Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11, 2011

Been back home for a few days now, amazing how slow the transition has been. I am glad classes don’t start for a few days – allows for both preparation and recovery. In summary, time in Egypt was too short, time at home is too short, life is too short. Too many things to do and see. Just not ready for a rocking chair. Endless thanks to friends and family for their support. Most of all thanks to Maria, without whom none of this would have been possible. Till the next time, next trip, next blog.
Thank you for putting up with my babbling.


May 6, 2011

Well, here it is the day before departure. Yom El Juma (the day of prayer) is also a good day to protest following the noon prayer. And so it was--not a good day to go to Tahrir Square but a really great time to go poking around the old parts of the city. Shops are open, everyone gone protesting, no heavy pedestrian traffic down the passages which have seen hundreds perhaps thousands of years of people coming and going. I got to see this first hand thanks to Ibrahim and Hanna, new friends, they and their family were a delight and I am much better for knowing them. At Hanna’s suggestion we went on tour of the old section of Cairo, visiting places like the place of Sultan Ghori, and surrounding buildings and areas of ages past. A wonderfully refreshing time. Lunch with the entire family brought closure to our time together. I shall always be in debt to Ibrahim, Hanna and all the others who made my stay in Egypt most memorable.

The final meal in Egypt was spent just like the first: with Drs. Frahim, Ibrahim, and Mohammad. All of whom made me a part of the faculty at Suez Canal University. My thanks to each of them, to the entire Faculty and to each of my students. I was very fortunate in that rather than having 150 students I really had 150 Arabic instructors. My thanks for all you have learned and for all you have taught me.

May 4, 2011

As advertised, the cab ride to the Ministry of Education was totally uneventful. Meeting was the idea of Noha Labib who is actually the Academic Programs Manager for Microsoft and is, without question, one of the most knowledgeable, energetic and focused educators with whom I have had the privilege of association. I cannot imagine anyone who would not be caught up in her enthusiasm. So there we were having tea with the shakers and movers of Egyptian education. It was a thoroughly productive and lengthy session. People with vision are beginning to emerge and it is truly an exciting time in Egypt.

After the meeting I sort of roamed around the old downtown area doing more looking than shopping. While wondering wherever I actually stumbled upon a familiar place. The Café Riche. Jose Llanes and I were introduced to this place by Dr. Ali Sweezi, a fine arts professor at Suez Canal University. The Café is a watering hole for the fine arts folks and has been such for a long long time. While there I noted a bearded, long haired American debating philosophical thought with a young woman whose ethnicity was a complete mystery (since we were close to the downtown campus of the American University Cairo, I assumed they were from there). On a lighter note, there was a table of French people and one man insisted on complaining about some sort of food problem. It struck me as humorous that someone who might willingly eat snails and patties of frog grass would complain about food. That was the end of a delightful day.

Tomorrow is Friday. A day of prayer and rest. Saturday depart for the land of the round door knob. In many ways this trip has been all too short, in other ways all too long. On balance I am grateful for the experience, grateful to those who made it possible. If the opportunity arises in the future, would I do this again? You bet I would.

May 3, 2011

Last lecture today. Prepared exam questions, finished one of two after-action reports for Suez University. Now back in Cairo, well fed but tired. Have a scheduled meeting with the Vice Minister of Education and the Vice Minister of Technology tomorrow. It has been a long time since I have had an exit interview at the national level. If we have lunch, I hope it comes with a table cloth.

Note: I asked Badr to take down the directions in Arabic so I could just hand them to a cab driver. Well one of the hotel guys drives a cab on his days off (like tomorrow) and another one of the guys (good bi-lingual speaker) needs a ride, same area, same time. Now I have cab on call, with escort and the prospect of a delightful time. Ya gotta love it.

