About My Blog

I Spent six weeks in Egypt before spending a year in Germany. This blog covers the best summer of my life. If you are looking for my posts while I was in Germany ask me, and I'll be happy to share them but I have been asked not to share them publicly. Feel free to visit my brothers blog of his year in Germany or my new blog

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Shout Out

Two summers ago while I was in South Korea I met some really awesome people.  One of these people was Lauren, we have stayed in touch since then and she is doing a GAP year like me except way cooler.  She is doing her GAP year through Thinking Beyond Borders, a year long program with stops in various countries around the world where the participants learn about various things and also do their part to make this world a better place.

If you like my blog for one reason or another then you will love hers.  Her descriptions are perfect, her vocabulary is huge, and her ideas are amazing.  I was just reading over it and I must say that I am quite jealous of the way she writes.  Give it a peak, you wont be let down.... http://laurenhonican.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 27, 2010


By the Way:

I've finalized my college list.

Applied to:

University of Minnesota

Applying to:

University of Oregon
Penn State 
University of Toronto

Sunday, September 19, 2010

24 Hours until Germany

In a little less than 24 hours i will be landing in Hamburg, Germany. My grandmother will be picking me up at the airport and we will go back to her house where hopefully i will be able to catch up on some sleep before meeting up with jonah. Who knows maybe he will even take a picture of me for his blog! You may be asking yourself, just as i am, why i am up at 3:51 AM the morning of my flight. Well there are a few reasons not all of which are reasonable or well thought out but others, i think, are perfect.

I think i have jet lag figured out. If i set myself to the new time zone before i arrive there, i shouldnt feel the effects of jet lag as much right? So i stay up all night and then tomorrow around 4 or 5 when i board my plane from newark to hamburg hopefully i will be falling asleep. The local time will be 5 but the german time will be 10 or eleven, the perfect bed time. I wont get great sleep on the plane, so a small nap will be in order but i should be good for the rest of the day. Insha'allah!

Since my last post i have managed to pack and my bag weighs about 50 pounds. This is the heaviest suitcase i have ever packed but its for a whole year. Seeing as somebody brought two 50 pound bags for a month in egypt i think that my extremely large bag is okay.

Im not nervous about leaving or living there but this is the first time that i can ever remember trying to visualize germany before i actually arrive. I can see the streets of hamburg and berlin in my mind, with the fernsehturm, the michael, and the other churches sprawled across the hamburg skyline as well as the lines in the berlin roads marking the path of the wall. I think that this mental preparation or visualisation is a comfort thing. In the past i have gone but only for a month, and i had control of exactly what i saw and did (unless my mom drags us to some famous monument). This time though everything will be new to me and i wont be in control. The visualisation is weird because im picturing the parts of germany that are familiar to me, im not trying to imagine the place i will be staying. My thoughts and concentration on the scene of germany is almost stressful as i strain to remember tiny details and feelings about various locations. The other strange thing is that even though it is still late summer/early fall i can only visualize a cold fall afternoon bundled up in a jacket wearing a hat and a scarf as i walk down the hamburg streets. This image or feeling is so real that im even wearing my jacket on the plane later. I would probably only take a sweater otherwise. The past 4 years i have visited Germany purely as a tourist and a visitor, this time im going to live there. Ive done this before in the seventh grade when i lived there for half a year but never for this long. The length of time seems extremely long but it seems even longer when i think about how much i love Germany and how real the possibility is that i will stay there or be back for another long stay. Its weird to go back to live there for a second time because i never even thought i would go there once to live. Its even more weird to think that i could actually be more german than i think or feel that i am.

My mom keeps telling me that im going to come back even more german than i already am. The same was true last time i went. I dont remember how "american" i was going into that trip but i remember feeling very german coming back out of it. Since that trip i have been reformatted as an american by the social scene of highschool, sports, television, work etc. I know that I am very American but in the last few weeks i have also felt more german than ever before. Not in my behavior, or style, or culture but just my feelings. I am german, and i always will be. Even leaving this country i will be an american (even with my american passport) but once im on the plane from newark i can put away that passport and that life until i come back to the states sometime next summer. English will be around me, but it wont be me. American culture will be around me, but german culture will dominate. I will hear about american politics, but for a change i wont have to discuss politics with anyone. While im there i want to be german, as authentic as i can without putting on lederhosen or a dirndl, but what abut when i come back? I know that its too soon to think about that but still, have to. My biggest pet peeve about exchange students is when they come to america and refuse to adapt to our culture. They still wear their tight jeans, leather jackets, their hair long, and way too much gel. I know ill be going to germany with lots of american clothes but i want to be looking, feeling, and acting german quickly. Coming back though, i will have to read up on the latest in politics, download the top 10 songs on iTunes, and maybe look at a magazine to see what is "in" in america. Or i could come back with my lederhosen listening to a new Philip Poisel album and wearing a HSV scarf. Not to sound like some deep thinking person but what it all boils down to is conformity. I will go there, and i will conform. I will come back, and i will conform. Anybody does anything to fit in and they are conforming. I guess conforming is the least i can do because already by not going to college and going to germany instead i guess you could say im nonconforming.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ich bin bald da.

I leave in two days. So far I have:

1.Not packed
2.Had my last day of work
3.Failed my drivers license test
4.Gotten my laptop

Today im going to go to one last Schenley Soccer practice before I leave. Tonight, after practice im going to establish a packing list and if i have time go shopping to get the things that I still need. Im starting to get really excited but certain aspects of the last few days have been very sad (no, not failing my drivers test). My last day of work was fun but it felt weird that my 6 o'clock mornings and 10 hour work days were coming to an end and all of the familiar faces would soon be memories. I hope to go back to work when I come back and jokes are already spreading around the cafe how I will spend my life travelling but will always dedicate a few weeks or months a year to the Square Cafe. The square cafe has been great to me and I hope that they have enjoyed me as well. I spent two years working varying amounts of time per week or month but in the past month i have worked more than ever before there. Through this i have come to actually know the people i work with beyond their names and faces. The character of the cafe is fantastic and apparent to every customer, but as an employee it is even better. The peach cobbler and "for he's a jolly good fellow" sendoff were a bit embarrassing but still sweet.

Failing my drivers test was frustrating but im not overly upset. I have only been driving for a month and only tried parking 5-10 times before attempting to get my license. I parked perfectly when the instructor told me to back up a bit so that i could pull out forward more easily. When i did this a car drove by me so i checked my mirrors and turned on my blinkers, i pushed on the gas and VROOOOOM!!!! i went straight backwards. I had forgotten to shift into drive after she told me to back up. I tapped the gas only lightly and then hit the brakes, I didnt hit anything but the instructor was just as shocked as i was. "Always make sure you check what gear you are in!" she said, "I always tell my students to check the gear before they pull out or in" . Well lady! YOU DIDNT TELL ME TO CHECK! AND ITS YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT FOR MAKING ME BACK UP! And she continued: "If that had been a car and not cones it could have been very dangerous!" WELL LADY! IT WASNT A CAR! AND!!!!!!!!! I HIT THE BRAKES BEFORE I EVEN HIT THE CONES!!!!!! well, apparently that wasn't bad enough to fail because she let me do the rest of the test. We drove for 5 minutes but near the end she asked me to merge to the left. This is an easy maneuver for me, and one that I am used to making comfortably. I checked my mirrors for ten seconds to make sure no cars were coming up behind me. I blinked and merged left, and then came that nagging voice again "You didnt check your blind spot!" and then her incessant scribbling began. OOOOOOPS! I drove well and i made two mistakes that i have never made before and it happened to be with the woman who decided my fate as a driver in the car.

