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AUC Orientation Week

5 September 2009

 This past week has been hectic and frustrating. I sill have no AUC ID, so I can’t get into my office. I have no office computer or printer. My books have not arrived from the Fulbright office. Getting internet connection at home is a difficult and confusing process.

 But it has been a great week meeting new people and getting to know American University in Cairo. We had an orientation from Sunday through Wednesday this past week. There are lots of exciting opportunities at AUC, although it is a little different because I am not hired as a full-time tenure track faculty.

 I have also had dinner with several couples since I have been here. Nate in the Philosophy Dept. invited me out for a “beer” at the Maadi House early in the week. The Maadi House is run by the American Embassy and is entirely for Americans who work in the diplomatic corp or are affiliated with AUC. It costs $600 to join for a family for a year. Maybe we’ll join when Katie and the girls get here. After hanging out for a while we went to his house so I could see where he lived. They live on Road 206 in Maadi in a building that is owned by AUC, so all tenants are AUC faculty. It turned out that they were having a couple over that night, so Eden invited me to stay for spaghetti. I met Jennifer and Ken Davis. Both couples have 2 kids each, all of whom attend Cairo American College (CAC), and Nate/Eden’s daughter is in 6th grade and told me how much Ivy will like it when she comes in the spring.

 Scott Hibbert (another Fulbrighter from Drury University in Chicago in Political Science who I met in Washington DC) and Glenn Williams (a new hire in Finance at AUC who we’ve been hanging with throughout the orientation) and I went out to Vittorio’s on Road 216 in Maadi one night. It is an Italian restaurant, and we talked about US/Egypt differences, as well as Egypt’s colonial heritage and its impact on current Egyptian politics. I had gone to Vittorio’s by myself the night before, and also been to the Green Mill on Road 213 by myself one night.

 Most nights I have walked down to Road 233 to an Internet Café to check my email and one night I Skyped with Katie and the girls. I could see them with their camera on, but they could not see me (Skype installed on the café computer, but sound only). It was so nice to see the girls and Katie too and not just hear their voice. Sounds like the girls are adjusting to their new schedule in 3rd and 6th grade. One night I even uploaded some pictures I took of the neighborhood with the new camera saved to a flash drive, and put them on my blog. I have not been as regular as I had hoped since I have very spotty access to the internet as of yet.

 On Thursday, I was to meet Scott at the Maadi Metro station and go to Dokki to the Fulbright office to get our first payment, hopefully our books would be there, and just make contact with Fulbright. I missed Scott, so I took the train by myself. Once in Dokki, I had to flag down 5 cabs before one knew where 21 Amr Street was! I didn’t end up getting my first check (since there is a problem with my Fulbright contract since Katie and the girls will not be coming until ½ way through the time in Egypt), but I watched Scott set up his bank account at HSBC next door. We took the train back to Maadi and ate fuul (beans) and tamini (crushed and fried chick peas) for lunch—a real authentic Egyptian meal. We both ate for 37 pounds (about $3.50 each)!! That night, Glenn and Scott and I met at the Maadi Metro station and traveled up to Tahrir Square (very center of Cairo) and met some other AUC faculty from the history and political science departments and walked through this rabbit-warren of streets to a hotel, then up to the 10th floor where we ate and drank and had a great conversation about Egypt and AUC with a spectacular view of downtown Cairo. When we took the train up, it was nearly empty because of Ramadan and the fast about to end. When we went home about midnight, the streets were literally teeming with families and people out for post-Iftar socializing. The traffic was crazy, and the train was packed on the way back to Maadi.

 On Friday, AUC newcomers were invited to an Iftar up in town on faluka rides in the Nile. We took a bus from our normal stop up to the old AUC campus, had a short session on staying healthy in Cairo, and then to the Nile and about 5 falukas. Great meal as we watched the sun go down over the Nile and downtown hotels/govt buildings.

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