo.  The bus ride was a little trickier – same James Bond spinoff, louder Quranic chanting from the man behind me, and no sleep – but altogether, not terrible.  We made the same stops at checkpoints, but this time around we were asked to go retrieve luggage from under the bus.  Sam had her bags with her, so Tegan and I went and joined the Egyptians in  scramble to grab backpacks.  A few soldiers appeared and said something to the group in brisk, rough Arabic  – we were just confused.  Luckily, a Cairean engineer, a few years older than us, noticed our plight and instructed us through the process: bags on the line, step back, wait.  We watched as german shepherds sniffed our luggage and the guards told us it was okay to put everything back in.  A slightly strange experience, but nothing too unexpected.  

I’m back in Cairo now, briefly.  Today is Tuesday, which means I’ve got to get to work on some take-home finals for my Literature and Philosophy class.  Tomorrow is the last venture to campus, first to hand in my work and then to take an evening Mythology exam.  Thursday will be spent packing and gathering up the last of the gifts and things I’d like to bring home with me.  Sam’s flight is very early Friday morning, so I think we’ll head to the airport together late Thursday night, where I’ll wait to depart at 8:30 am.  Depending on time, I don’t know if I’ll post again – so next time I write, it may be from America!  Ma’a’salemah, Cairo!

(Don’t) Bite Me.

An open letter to all the mosquitos in Egypt:

Dear annoying little insects,

Please, please stop invading our room at night. You keep us from sleeping when we have things like Papers and Finals to address, and you cause all sorts of unnecessary minor traumas including but not limited to the hideous bite you left on my chin. And my chest. Oh yes, and the four on my ankle, and the whopping eight on my instep last week.

How do you do it? Do you work solo, buzzing around at the speed of light? Or do you work in groups, plotting and scheming in order to enact Maximum Destruction?

Either way, you ought to get in touch with the Department of Defense. They could use your cunning.

Oh, and did I mention? Stop. biting. me.

Yours truly with love and Benadryl cream forever,
Cari in Cairo.

Dancing in the Moonlight

Another quick update – here’s the web site for the band that we went to see the other night.

http://www.myspace.com/speedcaravan

Despite my initial skepticism when I realized that the advertisement listed an endorsement from only Peter Gabriel, they turned out to be pretty good, and the night was a lot of fun.  They played one short set (about an hour) but the venue was right on the Nile, the acoustics were good, the crowd had a good vibe, and you can’t beat the price for live music (tickets cost about $5).  This is the sort of thing that, if I were to stay longer, I’d love to do more of. I’m actually a bit disappointed that I didn’t check out the Culture Wheel sooner.  Note to anyone who is coming in the future:  it is a great, and affordable, place to take in some arts and music as well as get a taste of yet another side of Cairo life.

Oh – one of the guys who came along brought a camera and got pretty close to the stage to snap pictures – if I can contact him and get permission, perhaps I’ll add some images here in the near future.

They Cage The Animals At Night

And during the day.  In the sun and in the rain.  With a fox, in a box. Ahem.  This is not Dr. Seuss.  Right.

If you haven’t already guessed from the title, this is the much-anticipated entry in which I give my two cents on the Cairo Zoo.  Now, as an aspiring journalist*, I should probably do some mass expose about the corruption and seedy underbelly of the whole deal.  However, the seediness of this place isn’t really hidden in the “underbelly” and the corruption needs no exposing.  

As fair warning, I should say that I hate zoos to begin with.  I think the basic concept is cruel, and that they’re on the whole, pretty boring.  I like animals, but don’t really like seeing them cooped up in cages, even if these cages are in pristine condition and are visited weekly by an “animal psychiatrist” a la the polar bear at the Bronx Zoo.  In fact, when we came across the beautiful-looking zoo in Barcelona during a walk through a city park, I flat-out refused to go near it, despite a few requests on Chase’s part.  Nevertheless, I’d heard the some other students had gone, and though I had some reservations, I figured it could not hurt to check out what the (government-owned) zoo had to offer. 