May 2, 2011

Lots going on. Let me start with a couple of nights ago. Long ride, got in from Suez later than usual. The hotel guys (Rafiq, Ibrahim, and Badr) invited me to join them for dinner. They prepared a special treat that I had never had before-- they called if “mackarona”. Honestly, it was an excellent pasta and would have been good in any language. I suggested some “gibna” (that is Arabic for cheese – please note I am getting sooooo relaxed with the language here). Gibna, min fudluck. Any way after the gibna/cheese thing I suggested catsup. That did not go over very well. Rafiq suggested I either finish eating or take a ride in a black cab. I immediately resumed eating, cleaning everything on my plate including the hard-boiled bayd. This was enjoyable but the true night of Culinary Delight was yet to come.

Last night Maysaa’s brother and his wife invited me to diner. By the way if you don’t know who Maysaa Barakat is, she and her family are wonderful friends of our family and she is an excellent Arabic teacher. Enough of that – back to dinner. Brother Asser and spouse (I think I have gotten worse with names. His wife’s name is not spouse) story line continues…. Picked me up and we went off into the dark of night and Cairo traffic. We arrived at the Automobile Club. Ha, you say, went to AAA? Not on your life. In the first place this is Egypt. So it would be the EAA! But I digress. We entered a building which once was the playground for the now long gone King Farouk. This former entertainment center for royalty has been transformed into one of the high end eateries in the city (and conservatively classed among the best worldwide). Salad was served in the Salad Room. It wasn’t really salad like “let-us” but rather 12 plates of the most wonderful appetizers one could imagine. All had names, all were exceptional, and I don’t have a clue what they were called. I do know that if I ever see anything like them again, I will claim it all for me. Fair warning. Remember I have been to a Bedouin wedding so I know how to eat with my hands. I wanted to impress my hosts with my cultural ability but after my second handful I noticed they weren’t using their hands – they were just staring at me. I think they were really impressed especially when I wiped my fingers on the back side of the table cloth so the stains wouldn’t show. Only a real international traveler knows these things. We seemed to have been quickly moved to the main course room and having established my internationalness, proceeded to dine with proper utensils and there were a lot of those.

In sum, the dining, conversation and pure enjoyment could only have been better if Maria were with us. By the way, I really did not do all the bad things. I just wanted to see Maria’s reaction after reading this.

Monday, May 2, 2011

May 1, 2011

Very quiet day today. Slept late had fuol and tamiea breakfast with the guys who work on the 6th floor of the hotel. One of them vaporizes and Schazam, he returns with food. I have no idea where he goes and being reasonably familiar with the neighborhood, I have never asked. Rafiq and I went to Khan El Khalily this afternoon. This is the old market area (I think just for tourists). I can’t imagine what everyday people would do with statues of Nefertiti (in varying sizes) or an endless supply of “I heart Egypt” t-shirts.

The great part about today was that I broke my self imposed “black cab rule.” Rafiq hailed the dreaded black cab and as I began to scream and cry, he pushed me into the back seat and off we went. I learned many things today. First of all, Rafiq speaks less English than I speak Arabic. Most of our conversations begin with incomprehensible mumbling and end with both of us laughing. We have a deeply bonded friendship. By the way, Rafiq is a very large person with all the attributes of a professional boxer. Most impressive is his language ability. The Arabic word for “No” is “La” a quiet, soft, gentle word. And so it is when Rafiq speaks. However, the second time “La” seems to come out in all capital letters and would be roughly translated as “not in your lifetime, pig breath.” Even the drivers of the black cabs were impressed with his linguistics and happily lowered the fares as a sign of respect. We had a great time being pursued by shop keepers for most of the afternoon. Had a quiet cup of coffee and/or tea in a local back street tea house with hubblie bubblies at each table. Ha – gotcha. They use some kind of sweet smelling stuff not the famous hubblie bubblie tobacco outlawed in most parts of the civilized world. Besides, all it was doing was making Rafiq cough. An enjoyable day with lots of work tomorrow.

Farewell from the streets of Cairo.

