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Cairo, Egypt

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Visit to Cairo University

On Saturday, Oct. 10 the Fulbrighters met at Cairo University, at the Metro stop gate, to get a tour of Cairo University library and learn about its scholarly facilities. I rode up on the Metro with Scott and Sussan. We waited for Noha El-Gindi who works at the Fulbright office to help us get into the gate at Cairo University. There were about 15 of us Fulbrighters. We were escorted to the new Central Library of CU—recently built in 2008 with vaguely Phaeronic architecture. The director of the library gave us a powerpoint presentation about all the scholarly resources available not only at CU, but at Dar El-Kotob, the National Research Library and Archives, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and other web resources. One of the Fulbright students had been to the National Library and Archives, which has a full collection of English-language newspapers, and I asked her how easy is it to search the archives (I am wanting to search for interfaith dialog stories). She said there is no web interface—you ask for a date or range of dates, and they bring you hundreds of copies of dusty newsprint that you have to search through. Not practical for me. I’ll have to try to pinpoint date to search for interfaith and Friends data here in Egypt.

After the talk, we got a tour of the library. True to Egypt, although they have beautiful facilities, no one can check out books yet! Their computer system to circulate books is not yet functioning. So, it is of limited use for us, although there are databases that we can access only by being at the library.

Then we saw a diorama display of the history of CU—from the first honorary doctorate given to President Theodore Roosevelt, to the concerts given by Um Kalthum, to the “Obama Hall” where President Barack Obama gave his June 2009 Cairo speech. We finished the tour of the library by seeing the library museum, which had several French and Arabic manuscripts, artifacts, and pictures.

Most of us Fulbrighters decided to go out to lunch afterward. We took the train to Dokki stop, and walked down the rabbit-warren of side streets off Tahrir Street to “Maatam Yemeni” or the Yemen Restaurant. That was some of the best food I’ve ever had!! They brought out a mixed selection of bowls of beans, chopped meat, and salte, or mixed vegetables with meat, and mandi, or chicken with rice, along with manhole-sized pieces of flat bread. We ate group style, where you rip off a section of flat bread and dip it in the bowl of beans or rice or meat. Amazing food! Some of the traditional Yemeni men (it was all men, interestingly enough, all wearing white robes, head dress, and suit jackets!) were completely eating with their hands—I used my spoon some of the time.

Here are some pictures from the Fulbright group’s recent visit to Cairo University Library:

Fulbright Scholars and students at Cairo University Library

Fulbright Scholars and students at Cairo University Library

Fulbrighters listening to Cairo University's Library resources

Fulbrighters listening to Cairo University's Library resources

Here is the main train station outside the gate of Cairo University:

Cairo University Metro gate

Cairo University Metro gate

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