Tonight and tomorrow will be spent preparing and packing before my flight Sunday afternoon. Once in germany i will spend a day and a half with my grandmother and hopefully see my brother as well before heading to the family with whom i will be staying. Im looking forward to meeting them after a few weeks of emailing back and forth. My mother and brothers have already met them and they say that the family is wonderful. It will be a new experience for me for sure. I have always lived in a city both in the United Sates as well as in Germany and everywhere else. The house where i will be staying is 10 minutes from the nearest town which is 10 minutes from the nearest city which is one of the smaller cities in Germany. The family owns a farm with two horses and 20 sheep as well as some land but the land isn't used for farming as far as i know.

Also I will be adding my address as soon as i have it but if you want to email me or email me your address i will write back to you either in letter or email format, whichever you prefer. my email is: raether.jan@gmail.com

Sunday, September 12, 2010


As happens every year around this time, the exchange students from my moms program start to arrive. For the past two years we have hosted students, Di Xie from China, and Matas Ignativicius (i dont know how you spell it exactly). This year my brother decided he didnt want to have one. The decision was his because he will be the only kid at home. He would rather spend his time being an only child with a house to himself and all the space in world. I dont blame him, i would have taken the same opportunity as well. Despite not hosting for the whole year we have had a few exchange students spend between a few days and a week with us. I wish they had programs where you could do this for a whole year on a rotating basis and have a new kid every few weeks or months. The students who have stayed with us have all been amazing and have taught me a lot. Jonas from the Czech Republic was my age and he, tobias and I spent our week watching lost, playing video games, comparing music, and just hanging out. Before him Alina and Jovana spent time with us. Alina has been preparing me for Germany more than anybody else but i feel bad because it comes at the expense of her preparation for the US. Alina is from Germany and we only speak German so my german has improved drastically but it doesnt do much for her. I spoke German well before i met her but already i notice my grammar improving. In Germany I will be living with a family with younger kids than me so its nice to get the perspective of Germany from someone my own age. The best contribution from her has been the music she has told me about. I havent spent enough time in Germany to really get into German music or hear too much of it but Alina introduced me to her favorite artists and groups and im beginning to really enjoy it. I spend my bike rides, and walks to and from work listening to German Artists and the language I hear there is even more useful than the conversational language I use. More importantly, I feel a bit more german listening to it and i must say i almost like it more than american music. Hopefully the music also gives me something to talk about with the kids or other people my age while i am there.

Tommorow afternoon, my brother jonahs' host brother arrives, he is a few years younger than me but will also give me a chance to speak German with someone else before I go. I dont know how prepared I am for spending a year in germany but from a language standpoint i feel extremely comfortable. Its just too bad that that was one of my smallest worries. I have five more days of work, three dyas to pack, a few essays, a new laptop, and a drivers test between me and the flight to germany. Once im there ill spend a day and a half with my grandmother and hopefully my brother as wll and then i join the family with whom i'll be staying. The past few nights have been sleepless and restless because of excitement. I wish the day of my flight would arrive already.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

a new post

Its been a long time since i have last posted but its not because i have nothing to write about. The past few weeks have been really busy (go ahead mom laugh) so i havent been writing much. In the past 4 weeks i have been working 4 or 5 days a week as a cook at the square cafe and am averaging 9 hour work days. When i get home i do nothing but watch Lost, which sounds really really lame (it is). Recently though i have been trying to make better use of my time and part of that is also posting a new blog post. In the past few days and in the next week i hope to finalize the colleges i will be applying to, pack for germanym, say goodbye to the friends who are still in town, and help the schenley soccer team when and where i can.

I want to pause and talk about schenley soccer for a few minutes because the past few days i have been hanging out around my old team. For four years i played on the team and for three of those i rode the bench and played JV primarily. Im not a great player or goalie but watching the past two games makes me wish i still played. Each of my four years at schenley i feel that our talent level dropped. We always have had talented players but each year we had more and more players who wouldnt not have started in previous years. Admittedly i was one of those players, there are better goalies and there have been more talented players on our teams in years past. Once again this year i feel that the talent level has dropped off but there is something about schenley soccer that keeps it going and playing at a high level. Last year we strung together our best three games at the very end. Semi final win against Brashear, championship win against allderdice, and a playoff loss to Upper St. Clair. When we won champs i felt prouder of myself and prouder to be part of any other team. I dont want to detract from swimming or volleyball but swimming is too independent and in volleyball we are expected to win. The schenley dice soccer rivalry is by far the best i know. Our tiny cupples stadium with 200 fans for the championship match is the perfectplace in early november in freezing rain to play under the lights. For three years that night was frustrating, sitting on the bench in the coldd rain, being so close....and then losing. My last year i played in that game and it all changed for me. To play and to have in my control the feelings i would have at the end of the game was amazing. I want to say i played for myslef, i couldnt let four years of soccer end without winning but i was also playing for the freshman sophomores and juniors on the bench. I know what its like to sit on the bench and lose, to go three years and wonder if you will ever win a championship. None of those players have to worry about it anymore, they have their championship, they will hopefully win more, but they dont have to worry about leaving without one the way me and my fellow seniors did. Anyway after champs i knew i had another game but i knew it wouldnt be the same as dice. I almost wished we had ended with that win, the perfect storybook ending for the seniors but we had to play a playoff game. Having nothing to lose in that game made us play the best soccer of our lives for 70 minutes before they scoresd three goals in 10 minutes. That game is almost more memorable, how the smaller but still energetic crowd gave us a standing ovation at halftime for being TIED with one if the better teams in the state. We lost and the seniors left the game early to give the young kids their shot at playoffs and it was nice to walk off that way but that night in the lockerroom was when it hit me. I had played my last organised soccer game and we played magnificently. I forgot that feeling until tuesday when i saw schenley play. It was wierd to not be part of the team, and only a spectator. I'll always be a part of the schenley teams but not in the same way and its wierd and sad. But whats almost more sad is that ill never play organise soccer again, i dont have any misconceptions that im good enough to play in college but i wish i did. To go through the work leading up to a game and not just getting together some friends is kindof disappointing.

Anyway thats a long story dragged on but its been on my mind since tuesday. back on to my preparations. I work for a few more days which is going to be hard but worth it and nice to be with my coworkers who are all amazing. I have to decide on my colleges, begin the applications and write my college essays. I know it sounds early but i didnt everything rushed last year and i want to do better this year. Ill have time in germany but i want to have an idea before i go. I know ill be comfortable there but something about being there for so long makes me uneasy especially with the college process. Mail will take longer and has a higher chance of getting lost etc. Other than that i couldnt be happier to be going. I love pittsburgh but there isnt much here for me right now, my friends are who knows where, and all i do is work and sleep and think and im ready for change. Ill post hopefully once more before i leave but dont hold me to it. Ill be more regular once i get there...promise. Until then.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

much ado about nothing

There are events in each persons life which make them feel more mature. In the past two years the most significant of those events have been my trips to South Korea and Egypt. I've been thinking about this a lot because almost exactly a year ago today I left for South Korea. I had traveled without my family before but only in a controlled environment where at least I knew the language or some people I could go to in an emergency. Yesterday I talked to a friend of mine from the trip to South Korea and we talked about how we had changed. She thought I looked different and acted different and I realized almost immediately how different she acted from a year ago as well.