April 29, 2011

Life continues. Yesterday I joined Ibrahim and his family for a late lunch/early dinner which was thoroughly enjoyable. Amir is a friend of Essam Abouzeida and meeting the family lived up to all expectations.
We ate at a fish restaurant which is a branch of a restaurant in Port Sayeed. Extraordinary seafood. I have decided that there is no more fuol and tamayia on the street corner. No, Sir. From now it is only upscale dining for me. Like the restaurants that float on the Nile or the Fish restaurant which has a better sounding name in Arabic but I forget what it sounds like. Chili’s is good as well as Kentucky Fried Chicken which are closer. A whole new vista of culinary delights.

Today is Friday, the Moslem Day of Prayer (sort of like a Christian Sunday except there is more praying). Most shops are closed as is the school. Saturday is the second day of the weekend. Sunday is the Lord’s Day for Christians so I will observe Sunday. Monday is Labor Day (a national holiday – no school). Do the math. Four days off. Excellent time to read, write, prepare lesson plans and visit places or sleep. I really feel the need to bring back these cultural perspectives to share with all those I love and miss so much.

Warm regards till next blog time

PS. Will have internet on Tuesday.

April 28, 2011

Class went very well and the ride back to Cairo was uneventful, just another 120+kph zip down the road. The evening took on a whole new meaning when I joined Maysaa Barakat’s friends for dinner.

Usually someone picks me up and I can engage in a thought free journey to wherever. This time it was suggested that I take a cab and join them. No problem. Grabbing my Egyptian phrase book, I ran into the street and secured the first available car. I was really lucky. It was a Lada. Now the Lada is a Fiat made in Russia during the cold war. Mine was an original. It looked like it had been retrieved from a scrap yard within the past day or two. After identifying the destination and negotiating a price (since this was my first Cairo car I had nothing with which to compare prices, but negotiation seemed important at the time) anyway, I jumped in and off we went. The cab driver was very naturally resource conscientious. As we sped off into the night, he turned the head lights off. I am sure this saved a lot of electricity and made us safer. The other cars would not hit what they could not see and there we were cloaked in darkness, in 5 lanes of traffic on a 3 lane street. I will spare you the part about only going 30kph (it was either to save gas or because of the violent shaking [both me and the car] at speeds above 30.

About a half hour later, Amr called and he talked to the cab driver. Half hour after that there we were at the La Pasha, a world class restaurant on the Nile. Me and the Lada among all those chauffeured Mercedes Benz(s). I learned at dinner that the cab driver did not know where the La Pasha was so he was taking me to his favorite fish restaurant. While dining one of the people at our table pointed out that the Egyptian VP was seated at a table across the room. I was so impressed that I planned to stop by and see if he arrived by Lada. It is always good to establish something in common with new friends. Anyway, dessert came and I forgot to say “Hi”. Trip back was by a new metered cab (I dreaded the thought of a high end expensive taxi). When I got back to the hotel, I discovered that the trip was 4 times less than the Lada. I tore out the “Taxi” pages from my Egyptian phrase book and threw them away. Meal was great, company extraordinary, and life goes on.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April 26, 2011

Spent Easter with General Barak (Maysaa’s father) and friends at Obari, just outside Cairo. Easter is a national holiday in Egypt and Moslems and Christians spend time with respective families. Or they spend time in traffic just trying to join their respective families. It was nice to be outside the city.

Food there was excellent(as always). When I first arrived I had to select food by color: Green, Light Green and Dark Green or Brown, Light Brown or Dark Brown. That was because I did not know the Arabic names for the things I was eating. Now that is all changing. I am learning the Arabic names. For instance I was served a light green vegetable pronounced “let-us”. It was served with sliced tomatoes (I haven’t learned the name yet but I recognized the taste). When I return home I hope we can find “let-us”. It is really good.

