My day began with my 6th graders jotting down the answer to “what you fear the most.” While many students opted for the dark, many more wrote God first, followed by anything from clowns to street dogs. This fueled an interesting discussion. My day barreled forth, ending with some disgruntled seventh graders, a brief conversation with my department head, and a totally disorganized bus ride to the University campus with the Model UN students.
A few weeks back, I agreed to chaperone Model UN with another teacher. Our school, being new and lacking proper communication, got most of its stuff together for the conference, but today we found a few glitches that were left unattended. Apparently the kids could register online, but needed to turn in permission slips by Wednesday in order to participate. Those who did not turn in slips were told they could not go and represent the school; however, the college where MUN is being held still allowed students to register today, and so some students showed up on their own accord and did their thing. This was a huge problem, we were told later, despite the fact that the students came on their own and we were not responsible for them.
A and I were not permitted in the registration room or the orientation, as both events were targeted toward the students and did not involve the teachers. Lucky for me, I got to spent over an hour listening to A’s account of the revolution. I finally got to hear an informed perspective from someone with spectacular insights to the many contributing factors of the revolution. A was a political science major and had hoped to go into politics, but she didn’t want to work her way up using connections and relying on knowing important people. Ethics do not a good politician make. So she went into teaching instead, but she’s still very knowledgeable and well-read when it comes to weighing in on political decisions and the climate in Egypt. She was fascinating to talk to, and had a lot to say.
After this, we received a distressing phone call from one of our bosses about the students who showed up and registered on their own, and A and I both felt stressed afterwards. While she chatted to our superior, I spotted my rugby coach (he teaches Rhetoric and Composition at the University, but I didn’t think I’d see him) and went over to chat. He is going to give me the e-mails of his department heads to let them know I exist (and have a Masters in Rhet Comp!) and offered to introduce me, only I won’t be there at an opportune time to meet anyone. I don’t even know if I’m supposed to be there at all this week.
Stressed and unable to run (missing training again, 2nd week in a row), I devoured pretzels and sat next to A looking at all the palm trees and the little ground fountains and spotting the moon through palm fronds. It’s hard to feel stressed when you’re in a place like this. For a few moments I felt totally at ease. The way I see it, there’s nothing I can do about it, and if there’s nothing you can do, there’s no point in worrying. Then the MUN dance party commenced with Sting’s “Desert Rose” (a popular song, it seems) blaring over the speakers, which really just set the scene for me if the palm trees hadn’t done it before.
My peaceful mood was broken when we marched the kids out to the buses to go home and A told me that our director had called and said protests were going on downtown and to “be careful.” I’m not sure what being careful entails, exactly, aside from not strolling down to join the protesters. After a decent bus ride – with my driver being so thoughtful as to bring me to my road – I entered the apartment to vent with my roommate (it really was a long day) and read the news. Apparently some Coptic Christians were protesting by Tahrir and the protest escalated. BBC reports 17 dead; there were petrol bombs and shooting involved.
Again, I feel numb to all of this. It just seems normal. I told A earlier how I feel like we live in a bubble here, and all that’s going on in Cairo is somewhere else. It was interesting to read about the Coptic protest, because A had just told me about how impressive and wonderful it was to see Christians and Muslims uniting for a common goal during the Revolution, and how that all fizzled after change began to ensue. It really is unfortunate.
So now I’m stuffing my face with Digestive Biscuits, as they’re called (it says on the box “Goodness of Wheat” so I guess they’re healthy), and wishing I could go for a run.
It’s very hard for me to convey how un-fun it is to not be able to run. I’m not even that stressed, I just have so much energy and so much desire to take off for a few miles and sweat and just go. It’s not possible when a, it’s night, b, there are violent protests, c, there is nowhere to run unless you want to get hit by a car, and d, the Wadi is so isolated. I don’t want to run there alone without pepper spray. And even that won’t help when the roving packs of dogs come.
I think the main idea of this post here is that I need to run. Badly. And for a significant amount of time.
Helpful hint to the roving dogs…at least it worked for friends in Thailand. Stand your ground…speak in a loud authoritative voice and tell them to go away. It worked for me with that bear I ran into on my camping trip. Would love to hear more about your friends insights on the revolutions. You need to find more locals to hang out with. Those ex-pat Brits and paddys sound fun but I need more Egyptian insights =)