Sam and I headed out of Zamalek proclaiming what a nice day it was outside.  We had tried to look up the Arabic word for zoo in order to tell our cab driver where we wanted to go, but had no luck.  Instead, we managed to communicate our destination using a series of Arab-lish words, some hand gestures, and mimicking an elephant.  At that last one, our driver’s eyes lit up –  “Oh, aywa, fee Giza?” – and we knew we were set.  For future reference, “zoo” translates as “animal garden” in Arabic.  

When we pulled up to the gates, however, we quickly realized that this was no Eden.  Clammy and crowded, the entryway was  mobbed with people selling all sorts of items – plastic toys, dried watermelon seeds, juice – not a strange sight for Cairo, but not really a welcome one, either.  Past experiences have shown that where there is cheap entertainment (the zoo costs 1 LE, or 20 cents), there is also no lack of loitering young men, or shababs.  It was pretty much Shabab City, and as two of only three white women in the whole complex, we felt a bit like we, not the animals, were on display.  It seemed like everyone that day had a haga (means ‘problem’- used for when someone is all ‘up in yo’ GRILL’, i.e. in the phrase “fee haga?” – “got a problem?”).  Marriage proposals and nods to Obama aside, we made our way in and started to observe the animals.

The first animal we saw was a type of deer, which was actually not caged but instead lazing lethargically in a small enclosure.  It is a good thing, though, that the animal in question lacked any sort of energy, because the walls of the enclosure were so low it appeared that at any moment, we could be face-to-face with our furry friend.  Moving on, we saw many types of birds in basically gigantic rotunda birdcages, some fox-type small animals in tiny pens, and ostriches sticking their entire necks out through the bars of their cages, pecking at the children who were trying in earnest to feed them some lettuce leaves.  The guards at each exhibit looked on, hot and bored, and occasionally handed food scraps to visitors in exchange for baksheesh.  Sam had found an article online before we went that informed us that a few years ago, one of the zoo employees slaughtered a camel “to feed his family,” which might give you an idea of how well these men are paid.  I don’t blame them for trading wilted greens for a few piastres.

We were very surprised to find that every cage and enclosure was labeled in both Arabic and English, complete with descriptions and scientific names.  However, upon closer inspection, many of them were incorrectly labeled or devoid of animals entirely.  For example, the “giraffe” area was inhabited by a few goats.  This is because, as we read before going, the giraffe had recently died.  Yikes.  I know about the circle of life and all that, but I can’t help but wonder if the less-than-adequate food supplies (prepared in a shack labeled ‘food prep room’) and inhumane conditions contributed in any way.

By far, the worst exhibits were the lions and the elephant.  The lions, of which there must have been dozens, all lived in a dirty, dark, overheated, foul-smelling “house” called the Lion Room.  Each one was kept in a tiny cage, stacked double-high, that was too small to allow for a complete body rotation.  The animals must’ve been tranquilized, because they were pretty tamed and not moving much. Men constantly ask if you’d like to “take a picture with baby lion,” meaning a not-so-small lion cub is thrust into your hands for a photo op and a fee – an offer which we declined.  We could only stay in the building for thirty seconds – it was uncomfortable and hard to watch the scene.  I later described it as looking like an “animal cracker box,” minus the nostalgia.  The elephant was perhaps even sadder.  Chained to one corner of a very small patch of dirt, he cowered while crowds of people swarmed around him and loudly shouted to one another.  I couldn’t help but think of the George Orwell short story, which ends with the majestic creature reduced to a crumpled grey mass on display.  I snapped several pictures for documentation, but I’m having trouble loading them onto my computer and so you’re saved the visual imagery – for now, at least. 

All in all, that was pretty much the extent of our trip to the zoo.  Within twenty minutes of arriving, we looked at each other pitifully and declared that it was time to go. 