That’s all for now. Class prep, writing, students and other academic things will rapidly consume the day.

ma’is salaama

April 23, 2011

Yesterday the Ibrahim family and I made a trip to the Sinai. Just a five minute ferry ride across the Canal and there we were: crossing the Bar Lev Line. Things on the east bank are still undeveloped. We climbed in the back of an old small pickup (Dr. Ibrahim, Mrs. Ibrahim, three sons and a daughter) and took off in the direction of nothing. P.S. the first truck broke down within two miles; we were picked by another truck and continued.

Bar Lev was a line of defense established by Israel on the East bank of the Canal. It was a fortified line sufficient to stop a ground assault by Egypt. At the start of the war, the Egyptians launched one of the greatest engineering feats in military history. They used water cannons to hydraulically open a path through the line and then sent in equipment, soldiers and supplies and the war was on. We toured the old Israeli positions and I was impressed with the emptiness of the place. A few olive trees and vast openness. Nowhere to stay, nowhere to run. A very reflective day.

April 22, 2011

Fascinating day in Ismailia. Toured a private High School and met with a group of English majors. All seniors and very proficient. Their questions were honest, difficult, and reflected their concerns. For instance: Why doesn’t America make Israel give Palestine back to the Palestinians’ the land the Israelis stole? When will the US make Gaddafi step down? Did you vote for Obama? Now that our revolution is over, what do you recommend as our next step?

Just the kinds of questions I wanted to deal with at 10:00 in the morning (or any other time). I reminded them I was from the College of Education not Political Science. They said “Oh, OK”. First round mine.

Second round. The Egyptian education system needs to be changed – What changes should we make? How can I study in America? We need to have a teacher fired – how can we do this? (Note: by this time I was looking for a window from which I could unceremoniously jump from or at least tell them I was really German and did not understand English or Arabic). Truth is that when I stopped crying, we were able to engage in a wonderfully meaningful dialogue.

These students were exceptionally well informed, respectful but not intimidated. They are genuinely seeking answers to both simple and complex questions. If these students represent the youth of Egypt, I think the future is in good hands.

April 21, 2011

I am really beginning to enjoy “non-teaching” days. Spent some time with Mohammed in Suez City. His wife and children stayed with her parents. About 6:00pm Mohammed asked if I would like to go to a wedding and off we went. About 30 minutes outside Suez, Mohammed turned off the road, in the dark and proceeded to drive toward some far off fires. I did not have a clue.

As we approached I could make out several large tents, some open on all sides and some closed (I found out later the closed tents were for the women). Any way these things were huge and the men were sitting on rugs spread on the sand. A few of the younger men were in western clothing but the vast majority were wearing gallabayas (the long night shirt looking apparel, common in Egypt and elsewhere). This was a scene straight out of National Geographic. The men wore turbans and were seated on the ground and seemed to be age grouped. Our arrival was met by everyone in the tent. It must have taken 30 minutes just to Salaam each person there. A large metal tray (about three feet in diameter) was brought in and placed on the ground in front of us. It contained an 8 inch high pile of brown rice with chunks of lamb and goat piled on top. Dinner had begun. The goal was to select a piece of meat, tear it apart and consume the smaller pieces. Then scoop up large mouthfuls of rice with the spoon provided. Here we were, somewhere in the sand, eating dinner in a Bedouin Wedding camp. The neat part is that they were all related to Mohammad, one big nomadic family. The hospitality of the Egyptian people is legend. The hospitality of the Bedouin is extraordinary. We ate for about 2 hours, drank a gallon of tea and began our goodbyes. Mohammed is highly respected. I don’t think many Bedouin earn PhDs. As we drove off in the night, past large herds of goats and sheep, I could not help thinking that during the whole evening, I never did see a camel……… or a woman.

