I’m back from my long absence and all you faithful blog friends of mine deserve a lengthy entry that you’re probably not going to get. I don’t know how to relate my travels so I will give a quick recap now and integrate that as it comes up–otherwise you’ll have to see pictures and hear stories upon my return Stateside.
While we were in Istanbul, another bomb went off in Lebanon and our plans changed quite a bit. We spent two weeks in Turkey instead of the expected one and ended up doing a tour of the Churches of Revelation. Next we moved on to Syria and then the Jordan. The Dead Sea is cool. Reading on a bus makes me sick. We stayed at 15 hotels in 21 days. Andrew, wrote more about all this read his site (andrewulasich.blogspot.com).
So last weekend when we got back I wrote 5 essays in one day and then I wanted to gouge my eye out. Once again I have renounced procrastination and have vowed to do better in the future. That excuriating day marked the end of our Peoples and Cultures Course and the beginning of Conflict and Change. The main part of Conflict and Change is the peace summit that we will be having in Cairo. I am now Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian human rights activist. Half of us are Palestinians and half of us are Israelis. For the next week we research like crazy and then we debate. We have decided that we are probably going to solve all the problems over there and then MESP will be famous. Or probably not. Anyway, its interesting, enlightening, and challenging. Studying this conflict is about so much more than the Middle East. It is a story of the human condition. I have been asked not to remove myself from this history, but to enter in. To view it from the ground. The more I do that the more I come to understand that they are us and we are them.
The past three days Abuna Elias Chacour (Abuna is the Arabic word for “father” within the context of the church) has been with us. He is a Palestinian priest who lives in Israel (author of Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land–read them ASAP). He talked to us about the conflict, but mostly we just talked about life. Abuna Chacour is a man of peace, love and hope and when he looked around the room told us he loved us and that we were so beautiful to him I actually believed him. Usually, I hate it when speakers say that kind of thing. He said a lot of things about Christianity and faith that made me uncomfortable. Looking at the Eastern Church tradition has opened my eyes to many questions.
The other day I visited my Great Aunt and Uncle Leila and Fouad with my grandparents and Aunt Amani in Zamalek. My crazy Great Uncle Soupi also joined us. It is such a strange feeling for me–getting to know my extended family independent of my parents. Tunt Leila filled me in on a little history of the Ghali family. I served tea in Arabic and learned a few more vocab words. I also won a great victory when I finally convinced the ladies to sit down and let me do the dishes–I’m learning to play the game; I’ve become increasingly stubborn. I haven’t been able to win this victory at my grandparents house yet, but today I received a promise that next time I would be allowed to do the dishes. And believe me I won’t forget. This must sound ridiculous to you, I don’t know how to explain it–I mean why its so important to me. Maybe its an Egyptian thing. That afternoon I was so thankful that I am here in Egypt–its times like that for which I came. I just ended up getting a whole lot more I suppose. Uncle Soupi drove me home. I only thought I was going to die a few times. He insisted I pay him with a kiss on the cheek and then insisted on waiting on the street until I waved at him from my balcony. He also interrogated me regarding our security here in Egypt–what can you expect from a retired police general?
More to come. I’ll keep you updated about the debates and whatnot. I think I’ll win.
Oh yeah, and although I’ll be here a while longer, my program will be over in just a short couple of weeks. Stop sending letters, postcards, and small treasures to the address you have. I’ll post my g-rents address as soon as I get my act together and remember to bring it when I’m at the internet. In the interim I think bhanson has it.
Time to fly. I’m out.