A year does a lot to change a person and I feel that in the past year I have grown and matured immensely. The problem is that looking back to South Korea, I feel that I was a little kid. I don't know why I feel this way because I had traveled more than most of the other students on the trip and I was one of the older students but compared to now, I was very young and immature. This feeling may be compounded by my brothers trip to South Korea this summer as well. When I think of him going there I think about how he will act and automatically think that that is how i acted as well. My brothers aren't young or extremely immature in my eyes, how can they be when they tower over me like they do? But I still know that I have more experiences under my belt than either of them, but thats also beginning to change. Jonah just came back from two weeks in Italy, is making friends faster than I did when I was there, and is living with a family he has known for only a few months. I can't say that I did that as a 15 year old. Tobias is going to South Korea at an age two years younger than I was when I went. The things he will see are probably the same things that I saw and will have the same effect on him only two years sooner.

Before my trip to Egypt, the trip to South Korea was the single greatest time when I came back home and realized how much I had grown and matured. I hope Tobias will have the same realization. People always tell me to travel while I can because its harder to do when you grow up, well I have one more year before college which seems like the beginning of the end of my traveling experiences. I know that I will study abroad in college but in all likelihood it will be someplace I have already been. My last real chance to travel and mature comes in a little over a month when I go to Germany for the year. I'm going to be working as an Au Pair from mid September to sometime in the spring when I hope to travel around Europe and then head back to America and prepare for college.

Taking a year off crossed my mind a lot throughout high school, my sister had done it and I knew other people who were doing it. When I got to my senior year I pretty much decided that I was ready for college and that I couldn't take a year in between. After powering through IB tests, being rejected by my top schools, talking to college students, family, and teachers, taking a year off seems like the best thing that could happen to me.

Coming back from Egypt I feel more mature than many 18 year olds I know. I feel this way partly because of the the things I have seen but also because my friends on the trip told me every day how much more mature I was than college students they knew and especially other people my age. Im glad that people see me this way because I pride myself in my character. I don't understand however why I'm "mature for my age". Why aren't more 18 year olds as "mature" as me? And if they are why dont they show it or why dont people see it. As I write this i feel very egotistical and immature as I commend myself but I dont know how else to bring it up and make the point I am trying to make. You may also be asking "what is the point you are trying to make?" and the answer is "I don't know exactly but its something like this...."

This fall I will be reapplying to schools from a foreign country and maybe even to schools in that country or countries around it. I will be living in the country with a family I have never met in person and hopefully being a part time student there. I will be travelling some and seeing my family there and my old friends hopefully. I know that come June, when I come back these experiences will make me even more mature. More importantly though, I'm thankful for my regular opportunity to travel and I try my best not to take it for granted. Hopefully a summer and fall of traveling, blogging, living, and experiencing will help me through the application process of college. I've done it before and i did a horrible job last time, I missed deadlines, ignored recommendations, and was generally laid back about it. Having gone through it already and having a whole year to grow and live will hopefully make it go more smoothly by increasing my focus. I realize now the importance of it which seemed to slip my mind last year. Thankfully I have this opportunity to take a year off and collect my thoughts and finally return and begin college. I haven't gone through it yet, but I already suggest it to all high schoolers and graduates. Lets see if my opinion is the same in June....

Friday, August 6, 2010

Reverse culture shock

I've been back in the states for a little over 48 hours and life here feels normal as it was before I left. I'm undergoing some reverse culture shock, I have a mental block between me and the tap, I think about whether my food was washed with Nile water, and I have to get used to not being stared at. That last one is probably the weirdest. Aside from our school in Cairo we were the extreme minority. Europe is not as diverse as America but it is vastly more diverse than Egypt or other middle eastern countries I'm assuming. In egypt everyone stares at the white people. THe same was true in south Korea last summer but in Egypt they say "hello" or "welcome to Egypt". Coming back and walking around I fit in, I am the majority, I don't feel differen from anyone else and it's weird. The water and food are a big issue too bi know that the food here is safer than the food in Egypt, the long term effects of the American diet may be worse but inthe short term American cooking is much better as it rarely causes stomach issues. In Egypt we asked at every restaurant where they got their fish and vegetables and if "the Nile" was a response to either of those we wouldn't there. I had salad and chicken yesterday and wanted to eat in moderation because I was worried about my stomach but why? The food here wasn't washed in the Nile water but my mind is already wired to be careful of all food. On the flight back we all said what we wanted to first upon returning home. Some of us had elaborate plans which included driving, eating cheeseburgers, etc. But mine was to drink a glass of water from the tap and then a glass of milk. Both of which I hadn't had since june 25th. The water was great and so was the milk but the absence of milk from my diet made me a little sick a little after having it for the first time in a month while in Egypt. There are numerous other shocks I have gone through like the lack of change in news, being able to read full speed, overhearing and understanding conversations, and getting the news whenever I want it. I've never been shocked like this when returning from another country. Europe is too similar and south korea was too short and the others were just blips in time. The odd thing is that I'm culture shocked here but for the first time ever I came home and I didn't feel like Everything was strange. That sounds wierd I know but usually when I come home I feel hat everything is strange despite no being culture shocked. His time I'm shocked by everything but for instance the drive back from he airport felt like any other drive back from the airport. In a few more days it should be good though

I will add now that I will still be posting while in the US however with decreasing focus on Egypt and increasing focus on America and my upcoming trip to Germany hopefully. Also my posts will become more sporadic but do check back occasionally. Also I will notify you somehow that I posted again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beyond Egypt

Finally.... ALL of my pictures in one place for anyone and everyone to see. Enjoy and feel free to comment or ask questions.

I expected more from you America

I'm not home yet but I'm on American soil. I haven't been on the
ground for 4 hours and I already am frustrated by everything here.
Call it reverse culture shock, lack of patriotism, being European, or
just sleepless but I'm frustrated. I ended my last post with
"something is seriously up with this country" in reference to Egypt
well something is seriously up win this country. Rude airport
employees and TSA agents feel entitled to do what they want and say
what they want. People don't smile or even say "welcome to the US". I
heard "welcome to Egypt" twenty minutes before leaving from the Cairo
airport. I don't know if we consider ourselves to be a friendly
population but we aren't. Egyptians live under a dictatorship and
have horrible wages and standard of living but they still are the
happiest people I know. Strangers ask your name where your from why
you're here etc. The foreigners in America are barely respected
enough to be welcomed. It's no wonder our diplomatic relations with
other countries are bad when the customs officers are admittedly the
"face or our borders" and cannot treat anyone with anything close to
human respect. Underneath their boothes are the list of things they
promise to do including greetings, respectful manner, helpful advice
etc, it's a shame that those are posted because none of those have
ever happened to me here. And random selection my ass, the Egyptians
on our flight despite carrying American passports or greencards were
still questioned 3 to 4 times as much as any white American was.
Women in the hijab were pulled to the side for an extra pat down.
Arab women say that women here have no rights, if i was coming to the
US and they gave me a lengthy touchy pat down I would feel the same way.

Economically and and technologically speaking the US is not a third
world country but geez we are probably the least friendly people in
the world. The culture shock is infuriating and makes it impossible
for a foreigner to adapt let alone want to stay here. How you did it
mom I have no idea. I left for Egypt a little over a month ago and on
the tv in line to board was CNN talking about Brett favre and the bp
oil spill and now as I sit here waiting to board my flight to
Pittsburgh what do I see on the screen but that same purple jersey and
that infamous live video feed of the oil spill. Does nothing happen
in this country or why do we cling to the same news for more than a
month. Has anything but a cd or movie release happened here since I
left? Trust me I'm a patriot (as wierd as that feels to write, it's
true), and I call myself an American but sometimes I wish that I could
be all of that without associating myself with the America I see now.
I'm in the airport and I'm homesick but the problem is I don't know if
I'm homesick for Pittsburgh or for Cairo. Cairo is crazy, yes and I
did say that I'm glad to be coming back to normality but I forgot that
I was returning to American normality. At least Cairo was welcoming.