In the morning it is off to Ismailia.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20, 2011

Let’s start with yesterday. I was prepared to offer an undergraduate class a guided discussion on the subject of classroom effectiveness. Nooooo problem. The first hint was when they told me the room had changed and off we went. Entering the new room I found a lecture hall with approx 150 faculty and graduate students already seated. The situation was less than thrilling. Upon finding out that they were expecting a “Workshop” on the topic not a Lecture on Dissertation and Thesis creation comparisons between the U.S. and Egypt. It seems that in a lecture, the speaker speaks and in a “workshop” they can ask questions. Pulling up some slides from the Dissertation Seminar, off to “Workshoping” we went. End result – it is amazing how similar our methods are. There is some variance in Chapters 2 and 3 but much more similarity than difference. A request was made to continue next week. Will be interesting to see if the delivery changes with advance notice. Learning point: even if you don’t know what it is, prepare for it. Always, always have more material prepared than you think you will need.

That was yesterday. Today Badar, our driver, picked me up early and we drove to the sanctum sanctorum somewhere in the inner workings of Cairo. After carefully negotiating narrow streets reminisant of a Humphrey Bogart movie, we stopped and Badar gestured for me to get out of the car. We were at a sidewalk tea shop. Actually, there were two propane bottles each powering burners, one for water, one for some kind of bean looking almost soup. The “chairs” were concrete blocks from some long ago destroyed building, no tables and our roof was a tree. Several “working folks” were gathered and viewed the American with curiosity and sincere interest. Badar introduced me to several of them as well as the owner. The best part of the restaurant was the owners “hubblie bubblie” a large smoking devise which uses scented tobacco. I don’t know what he was smoking but he really liked it. He suggested that he was ready to move his restaurant to America since he had his first American customer. When the others told him he would have to leave his hubblie bubblie in Egypt, he said that he would stay. Everyone had a good laugh at the proprietors’ expense. Bader and I finished our tea and went on to pick up Dr Frahim. A great beginning to a great day.
Regards from Suez

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19, 2011

Will have a free extended weekend this weekend. Friday and Saturday are the normal weekend plus Sunday (just sort of thrown in) and Monday is Easter. Yes, Easter is a legal holiday here is this predominantly Moslem country. Will be spending time in Esmilia. This is an old city, more to do there than in Suez. Will be visiting a High School there and looking forward to going. Have acquired two students here, one Master’s and one Doctorate. The Master’s student, Eman Yahya, defended her thesis proposal last Sunday. Three hours of grilling in Arabic and English. When it comes to defense or exams, these folks do not play games. Approximately 75 in attendance, a least 15 faculty and each of them had a question or comment. Fun to watch. Eman did extraordinary well, for which I am thankful because the process was turning me into a nervous wreck. That’s about all for now. Best wishes from the land of sand.

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 16, 2011

A little behind in blogging but will try to catch up. Class went well last Wednesday. On the way to Cairo, Dr. Frahim (Suez Canal University VP), another faculty member, and I stopped by a large steel producing firm. Dr. Frahim had an appointment with the managing director of the facility. We met in a large modern board room, all the electronic gizmos you would ever want and a setting that made the business world appealing. The four of us had coffee and the primaries engaged in small talk. During the conversation the Director reached into his pocket, produced a checkbook, and proceeded to write a check and hand it across the table to Dr. Frahim. The check was for the cost of a Mosque to be built at the University. One check: one Mosque. This had to be a fundraisers dream. The fascinating part is that the check originated in the hands of a Christian and passed to a Moslem. The Christian community in Egypt was present before the time of Mohammed, and remains a vibrant part of the Egyptian landscape. Unfortunately, supportive acts across faith go on typically unnoticed. While acts of terror and the stupidity of fanatics are reported with such frequency they almost appear “normal.” In my limited experience, I find caring acts across faith far outweigh the negative behaviors of the intolerant.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 13, 2011