Despite what I’ve said, I don’t see reason to call in the PETA troops anytime soon.  Yes, the conditions are, by Western standards, inhumane.  Yes, I do think these animals are not as comfortable, healthy, or well-treated as they should be.  But this sort of mistreatment goes on regularly at smaller petting zoos, circuses, and animal shows around the United States.  This isn’t to say that the problems should not be addressed – I just don’t think that international interest groups will do the trick.  Actions of groups like this one should focus on corporate enterprises such as fur manufacturers and factory farms – places where public opinion and media interest play a larger role.

I do think, though, that the government should put more effort into upkeep of facilities, and address the problems of labor conditions and compensation for zoo workers.  The low cost of entrance makes the park an affordable outing for many Egyptians who cannot otherwise afford outside entertainment, and for that, I applaud the initiative.  But as Sam and I discussed, raising ticket prices by a few pounds would triple the revenue without prohibiting the general population from enjoying an afternoon out.  I’m not going to hold my breath for change, though, given that as the government has many other pressing matters to deal with, I don’t think “goat comfort levels” are high on the list.  One of the things I’ve noticed during my time here is that paying attention to issues such as sustainability, the environment, and animal rights can only happen once basic human needs are met, thus making them “privileged” causes that don’t factor into the mindset of your average Egyptian citizen. Those who struggle daily don’t have the time or resources to devote, and those who do have such things are often preoccupied. Frustrating, but a fact of life. 

Aside from the zoo outing, our weekend was relatively low-key.  Sunday was Sam’s actual 21st birthday, and I found an oven (thanks, apartment-dwellers) and baked an American-style cake to commemorate the occasion.  Duncan-Hines cake mix was easy to find, but chocolate frosting was not – though, Nutella made a very tasty pinch-hit substitute.  The evening would’ve gone off without a hitch, minus the fact that I, uncoordinated as I am, managed to hit Sam square in the eye with a wine bottle opener (sorry!).  It was touch-and-go for a minute, and the thought crossed my mind about how we’d go about finding adequate emergency care, if need be.  See, it is a common amusement here to joke about the Al-Salaam Hospital and the Mahmoud Eye Surgery Center, but when something does happen, the risky options don’t seem as funny.  Luckily, she was mostly healed after icing the wound with Cairo’s version of icepacks: cold Coke cans. All’s well that ends well, I guess, and luckily we were able to continue the celebrations. 

This week, I’ve been winding down in classes and starting to prepare for the final papers and exams of the semester.  Today I took the day off and went to meet my friend Lamya, a Dickinson graduate from Yemen who I met during my freshman year through Students for Social Action.  She had an eleven-hour layover in Cairo between NY and home, so we killed some time catching up (and getting kicked out of various free sitting spaces) at the City Stars mall in Nasr City.  It was great to see her, and I hope she can join us in the US soon, for good. 

The other excitement of the week stemmed from an issue of the AUC newspaper, Caravan, which came out on Sunday afternoon.  This issue, the last for the semester, was devoted entirely to students’ perceptions of America.  Needless to say, the articles were pretty touchy and provoked quite the reaction.  I’ve been wanting to do a general entry on the paper, and now I’d like to write a formal response – though I think I’ll hold off until I’ve talked to a few more people and have some more time free.  Until then, congratulations to graduating seniors at home, and to fellow juniors still abroad – hang in there and enjoy the end of your stay – only a few weeks to go!

*I think I can almost officially use this title now!  Upon returning to home-away-from-home Carlisle, PA this summer, I’ll be interning a couple of days/nights a week for the editorial desk of the Harrisburg Patriot-News.  All jokes aside (please!), even if it means I’ll be fetching coffee for the obits writer (as suggested by one of the fantastic friends here…) I am very excited to have my first placement – and having some “real” clips won’t hurt, either.  Bring it on, Print Media naysayers, bring it on.