Monday, August 2, 2010


well we got stopped at a checkpoint and our driver told them we were
all Canadian, Germans, australians, etc. They still asked to see our
passports which happen to ALL be US passports. Voices weren't raised,
bakhshiish wasn't paid, nothing except a glance at the picture and
then we were off again. Something is seriously up with this country.

Slight issue arises

When we got back from Sinai this morning I took a nap and then took a
short trip to the Internet cafe. The first thing I saw on the new York
times website was a a missile attack on Israel in Elat. Thanks to 20th
century history I know where Elat is and I knew that it was on the
gulf if aquaba where we happen to be staying. This is all well and
good, the attack was far away (a hundred miles?) and it had no
immediae effect on us except as a conversation starter. When I read
the article they had no idea who shot the missile but the main
suspects were Palestinians launching it from Egypt. As the story
progressed however information was released that the missile came from
the southwest. We happen to be southwest and all of southern Sinai is
south west of Elat. The other suspect using the information was Saudi
Arabia who have some land souh west of Elat. I will stop here and
correct myself a bit. The attack wasn't directly on Elat, it hit Aqaba
a Jordanian city a little ways away. The problem was the intention to
hit the israeli city.

The problems for us are going on as I write. We are on the bus back to
Cairo in time for our evening flight tommorow. As we left the hotel
management paniced a bit. We are six Americans travelling without
security and a terrorist attack is suspected to had come from Egypt.
It doesn't matter that the attack was on israel, the Egyptians are on
alert to protect all americans in Sinai where the suspected terrorists
launched the missile from. The hotel manager who arraned the bus told
us to right down on a piece of paper our names; passport number, and
"any nationality except US". I wrote German so as not to fully lie
but the rest of US are now Canadian and australian. This goes back to
the corruption within this country. Instead of showing our passports
at checkpoints they ask to see the paper and they see Germans candians
and Australians. Immediately. They let us go without assigning us
protection because none of those countries provide Egypt with huge
sums of money and arms.

In Egypt American citizens are better than Egyptian citizens or any
other nationality. We give them money to not fight with israel. They
need the money and the only way they continue to recieve it is if
American tourists are happy. To the Egyptians a safe tourist is a
happy tourist. The hotels disagree and think that the police just
cause more problems (personally I agree) so they do their part to
screw over the police. Honestly there is no threat to us here but
there is a chance for the police to make more money by using events
like this as propaganda to be hired on as security. I fly tommorow at
this time so I'm going to get some sleep now but I thought I would
share. Inchallah there will be no problems and I will be in Cairo
tommorow morning in time to pack and say goodbye to this beautiful but
sometimes spectacularly corrupt nation.

Mount Sinai

In an earlier post I talked about religion for myself. I told you
that I am not a religious person. I don't remember if I said anythig
about spirituality though. Sprirituality to me is very important. There
are moments of power, feelings of belonging, and times of complete
calm. These times, among others, have a spiritual meaning to me. It's
weird to say this but scuba diving was spiritual, everything was in
perfect balance and it was perfectly quiet. Again it's weird to think
that snorkeling here has been spiritual, to be in contol and dive five
to ten meters while holding your breath and actuallly swimming with
the fish instead of around them made me feel like a part of nature.
Sure I was an invader and not natural to their habitat but they were
I had heard in the past that mount Sinai, and climbing
mount Sinai was a deeply religious experience for some people. The
importance of the mountain to religion didn't escape me but I didn't
think a mountain could do that. After having climbed it I can now say
that I understand that position. Although it was purely spiritual for
me it was odd to have a closeness to the site where morality for half
the world's population was established. And it was definitely as close to
religious as I will ever get.
We left the penguin village hotel at a little after 12 and arrived at
the base of Sinai at 2 am. We started to climb as a group of twenty at
around 2 15. It was obvious that there were serious hikers, fit
people, and then us, the Cairo bums. I guess there was some overlap
but I walked slowly mostly to stay with Kayla and Ayman. She was struggling
because of her asthma and I carried her backpack to the top along with
mine. The walk was along a dirt path but it was wide enough for
camels to walk beside you on either side. The moon lit the path
as our group spread out more and more, them making progress, and us
falling behind. It was an extremely long walk and took us a little
over three hours to finish. As we walked up people sang and chanted
and enjoyed their religious experience. I don't know if it's
religion, will power, or both but there are very few things in the world
that could make 80 year men and women make a climb of this nature. It was a wide
path but it was steep and just before the top, the last 30 minutes are
a walk up hundreds of stone steps. As we looked back below us while
walking, groups of people, flashlights in hand, wobbled up the
mountain just as we had done a few minutes before them. To me this was
the spirituality, something brought us all together on that mountain
this morning. Even though most of the people will never see eachother
again we all know exactly who we shared that hike, that view, and that
sunrise with. That happens every night there but each groupk each
night has it's own connection, somehow. I have been to touristy places
before but nothing like this. Not because of the chuchkie trinkets but
the languages and the community. There were a few hundred people on the mountain I would
guess and here must have been more than two dozen languages. The
Asian tourists were there with their high socks, goofy hats, gloves,
sleeves, and cameras. The Germans were there wearin typical capris,
tevas, and German socks while eating bread and cheese out of a cheap
plastic bag. The Americans were there, and you can guess how they
were. Every background, age, nationality, and religion was
represented and we all watched the sun rise together before climbing
back down. We climbed down the steps but then decided to descend on
another path. The other path was filled with switchbacks and tiny
shops but we returned by climbing down more and more and more stairs
until the bottom. The view was great as we came down this crevace in
the side of the mountain.
In the dark of the night we drove to the base and could not see our
surroundings, as we climbed we saw the ouline of mountains and the
trail ahead of us. But on the top and on the way back everything that
we hadn't seen was finall revealed to us. A ligt fog covered the
mountains and the sun as it rose but the red mountains reflected the
sunlight in a way that no camera, only firsthand experience could do
it justice.
It's starnge that this place was as highly gaurded as the DMZ
between the koreas. Our bus to Sinai from dahab was stopped several
times and we were asked our nationality. Before leaving the hotel
receptionist told us to say canadian or british because as ling as
there are no more than 3 Americans they don't tag security on you.
The security for Americans is to keep us/them happy but it has an
opposite effect. The police here are burdensome and creepy and way
overbearing. The whole Sinai penninsula is like that but especially at
Sinai. Even within the complex of mount Sinai, our bus was pulled over
4 times. It's completely unneccesary but also completely the fault of
our own government.
Once the police were dealt with and the climb through the night began
I was struck by that spirituality. Everything was calm. The people
were in harmony. The setting was gorgeous. Truly a once in a lifetime
experience and a story to tell to everyone. My only question is, am I
obligated to climb it again in old age like the men and women we saw
or was this my one trip. I couldn't figure out whether the old people
were returning, or trying to cross something off of their bucket list in the latter
stages of life, either way the draw to return is there.

The theory

This post is out of order but it's just abou the most important thing
I have to write about. I'm on the bus to mount Sinai and it popped
into my head. It goes along with the post that was the the recap of
the last few days.

