It’s Back to School Again العودة الى المدرسة مرة أخرى

Its back to the classroom once again as classes and the copious amounts of vocabulary review, reading and writing that they require kicked off this week. After all, as much as I hate to admit it I have not returned to Egypt as an independent journalist covering the various economic, political and social developments of the revolution. Instead, my job is to study the beautiful yet frustrating language known as Arabic and hopefully reach a proficiency that allows me to advertise a fluency in the language during the imminent job search. (Although, for the sake of full disclosure I must admit that the political transition features prominently in all by discussion with Egyptians and is the source of much of my excitement.) It’s a hard life really.

The trappings of this enjoyable academic exercise commenced this past Sunday and Monday with orientations at both the Tahrir and New Cairo campuses of the American University in Cairo. After completing the usual procedures of registration, discussing the medical and psychological resources available and enduring a series of “Welcome to Egypt” speeches, we waited with baited breath for the presentation of the emergency action plan. Given that our classes our located next to Medan Tahrir (the large traffic circle that dominated the media coverage during the end of January and beginning of February), the CASA program was required to develop an emergency action plan to secure its Department of Education funding. We waited in vein, however. Such an emergency action plan was not presented; instead after being handed a phone-tree, we learned how to put out fires and the locations of the fire-escapes. At that moment, I recognized that I had returned to Egypt and its quirky logic. Its not that I fear protests (in fact I hope to watch/attend a couple); however given the uncertain and potentially unstable political future, it would have been nice to at least a general idea on the proper course of behavior if the situation takes a turn for the worse.

Tuesday brought the first day of class and my return to academia after a breathe hiatus. After some initial technological problems, I’ve enjoyed returning to my Arabic obsession and being humbled by the intellects and linguistic knowledge of my peers. The CASA Fellows are an impressive bunch of mostly Doctorate and Masters students with interesting and nuanced stories that I hope can provided inspiration for future graduate studies and career options.

In other news, I’m still living out of my bags so my return to Alexandria will have to wait until next weekend. Thankfully, the renovations on the apartment ought to be done by Monday thereby allowing my to finally settle down and begin to get to know Cairo.


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