Hello once again, class! Thanks for your great questions, I look forward to hearing more. They gave me some good ideas for blog posts in the future!
First, a video!
A week and a half ago I went on a school field trip to the Red Sea on the east coast of Egypt, about 90 minutes from Cairo. You might know it as the sea that Moses parted in the Old Testament.
It is also known for beautiful coral reefs and stark desert mountains surrounding it in the north. Breathing air that wasn’t heavy with smog felt really great, and the water was a perfect swimming temperature. There were no reefs in our area, but I hope to go back and do some snorkling in a different area of the coast.
Also planned during the trip was a visit to the Coptic Christian Monastery of St. Anthony, built in the 4th century. It is a beautiful place deep in the desert at the foot of some mountains. Within the walls it has some gardens and the place relies on an ancient spring bubbling up out of a cave for its water. Coptic Christianity is a fascinating part of Egypt, as about 10% of the population here is Christian, with the rest being Muslim. Egypt was a Christian country from the 4th to 6th century before Islam was founded and spread rapidly around the Middle East. So I will sometimes meet Christians in Cairo who refer to themselves as Egyptians, not Arabs. After all, the word Coptic just means “People of Egypt” in the Coptic language, which is directly related to the hieroglyphic language of the Ancient Egyptians. However, Coptics speak Arabic now, except during some Christian ceremonies. The question of the ethnicity of Egypt is an interesting one that I hope to learn more about and hopefully write a blog post on!
We were supposed to be at the Red Sea for only one night, but a couple things happened that delayed us. The first was a truck carrying gasoline crashed about a mile down the road from us – our only road back to Cairo! This happened while most of us were at the Monastery, but a friend got this photo. Needless to say, we were stuck at the Red Sea for one more day. Another reminder that the most dangerous part of living in Cairo is just driving on the road.
But we may as well have stayed at the Red Sea all week! When we were on this trip, the students at my university were striking, which means they had stopped attending class because they wanted to protest how much the university costs. It has been a controversial protest, and the most controversial part was when the students physically locked the gates surrounding the university in order to shut down classes. The plan worked and classes were cancelled for about 10 days altogether. Late last night, however, it was announced that an agreement had been reached between the students and the university administration and classes will be starting again on Wednesday. However, since I’m in a small program that studies only Arabic, we were still able to meet in a different building and kept our classes going. Imagine going to all of your classes while all your friends hang out all day!
Okay, thanks for reading! People tell me it is fall in Portland, which is hard to imagine since it will be 90 degrees all week here. But fall is my favorite season, so enjoy it for me!