Like I said we ate dinner with the Iraqis on Wednesday and the topic
of oppression came up at dinner. Nolan and I weren't there for it but
Jamie Kayla and yalda told us what they said. The iraqi women and some
other women we have talked to got offended when we asked if they felt
oppressed because they feel that American women are more oppressed and
have fewer rights than they do. I never thought of the hijab or nikab
as oppression but I did assume that Arabic culture in general was
oppressive. Nolan and I argued that they are oppressed and just don't
realize it because they don't see what we are missng. I now agree
that this was a very closed minded western opinion but it's the
opinion I took. We got into a heated debate over oppression and the
girls ultimately proved to us that we cannot call them oppressed. I
they don't feel oppressed then they can't possibly be oppressed. We
asked how they felt about being called oppressed and they compared it
to our opinion and our argument which makes complete sense. The
ddebate went on but I don't know exactly what went on in the debate.
The importance of the night and the importance of this post came after
the discussion. Nolan and I returned to our room heads hung low and
soundly beaten but we couldn't figure out why. We started talking and
involved our other two roommate into the discussion. We started
talking at 1am and went to sleep at 5 am just to put into perspective
the intemsity ofhis conversation. It started because Jamie challenged
Nolan to find one time that he actually saw a woman being forcefully
oppressed. Nolan obviously couldn't but we still needed an argument.
We came up with oppression we had heard of bt not actually seen and
tried to think of it as when is it oppression and are we justified in
thinking it's oppression and most importantly when can we intervene.
This question bugged us bu at some point we came up with a failptoof
theory. And when I say failptoof I mean that I fits everything. We
agreed at four am that maybe this just worked because it was 4 am and
we were all extremely tired. But first thing in the mornin we ran
through several more scenarios and what do you know, still failproof.
This theory should be written into a book and studied everywhere it's
that good. I know I'm one of the founders of the idea but wventhe
girls couldn't argue with it and I obviously believe in it. I'm now
going to go through the theory and if you agree tell me if you don't,
well then don't say anything.

We decided that within any system of percieved oppression there are
four kinds of people. This percieved oppression can be percieved by
anyone, westerners, Asians, Arabs, women, men, gay, straight, and
alien. The four levels each have a corresponding actionthat can be
taken by someone who prlercieves oppression. The four stages are not
oppressed, internally oppressed, externally oppressed, and the
revolutionary. I'll start at the first stage and I will use the first
tense and the percieved oppression of slavery. If I percieve that
slavery is oppressive then I can use this system

The unoppressed slaves are the slaves who are happy with their
situation and who don't percieve themselves as oppressed. These people
are content and despite my feelings that they are oppressed I have no
right to tell them they are oppressed.

In stage two the internally oppressed slaves are the ones who are
unhappy but they feel that they have a duty to be a slave. They do not
try to leave the system because it is an internal feeling that they
cannot do anything but that. These people are internally oppressed. I
can call these slaves oppressed and at this point I have the human
right to tell them that they are either happy where they are, in which
case they would become unoppressed. Or to tell them that they are
oppressed and that they should try to remove themselves by moving to
stage three.

Stage three slaves are the slaves who are made to be slaves by an
external force. They have tried to escape the system by running away
or buying their freedom but they are continually forced back into
slavery by their masters At this stage I have the right to call the
person oppressed just as I was with stage two oppression. At this
stage my human rights expand. I gain the right to help the person
escape their oppression. They have tried and are unable to escape
without outside help so I have the right to help them escape if they
are willing to accept it. Advancement to stage four has two choices,
one of which has another two options. This is where the theory gets
confusing but it still works.

The revolutionary slaves are the slaves who have escaped slaery and
the percieved oppression. They can escape as an independent escapee in
one of two ways: dead or alive. Either the slave gets out of the
oppression by running north and succeeding or by being killed while
running away. Either way the slave is no longer a slave and is no
longer oppressed. This seems morose but it's true. The second way of
escaping is as a group. A whole sale change within a system of
oppression which allows people to escape. In terms of slavery this was
Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery. Slavery was made illegal
and the slaves were no longer oppressed. They escaped the oppression
as a whole and therefore have become unoppressed. Naturally these
people are not oppressed and we have no right or option bu to call
them unoppressed.

Some of you may be thinking "what about the happy slaves? The stage
one slaves?" well here's the problem in America and within every
system of oppression. It should be optional. This sounds like I am a
southern radical who promotes slavery bu I'm not. But we cannot
abolish slavery is a slave was entirely happy to be a slave and felt
unoppressed. By abolishing slavery we deny him a han right to the
pursuit of happiness. We stop him from being what he wants to be, a
slave. There are a few more clauses that I wrote in a notebook
throughout the night but they are too superfluous for now. We tried
this system with everyone we thought of as oppressed and it always
worked. Part of the problem for us is that we do not see western
oppression very much today but this theory/idea is universal because
it can be applied to your personal perception no matte where you live,
how you were raised, or how ling you have been alive. It always works.

Dahab day 1? Sortof...

Before I start talking abot dahab I want you to all go back and read
my firt or second post where I talk about the sun and my skin. Do that
now........... Okay now that you read it I'll tell you how I'm going
to look when I get back. If you wanted you could print the post
gazette on the front of me but you may mistake my back for a lobster.
This whole trip I have done a great job with suntan lotion and
avoiding the sun and on my last weekend here I screw it up, if I can't
sit still on the plane because I this sunburn I will be mish mabsut
when I get back. When I say red I mean RED. I applied SPF 95 to my
back and still I managed to broil. That was earlier today and I'm
getting ahead of myself.

We got to dahab at 10 in the morning. For those of you who don't know
dahab is abou halfway down the gulf of Aqaba 16 kilometres across from
Saudi Arabia. When we got here I had about 3 hours of sleep since the
same time the day before. We talked to the people at the front desk
and were told our rooms weren't all available so they switched our
rooms around as we sat on the deck and had a small breakfast. When we
got our rooms the man mentioned Scuba diving to us. Originally we
planned to climb mount Sinai last night and do other things today but
he said that the monastery was closed and we would have to wait until
today. This worked perfectly in the end. Scuba diving changes the
pressure in your lungs because you are breathing compressed air and
descending. Therefore when you climb a mountain you come in serious
risk of bursting your lungs. Some of us wanted to dive from the time
we planned the trip and others were fine just snorkeling. I was among
the snorkelling group but I'll be damned peer pressure works wonders.
At 1 o'clock, three hours after arriving I was with Nolan Sara jamie
and Kayla talking to our dive instructor. He explained the dive and
the dangers and the signals and then fit us into our equipment. We got
wet suits shoes fins goggles and apparatus and loaded them onto a
truck. We all squeezed into the back of a car and fifteen minutes late
we arrived at a small cove called lighthouse. We pulled the gear out
of the truck and the instructors set it up for us. Jamie has her scuba
PADI license and set up her own gear. As we put on the wet suits we
took lots of pictures and acted as goofy as we looked much to our own
amusement. The wetsuit and shoes were extremely hot and they only got
hotter and more uncomfortable as the instructors lifted the oxygen
tanks onto our backs. I had seen scuba diving before and I knew about
the oxygen tanks but I never assumed them to be burdensome. Underwater
they look so normal but on landthe aluminum mass becomes a weight
almost to much to carry. As beings we are bouyant, our suits were
bouyant, and our oxygen filled tanks were probably somewhat bouyant as
well so to counteract that you have a belt of weights strapped around
yor waist before you enter the water.

