Update from Cairo

First of all, I have to say that living in Cairo is an entirely different experience from living in a smaller town/village in Upper Egypt. So far the move has been extremely interesting, and has opened my eyes to the diversity of cultures and opinions and ideologies of Egyptians. It has also made me realize how limited my perspective on Egypt and Egyptian culture was while living where I was. Don’t get me wrong, I think my initial experience was a very accurate one, and gave me an inroad into the lives of the majority of Egyptians. It was an experience which most foreigners living in Egypt don’t get to experience, which is unfortunate especially if they are working in the development world. Obviously it’s important to have a good understanding of the people you are working with, and that understanding isn’t fully possible simply from reading books or reports or from hearing people talk about it. Not to say that I now have a good understanding of the people I’m working with from living in Egypt for one year, but I think it was an excellent foundation. Anyway, back to my point, Egypt truly does not have a monoculture, which is also a good lesson to learn while living and working in a country.

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Sports, Weddings and Language Experiences

pyramidsLast weekend I had a trip scheduled to go back to Cairo because one of my friends was getting engaged to an Egyptian woman. Another development also came up which for me was a wonderful opportunity. Egypt was the host nation of the under-20 year old World Cup Football tournament. It just so happened that the championship game and the third and fourth place game were going to be held at the Cairo stadium the day before the engagement party, and one of my friends could get fairly cheap tickets. So I decided to make the trek up to Cairo a day early to watch the game. Neither of the games were very exciting at all, which was disappointing. But it was a great experience being a part of the crowd. The stadium was packed, obviously, and when we had gone 75 minutes into the game (Brazil was playing Ghana in the finals) and neither team had really even had any good chances at scoring, much less actually scored a goal, the entire stadium decided to start cheering for Egypt. So that was probably the most exciting part of the game was 65,000 people doing their standard Egypt cheers. It made me wish that Egypt was actually in the finals. Ghana ended up winning in penalty kicks by the way … after 120 minutes with nothing remarkable happening in the game.

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