So it’s about midnight on Sunday night before I leave. Dad and I get to wake up bright and early at 6am to make it to the airport for my 9am flight. Then it’s off to JFK where I get to wait for a few hours. Finally, at about 4:30pm I will be off American soil and on my way to Egyptian soil.
I must say that, for someone going abroad for two months, I don’t think I took as much time packing as most people. I have spent only one evening packing, most of which is waiting for laundry to finish. I’ve noticed as I pack that I haven’t packed much more than I would have to go on a ten-day trip. The main difference between the ten-day and two-month trips being the gobs of textbooks in my carry-on luggage.
While I have the time now (I’m still waiting on laundry), I think I will give a little description on the program I’m participating in, what I anticipate to do in Cairo, and my general expectations of the summer.
I am taking part in DukeEngage, which is a new program for undergrads at Duke to do community service locally (in Durham and the Triangle area), nationally, and internationally. It’s funded jointly by the Duke Endowment and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This summer there are about 350 Duke students travelling and serving all over the world. One of the best parts about the program is that it’s completely paid for, with no costs to the participating students. Feel free to check out the program’s website for more information about DukeEngage: http://www.dukeengage.duke.edu
I am participating in the DukeEngage in Cairo program, formally known as DukeEngage in Yemen. Originally, ten of us students were slated to head to Sana’a, Yemen for the summer to work with non-governmental organizations and take Arabic classes at the Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies. However, due to some political events in Yemen (read: violence towards Westerners), the people in charge at DukeEngage decided to change our locale to Cairo, Egypt. Thus, we will be doing pretty much the same thing in Cairo: working with refugees and taking Arabic classes.
I am excited to head back to Cairo for a more extended time. I was in Cairo for a week in March on a class trip. On that trip we had a great time doing the tourist thing and attending lectures in Cairo. This time, I hope to get a more local flavor and better since of day-to-day life in Cairo and travel all over Egypt (and maybe some other countries)!