Where we entered was relatively rocky but they were the nice rounded
smooth rocks so with the shoes on it wasn't uncomfortable. Our
instructor told us to spit into our goggles because it's the best kind
of antifog bwe did this and we put them around our necks as he
strapped us into our fins. Above water it's nearly impossible to move
around in the wetsuit and apparatus so it was nearly impossible to put
them on ourselves as beginners. He gave us final instructions in the
three foot water and took me under first. I waited in my knees
breathing into the apparatus as he helped nolan down as well. It took
a little bit of time because he had to remoe the bouyancy from the
apparatus so that we coul stay underwater without rising to the top.
I'm not a claustrophobic person at all and I'm usually very relaxed
but in the three foot water I paniced because I felt so surrounded. I
was breathing into the apparatus and it felt so weird that I freaked
out a little. I wasn't scared just jittery like the moment before the
drop on a big rollercoaster. Going underwater I guess I hadn't
realized that that would be my last breath of real air until I
resurfaced which made it even worse. I popped up and immediately felt
better after I took a final breath, this time knowingly, before going
back to the pressurized air. Underwater this time I was much better
and i focused on breathing deeply. The air isn't thin but it's
different from breathing normally, the air sortof rushes into your
mouth and lungs with a vaderlike hiss. Nolan was underwater and set as
I came back down on my own accord. We ran through the skills we talked
about above water like emptying your goggles underwater, and clearing
the breathing apparatus. The goggles were a bit scary beause you fill
them underwater and then have to force the water out by exhaling
through your nose until the water is out of the goggles. To clearthe
breathing apparatus you take a deep breath, remove it, allow bubbles
to exit your mouth, replace the apparatus to your mouth and exhale

Because Nolan, Sara, Kayla, and I had never dove before we had to be
literally pushed and pulled by our instructors. We began our dive and
he lowered us deeper into the ocean occasionally telling us to
equalize our ears and asking if we were okay using hand signals. We
reached the drop off and suddenly I saw truly the most amazing thing I
had seen, I was surrounded by coral reef and thousands of fish from at
least fifty species. The water was perfectly clear and the visibily
must have been at least 50 to 100 feet. All in all we were under for
almost fourty minutes and were about ten meters deep. I never paniced
after that first part because I was surrounded by beauty and filled
with amazement. The only problem I had was smiling which allowed some
water to seep into my my mouth but that was barely on my mind.
Because of the apparatus you can't speak and the fish don make sounds
either, the only sounds are your inhaling, the bubbles of your
exhaling, and your own thoughts. It was so peaceful. When we surfaced
I was all smiles and I began asking our instructor about his diving
experiences and I was definitely eager to dive again. Someday I will
and maybe I will get a license so that I don't have to be tugged
around. After the dive we all talked about what we saw and changed out
of the gear. The car drove us back and after a quick lunch I fell

After waking up we rented snorkels and walked along the boardwalk to
the same location we wet scuba diving. We snorkeled around some parts
that we didn't see on our dive an his time tallied about it as we
looked around. Snorkeling was never my thing but I only ever
snorkeled in lake Erie where ten foot visibility is considered great.
Here I could see as far as I wanted and somehow after breathing out
ofthe apparatus earlier the breathing with a snorkel became more
regular. We snorkeled for a while and then at dinner and chatted on
the roof before going to bed.

This morning we woke up at ten for our 11 o'clock trip to the blue
hole. It was about thirty minutes way and it's the most famouse dive
and snorkle site in Egypt and rightfully so. Blue hole is a general
term for sinkholes surrounded by a rounder circular wall. The blue
hole is extremely deep and a tunnel coonects it to the open water.
This tunnel is infamous and makes it one of the most dangerous dive
sites in the world. It is completely safe if you stay within your
limits and the limits of scuba diving. Scuba diving allows you to
reach 40 meters below the surface, the tunnel is at 52 meters. Many
people have tried to go the extra 12 and swim through. Those who make
it down that far often miss the tunnel or get nitorgen narcoses and
become "drunk". There is apparently a video of a man at the blue whe
who removes his apparatus and offers it to a fish and then begins to
drown because he lost his survival instincts. Some divers find the
hole but it is very narrow and they often get stuck and drown. More
than fourty people have died there which seems ridiculous. At the
blue hole we joined hundreds of other snorkelers and divers and this
is where my sunburn story comes in. Trust me, I applied sunscreen,
lots of it. But that does nothing against the sum in the desert in
crystal clear water. We snorkeled around the hole for two hours and I
spent the majority of that on my stomach looking downward. This is
where you call me an idiot and I proudly accept it. I'm red and burnt
but it was worth it. There were thousands more fish and hundred of
more species of coral and dozens of more colors. The fish vary in
shape and size and are the inspiration of one fish, two fish. The
while thing was amazing and the bubbles rising from the scuba divers
in the depths added to the beauty. Schools of fish swim in unison,
larger independent fish float around and show of their parrot like
colors. I'm a pool person and I hate deep water but this I could do
all the time. My fears vanished and I didn't even feel like I was
swimming. I fogot I was swimming and that I had to be able to swim
because I was so dustracted by everything else. Not even the small
shark I saw or the dark abyss below could rattle my nerves. Never in
my life have I been so comfortable swimming in open water as I have
been here.

The sunburn and the day of swimming made me tired as soon as we
returned back to the hotel. I woke up a few hours ago and finished my
last post and I have been writing this one since. And so far, despite
the sand in my bed, my back is comfortable. We leave in two hours fo
mount Sinai and I couldn't be more excited to climb, see, photograph,
and write about it. But right now I need a bit more sleep and
definitely some food. I'll write again post climb. Until then....

I'm sorry: a recap

It's been a long time since I have posted and for that I apologize.
I'm writin this on Friday night but I'm not sure whether or not I will
be able to post until I'm back in the United States on Tuesday. It's
not that I have forgot to post or that nothing has happened, actually
it's the opposite. This past week I have been thinking alot and every
time I think about writing it down it feels like a daunting task,
especially at two in the morning when I'm exhausted. Well I finally
have time and it's four in the morning. I'm on a private bus with some
friends and we are on our way to Dahab. The trip is six hous and we
are about two hours in. I can't sleep like the rest of us but we
really should be because tommorow is going to be a long day. Before I
go on about tommorow I'll recap the last few days.

On Tuesday I was feeling sick and didn't do anything. I left my class
early and then used the afternoon to catch up on much needed sleep. I
wish I had felt better because we had a trip to the citadel which
would have been educational. Instead I spent the day in bed hoping I
would feel better the next day.

We have tests to show how much we have learned while we have been
here. I think this is ridiculous because written tests are not the
purpose of the Arabic I have learned on this trip. Sure I can read and
write but many people do not have the courage or capabilities to order
at a restaurant or give directions to a can driver. It is those
things that should be graded because it shows a willingness to learn
and apply your knowledge. Why learn Arabic if you won't een use it
while in an Arabic speaking country. But anyway I used my sick day to
study for the exams, of which there seem to he alot.

On Wednesday I wasfeeling better which was a really good thing because
we had our final presentations for our language class at ILI. Our
presentation went well, Yalda my partner was feeling sick so I did
most of the talking. Not because she didn't want to speak but because
I get nervous and need to make sure that we talked enough. In the
afternoon I slept again as normal but then some of us went out to
dinner with the Iraqis who we met the week before. They brought their
whole extended family and other families which was great. I was a bit
dissapointed in our group because we all invited to take them out to
dinner or a movie but then half ofthe people backed ou leaving the
cost of the dinner on half of us. I didn't let this bother me because
I know that the nice dinner and company would mean alot more to the
Iraqi refugees and myself than the extra money would bother me. The
meal was good and the conversations were again interesting. Some of
the stories they shared biug tears to their eyes as well as theirs but
they still happily shared. I thought, while listening to one woman
tell me how she saw her driver shot on her way to work and how the gun
was pointed at her until an American hummer pulled up, that someone
needs to ask all of these refugees to write or dictate on short story
or experience and then publish all of them. I know that people would
read it and say "awww" and then go back to their suburban gated homes,
but maybe they would at least understand the situation there a little
bit more. Ultimately the night was great and we exchanged information
and hopefully we can stay in touch.

