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Week of November 9

 

November 9

 

Guitar Festival and Felfela

 

Tonight, after working all day at home, I met Amani my Arabic tutor at the AUC Tahrir campus at the old Falaki Building for Arabic lessons—we covered “the family”. I then ate dinner at Felfela off of Talat-Harb Street in downtown, and then went back to AUC downtown at Oriental Hall and listened to a concert of David Pavolvits, a Hungarian composer-guitarist. I then walked down Talet-Harb Street to Felfela’s restaurant and had my usual Foul and Tamia dinner, while reading my Intro sociology book for the next lecture.

 

 

 

November 10

 

SAPE Faculty Meeting and American Studies Video Conference

 

We had a faculty meeting today at AUC in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology. When the whole department meets, there are still only about 30 people around the large conference table. Often, we only meet as Sociology and Anthropology program meetings. The chair of the whole department is Helen Rizzo, the women who I talked to for two summers in preparation for applying for the Fulbright. The head of sociology is Nazek Nossier, the woman I met last summer (2008) and who eventually wrote the letter of support that I uploaded to Fulbright the day we left for our Nebraska/Missouri vacation. In some ways, the department is very disorganized. They are trying to establish a Coptic Studies concentration or diploma (different from a major), and so are trying to figure out how to incorporate the Coptic into SAPE. The graduate sociology major (MA) does not require a statistics course, although they do have a Research Methods class (probably an artifact of sociology and anthropology being tied so closely—no Anthropologist would want to take statistics. There is also the problem of the language requirement—all MA students in soc/anth must have Arabic of some form for a language requirement. The thinking has been that students need it to engage in field work in Egypt. But, there is not standard process of testing, no required score for the Arabic exam, no consistency of whether Fusha (Modern Standard Arabic) or Ameia (Egyptian dialect Arabic) is tested, and no consistency of who administers the test (up until this point, it has been the MA thesis director, even if they don’t speak Arabic). Anyway, I would have thought that these issues would have been decided long ago, but apparently not. It may also reflect the issue of with the move last year to the new campus, all programs are undergoing a reflexive process to see who they want to be at AUC attempts to become a “world-class university.” SAPE is struggling in that respect.

 

This afternoon, I helped set up for the American Studies “Global Dialog” video conference between students at AUC and students at Georgetown University in Doha, Qatar and Fordham and Columbia Universities in New York. Several of my students from the Intro to Sociology came to the video conference and participated by making comments or asking students at other campuses questions. The conference was sponsored by the Levin Institute in New York and chaired by former CNN anchor Garreck Utley. I was also at the table and Jerry Leach, who was moderating our AUC end, unexpectedly introduced me and asked my opinion about some aspect of the discussion. The whole conference was predicated around the Cairo University speech by President Barack Obama this past June, 2009. They showed clips, and then asked the students to comment on the issues of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestinian-Israeli conflicts. Most students were unsure of the direction to go to ensure Middle East peace, but all agreed that the US should do more, and Arab countries should also clean up their own act and do more as well. The conference went almost an hour past its 1.5 hour limit because of the great discussion, and it may be edited down into a ½ hour or hour documentary on PBS.

 

 

November 11

 

Katie’s birthday. I Skyped her this afternoon from my AUC office and we talked nearly 1.5 hours. It was nice to talk with her without the girls jumping around.

 

 

November 12

 

After working at AUC all day, I met Amani Assem, my Arabic tutor, at the Tahrir AUC campus in the courtyard of the old Falaki Building (where Dr. Helen Rizzo had her office 2 years ago when I came to beg her for a letter of support for my Fulbright application). Amani is a fantastic tutor, and also very knowledgeable about Islamic philosophy, practice, and Qur’anic interpretation. She has worked as a translator for websites that explain Islamic concepts to Western Muslims in English. We frequently discuss Islam before getting to the tutoring. We either meet at Creperie Des Arts café on Misr-Helwan Road in Maadi, or at AUC campus. We have also met at the Metro on Misr-Helwan Road to learn fruits and vegetables (bitingen!). On this day we met at the Falaki Building at downtown AUC and discussed Days of the Week/Month. She then had to teach an English class to Arabic speakers, and I walked down Talat-Harb Street to have dinner at Café Riche, overlooking Talat-Harb Midan. I took the train back to Maadi around 9pm. I then went to the Opera House to see if I could attend a showing of a film at the Cairo International Film Festival, but instead of finding a screening, they were set up to interview some Egyptian film celebrities on Egyptian TV. I watched the interviews for while, but then walked over to the Museum of Egyptian Modern Art (there in the same Opera House complex) and paid the 10LE to get in. For an Egyptian museum, it was pretty well-maintained. My favorite piece was a paining by _____ of Sufi Whirling Dervishes.

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