Today was another fast mover in ole Egypt. Participated in an Open Seminar (about 200 faculty and students in attendance). Panel members included past and present Deans from Suez and other universities as well as a couple of university vice presidents. I find that there are times when the loudest voice is the one that speaks least. Besides my Arabic is not all that good, so it is easy to sit and look intellectual. Anyway I was struck by the common issues between here and at home. The topic for the seminar was “The Future of the College Of Education.” We discussed everything from staffing, salaries, community involvement, faculty development, governance and student involvement. It was very enlightening to find that we (at home) are not the only ones facing these issues. Seminar was long but very worthwhile. Rest of the day was spent with students or traveling back to Cairo. All is well.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 9, 2011

Had a really great weekend. Started Thurs and Fri with Maysaa Barakat’s father. He is retired Egyptian General Officer (Engineers). We had lunch on Thursday at the Nile River Yacht Club in Cairo. Joined by the Club Master (another retired general) and spent the afternoon discussing lateen sails, light winds, cross current, big ships, small boats and just about everything nautical.

After lunch we drove to Tahrir Square (where the revolution began). All was peaceful.

Friday we went to the General’s home outside Cairo in Obari. Joined his neighbor and long time friend (another retired general) and later a third friend showed up. Had Brunch and then dinner. No restaurant could produce food of the quality we had there. Besides, I can’t remember when I have seen so many generals. We watched the Friday riots at Tahrir Sq with great interest and discussed history, government, and the future of many things. It was a wonderful intellectually exhausting evening.

Got up Sat in time to visit Tahrir Sq. When we got there (Dr Frahim and I) the major riots were over. Still had a burnt bus and a truck still on fire. Small groups debating things about which I am sure they knew less than I. Really an exciting time to walk around the birthplace of the Revolutiuon. Peace is coming slowly, only one killed the day prior. After taking pictures we had coffee and went shopping. Could not ask for a better day.

PS. Not worried about personal security. Very safe all the time. I also carry a nijab so if things get exciting they cannot see I am an American….

TA TA from Cairo

April 5, 2011

Trip over was great. Flew in on KLM. I was supposed to change planes in Amsterdam but Cairo was closed and I had to stay overnight in Amsterdam. Oh poor me. After arriving in Cairo the plane was greeted with the largest rainfall in the last 5 years (so I am told). Roads were covered with water, low areas became lakes. It was terrific. Puddles in the road were just another excuse for a vehicle wreck. Traffic here makes Rome, London, New York, and Tokyo look like kiddy land. I spend 4 hrs + per day being driven between Cairo and Suez City. Most of it is desert – all of it is traffic.

The Schedule: Our weekend is Fri and Sat. On workdays, I get picked up about 7:00 am and off to Suez. On Monday, I have a 10:45 am Adult Ed Class with Dr. Mohammed Sweylem. He has developed an excellent classroom style. The students have adjusted well to a little Arabic and a little English. Their questions are exceptionally well thought out and insightful. They are truly a reflection of the best of the Jan 25, 2011 Revolution.

Tuesday: Two classes; another Adult Ed Class in the AM and a Research Class for Faculty and advanced graduate students in the PM.

Wednesday: A research class for students in the PM.

Thursday: An advanced graduate student seminar. We have our own student developed agenda: presentation techniques, assessment, and what to do after a revolution (just kidding) and writing.

Camel loads of luv from Suez

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14

The frustration of waiting is mounting daily. Each setback requires new planning to cover the anticipated stay in Egypt. Having said that, there are positive sides to the waiting. One positive side is to reflect on the overall Egyptian situation. The end of 30 years of political domination and the beginning of a hopefully more open and democratic period is most noteworthy. I know of no period in Egypt's past where the country was governed as a democracy. What is needed to make the transition? In the most basic terms three things are needed to usher in the new government: 1) food, 2) jobs 3) self-determination. When those three conditions are met the opportunity for an entirely new social order and societal growth are possible. Enough reflection. It looks like the schedule is now back on for the first part of April. Perhaps then we can get back to the business of whatever it is Professors do. Enshallah.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 9