Thursday we go our final grades from ili and recieved our
certificates. I got an overall A and nothing less than an A- in each
category. For me the grade didn't matter even if I had gotten a C. I
know that I have learned Arabic. Arabic has come pretty easily and
pretty quickly to me so my efforts on homework or in class were
sometimes not the best. Some people tried harder than me and got
better grades which is fair. For me the real grade or proof of how
well someone knows a language isn't the certificate or grade you get
it's how well native speakers understand you and how well you can
communicate with them and I think I can do that. One thing that I
forgot was to get gifts and souvenirs. I had been to the sookh a
couple of times mostly to look around so I went Thursday night and
actually got the things I had seen before and was interested in. I
didn't buy things specifically for anyone I just got a few things that
I knew people would enjoy. This was my last oportunity to go shopping
because our Friday was planned out and now I'm in dahab until the day
when we fly back home.

Friday was a good day because I got to sleep in until the day was half
over. After that I studied for a few tests and then took them. I have
one moreto take once I get back to Cairo but I have this weekend to
study for it. The tests wee both makeup tests to see if we improved
over our course of study and I think that I answered the questions
more completely the second time around. In the evening we had our
final PMEI goodbye/birthday party for Alex. We went to the Nile where
we got on a large dinner boat at around 8. The boat drove up and down
the Nile for almost two hours and we got to eat buffet style the whole
time while listening to music and talking about our trip to that
point. Some people left right from the boat to their bus to the red
sea. Two groups of students made the trip to the red sea. Josh,
Andrea, and Whitney paid to spnd Saturday and Sunday at a resort and
Nolan, Jamie, Kayla, yalda, Sara, and I got a cheap hostel right on
the water with lots of opportunities to swim and snorkel. Our bus
picked us up at two AM. I started writing this on the bus and have
been writing it in pieces since. The experiences here have gone on
making it hard to write about what happen before so I'll make a new
post solely for the purpose of our first two days here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Early reflections and thank yous

For the first time since Writing my old posts I wen through and read
them again. I find do this for any particular reason other than
wanting to see what we did the first day. This brought me to a few
thoughts that I now feel like sharing. First I'm really glad that I
have been keeping this blog. It's a way for me to have the memories
that I don't actually remember at a moments notice. Part of being
glad about keeping this blog is not only my dedication but all of
yours. Never in my life did I think I could or would ever want to
write this much and I think it says even more that I'm writing on an
iPod touch. I never know how much I'm writing and I don't organize my
blog before posting. What you have been readin and what you are
reading now and will hopefully read tommorow is all stream of
conscience. I wouldn't have cared if nobody had read my blog or
commented it or nobody "followed" it because it's ultimately for
myself but I'm glad to share it with all of you. The point I am
getting at is that despite my inexperienced writing, lack of Internet
recognition, and my random posts you all still read my blog. As of
today my blog had more than 1100 hits in a month. More han half have
been from germany (thanks Raethers!) but alot have been from the
united states (thanks friends and blackman family!). All in all my
blog has been read in 11 countries and in at least 5 of those I don't
think I know anyone. I know that people stumble across websites but
I'm thankful to everyone who stumbled across it and actually read a
post. And thankful for the people who read occasionally and especially
thankful for the people who read it everyday.

I know I went of track with that but I'll get back on now. While
rereading my old posts I noticed how differently I see Cairo and the
middle east now than I did then. I've been thinking alot about what I
though in the days leading up to the trip and it's fascinating. Cairo
feels so natural to me now, I cross streets blindly, talk to people at
restaurants in Arabic, read signs in what look like heiroglyphics to
most, and eat unusual food like it's nothing. Before I came here I
expected a city not unlike new York or Berlin but now I can't picture
anything but this city. The first few days were shockingto say the
leat and there are still days when I am shocked but they are much more
sporadic. My point is that even my first posts after arriving in Egypt
now seem bogus. The impressions I got driving into this city on the
first day told me nothing about what I have seen sense. This means
alot when I look back and see how shocked I was then and how relaxed I
am now. This whole trip gives me great peace of mind that I can live
anywhere. I know I'm an adaptable person and I do not let change or
differences effect me. Every city is it's own river with it's own
twists, turns, rapids, and obstacles but the water still flows and you
just have to ride it out and adapt. Cairo has bumped me around, honked
at me, stared at me, grabbed me, confused me, gotten me lost, and much
more but I have not let it get the best of me and I know that I will
be able to say the same for any other city I visit or live in. Cairo
and Egypt are far from the worst places to live in this world but the
aspects of it can surely prepare anyone for those places.

I still have a week here and I'm not sure why I'm writing a semi
conclusive post now but it's been on my mind and needed to be
written. This isn't the last post or the next to last post Tom Egypt
or anything like that it's just a memo to myself and to all of you
that yes this place was shocking at first and that yes it got more
shocking as time went on and there are things that I will never forget
but also things I will never remember. Don't just read my blog because
my experiences are within and as much as I enjoy writing I can't write
everything I want to. I don't mind explaining to you on facebook or
via email but again I won't be as descriptive in my writing. If you
call me or talk to me in person I'll share with you as many stories as
I can. But it you want to know what I experienced and what fourteen
other Americans experienced for a month, you have to make the trip
yourself and see everything. I know it's not within everyones means
and so I share my experiences, but if it is, and you do come here,
please, do not expect a vacation. This isn't Hawaii or Florida or New
York or London, as the Egyptians would say "this is....EGYPT!!!!"
where soccer players pray on the field before games, donkeys share the
road with cars, everything is cheap, sandwhiches are sold by the
homeless, and people with brooms give new meaning to "street

Sunday, July 25, 2010

*insert title here*

I just got back from an Egyptian soccer game. Supposedly the game was
for some sort of championship. The first team (and the team I
supported), Ahly, play in one league and the other team, whose name I
forget, plays in another league. The game is to decide the overall
champion between the two teams. Ahly is widely supported here and
everyone has Abootrika jerseys in honor of their favorite player on
the team. The other team was supposedly a team made up of policeman
but that wasn't clear. Before i go into the details of my night let
me go into the details of the weekend up until the game.

After seeing inception and staying up until 3 i finally fell asleep
only to be woken up by my six thirty alarm clock, which was telling to
get up, shower, and eat before going to Alexandria. We cancelled the
trip to Luxor butthe trip to Alexandria is easier to we decided to go
up for the day. Nolan, Jamie, Kayla, and I left the school at 7 30. I
had slept the least but I was the most prepared to go. We didn't get
tickets in advance but knew trains left every half hour or hour so we
aimed for the eight o'clock train. We got there on time and found the
platform but we could not find a ticket booth, sometimes I hate this
country. Everyone on the platform was telling us something different
"go there", "come here", "pay on the train", "there's a train at 8 15"
and more outrageous things. Before I go on I'll pause and say that
Cairo is a city of 22 million people with one major train station, and
it's smaller than the one in Pittsburgh. Still, in this city of 22
million people, as we are walking away from the train to hopefully
find a ticket booth we see a sweet little old lady. "wait, we know
her, that's mrs. Magda who lectured us the other day".

7:56 we say hello and find out she is also going to Alexandria

7:57 she tells us what we already have heard but says we can sit in
the buffet car

7:58 we are running behind this little old lady to the buffet car

7:59 we are on the train, the buffet is full, looks like we are

8:00 the train starts moving (and they say Egyptians are never on time)

8:20 we way overpay for the train, 41 pounds. A first class seat is
30. We are standing between two cars of the train.