Things are still on hold. There are indications that the University may open next week. In which case, my departure is near. However, we have had false hopes in the past so I am continuing to wait with patience. There were demonstrations in Tahrir Square in Cairo which did not really relate to the political situation there but do indicate an underlying social problem. A group of women went to the square to celebrate World Women's Day and were harassed by a large group of men who eventually drove them from the square. Gender equity comes hard in many places. Lastly, the friction dealing with Coptic Christians also is playing a part in the disorder. Yesterday the Army was used to quell a religious disturbance. Copts and Moslems have lived side by side for centuries, it is sad to see this sort of disruption surface. Will let you know how the opening of the university goes.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Feb 26

Good news. A new Egyptian Minister of Education has been appointed and things are beginning to approach normal. With any luck I should be able to depart in the next couple of weeks. Still remaining cautious. But things are begining to stabilize.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Delays continue

Well, here we are. The beginning of another week and still no movement. The University remains closed. The Americian University Cairo (AUC) and some of the Private Schools have opened but the major public universities remain closed. The reasons for delayed opening are complex. One version is that they are not sure what to do about campus security. It seems that the previous "security" forces fed information to the central government (Mubarak) and therefore were not really trusted. So, should they retun to campus and suffer student retaliation or should the various universities go with out any campus security at all? By the way, the question of the role of the campus security is merely speculation, but suspicion is often based on fact. For what ever reason, there is really no reason to return to Egypt to teach until the university is open. Perhaps next month - perhaps.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Feb 14

Things are looking up. Egypt is now in the hands of its people and the Universities are open. If all goes well I will be in Egypt next week. Last minute preparation including, travel medication, proper clothing (have been checking weather daily) and finalizing class presentations. There are also a surprisingly high number of pre departure things to finish here: routine meetings, suspense responses, preparing students for my absence, etc. Office hours do not count while in Egypt. Actually, the whole thing has been amazingly smooth. Should get one more chat before leaving. For now - all is well

Friday, February 4, 2011

Feb 4

Well, here we sit in Alabama. Internet is up and flights are canceled. I have rebooked on Delta for Feb 22. Hoping things will have quieted down. The Suez Canal University is closed due to the unrest so there is no point in being there as there are no classes. It remains frustrating. 3,000 people took to the streets in Suez Canal City yesterday. Smaller gathering than in Cairo but Suez City is a smaller city. The percentage must be about the same. My friends there (Suez City) are very optomistic and as of yesterday felt quite secure. Am keeping up with the State Department as well as folks on the ground in Egypt. It is a painful time for all. Will keep you posted as the intended departure date gets closer.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Jan 30

Still at work (Auburn). It is amazing how work expands to the time alloted. Decision to travel is still pending. I have daily telephonic (land line) contact with friends in Egypt. American Embassy has issued travel advisory and is encouraging Americans in Egypt to leave. The current unrest has no "anti-American" focus, but there are gangs of discontents robbing, houses, stores and threatening people on the streets. The police force is completely in effective, the Army is really not engaging the civil unrest, so until that subsides Egypt is generally not safe.

The University there has yet to close and that is encouraging. A decision to leave for Egypt will be made in the future. As of today, it is not the best of ideas. Maria and I have experience with civil unrest (Panama, Iran, Pakistan)and have decided to remain here for a while (as much as I dislike missing an opportunity to observe history first hand).
Will keep you posted as circumstances change.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

two weeks left

Welcome to the first posting on a new blog which will (eventually) reflect my teaching assignment and travels in Egypt. I have been asked to join the faculty of the Suez Canal University in Suez City a short distance outside of Cairo. This is not my first visit there. At this pont most of my efforts are expended on travel preparation. The Auburn University requirements are very straight forward, things like shots and documents. Travel advisories are also simple and easy to find. Personal stuff like a 3 mos supply of medications, new glasses, light weight clothing, books, reference materials and computer, all seem to run together. So far- so good. This is just an initial posting. Should have more (and better) information as this trip progresses.
for now