10:15 we are in Alexandria!

I'll stop with the rundown of times here but the day was just getting
started. We met up with Sara and yalda who drove ip with ayman and
aheb. We got lunch and then decided to go to their apartment and take
a nap because we hadn't slept on the train and weren't feeling well.
After "napping" we did a few of the things we had done the last time
in Alexandria but also walked along the beach for a while. I still
really like Alexandria but it still feels too European and doesn't
have it's own Egyptian identity really. We had a great fish and
shrimp dinner, the best I had ever had and the others agreed it was
among the best they had had as well. For 9 people it was supposed to
be 800 pounds but we wanted to treat the Egyptians. Having Egyptian
friends in Egypt has it's perks because nothing, unless it's in a
department store or supermarket is a fixed price. Every price is
negotiable and they negotiated the price down to 700. Elhamdulilah!
We then left at 10 30 to head back to Cairo in time for our 2 30
curfew, or not in time as it ended up being. It's usually a three hour
drive but traffic in Alexandria and on the highway held us up. They
could tell we were nervous abou getting back late so they drove faster
which made us more nervous. We explained that we would rather arrive
late, and safely, than try to go as fast as possible and be unsafe. We
ended up thirty minutes late which wasn't a big issue. We apologized
to rayda, the gatekeeper and then rolled into bed

This would have all been fine except that today was Visa renewal day.
We had to get up at 7 30 and go to the mogamma and get our visas
renewed. I would like to point out that at the time we got back from
Alexandria I had slept 3 of the previous 24 hours. When I woke up at
7 30 I had slept 4 of the previous twentyfour hours. I was tired. The
mogamma, renowned for it's complexity and long lines went smoothly.
Elhamdulilah! We got there at 8 30 and were back at our dorms at 9
30. We had dropped of our passports, photos, stamps, and applications
and needed to go back two hours later to pick them up. Two hours
Egyptian time is three hours standard time so we went back to sleep
until noon and they rode back to the mogamma once again. We were
still tired. Two hours of sleep only does so much. Luckily for us
Egypt must be on holiday, the mogamma was once again smooth and only
took fifteen minutes to grab our passports/visa and leave. In less
than an hour we had gone to the mogamma for a second time and returned
back to our dorms. Still tired, we fell asleep again.

We woke up at 4 15 to catch cabs to the stadium at 4 30. We already
had tickets to the the game but they don't have assigned seats so you
have to go early enough to get good seats for the game which starts at
8 30. We got to the stadium at 5 but our Egyptian friend who bought
the tickets only showed up at seven. We finally entered, sweaty, hot,
and restless from standing for two hours waiting, but also excited.
The stadium was huge, I imagine 80 or 90 thousand people max, but it
was far from full. One side was completely full l, the el Ahly side
and the other side was about half full. There were probably more
police than fans and more riot police than police. I now understand
why the average government salary here is 600 pounds, they are all
policeman many of who don't even carry weapons. I guess it's a way of
creating jobs but also a way of bankrupting a country. The other
team, supposedly a police team had the most colorful supporters I had
ever seen, they all wore tracksuits, and it seemed that each person
had another color. The el ahly fans were rowdier but still subdued
compared to St. Pauli or HSV fans. Not to mention British fans. It was
still a good atmosphere with lots of noise and excitement but I had
expected worse. The game went well and el Ahly won on an Abu Tereika
goal which sent everyone into a frenzy. It's lucky for us that el Ahly
won because apparently Egyptians fans are subdued until their teams
lose which is the reason for the riot police I suppose. Having el
Ahly win was in the best interest of all involved, which makes rigging
of the match impossible to rule out. We left 5 minutes early to avoid
traffic and the mob and we ended up back at the dorms and hour before
the others in the group who stayed the extra five minutes. It was a
good weekend but an exhausting one and now my pillow is calling me...
Goodnight dear reader


Ironically the night after writing abou my dreams hear I went and saw
inception. And for those of you who don't know it's all about dreams.
That's not the topic of my writing today. Like I said earlier we
didn't get to go to luxor this weekend because one of our friends was
sick. She felt well enough inthe afternoon that she Jamie, Nolan and I
were able to go to Coptic Cairo.

Egypt is a very islamic country but it does have it's christians. The
christians here are Coptic and not roman catholic so they have
seperate priests etc. I haven't seen a roman catholic church but the
Coptic churches are prevalent and the school where we are staying is
connected to a Coptic church. The Coptic churches in Coptic Cairo are
much older and much more beautiful than this one. The museums seem to
be in a complex of 5 or six churches, a synagogue, and a museum. We
went to the museum and looked at the artifacts we weren't in a rush
but there were so many placards that we couldn't read everything.
Still, we managed to come out with more knowlede than we did going
in. Before this we had seen churches, visited churches, and talked to
Copts but we didn't know the signifigance. The art was beautiful and
their designs were very obviusly derived from many other regions like
Italy, Greece etc. We went to look at some of the churches but only
managed to get inside one because many closed at 4, just as we were
leaving the Coptic museum. We missed the church where Mary and baby
Jesus supposedly stayed for a while as well as the synagogue.

After exhausting ourselves with walking we decidedto catch the metro
back to tahrir square where we now have a favorite restaurant, Kazzaz.
It seems like the equivalent of Egyptian eat n' park. The food is
quick and relatively cheap and it is especially delicious. I had the
lentil soup which looked disgusting but tasted amazing. Jamie had
planned to meetfriwnds in zamalek and I wanted to meet my sister so we
grabbed a cab and split up once in zamalek. Alex, Lev, two friends of
theirs, and I went to Jo sushi which was good except I had just eaten
so my appetitte was small. We talked about various things and alex
and i joked about speaking german in front of the other three so that
they wouldn't understand. All together I saw alex three times while
in Cairo together which was less than I expected I would see her but I
guess it shows how well I adjusted and how much I enjoy the people I
am with on the trip. I had to lead dinner early so that I could meet
up with Jamie again, and take a cab back downtown where we were
meeting some other friends to go see inception which was AMAZING! We
all came out of the theater with different explanations though but it
tarted a conversation that lasted well into the night about dreams,
space, aliens, and more. It geeky I know but I think having my brain
violated by a movie is a justifiable cause to be geeky

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The dream sequence

I lied. We aren't going to Luxor this weekend. One of our friends got
sick and we all agreed it wasn't in her best interest to travel and we
didn't want to go see everything without her especially since she was
most interested in going. This however leaves me with no experiences
to write about. I'm sure there will still be experiences this weekend
like our trip to the mogamma, a mosque, a soccer game, and maybe
Alexandria again. For now though, I'll write what I feel that I have
left out of my descriptions. These are minute details about Egypt and
Cairo that aren't vital but definitely interesting and worth writing
about and reading if you have the time to do that.

I'll start with a recent subject amongst our friends here, dreams.
This may seem weird and it is but alot of times one person will
mention something randomly unusual and everyone else stops, turns, and
says "oh my god! You're right!". Recently this something has been
dreams. As some background information, I never dream in the united
states and if I do, I never remember them the next morning. Here on
the other hand, I do dream. I have dreamt at other points in life, so
dreams are not completely foreign to me but these dreams are. Not
only do I dream but I dream vividly. I rememembe minute details, I
feel as if I can actually reach out and do things, I can hear and see
and I am definitely myself in these dreams and I can control what I
do. At first this was interesting to see the different dreams I would
have and the new dream experiences I would have. Recently though the
dreams have been sequential, for the past three periods of sleep (2
naps and 1 night time sleep) my dreams have been a continuous story.
This is wierd because I have had recurring dreams and dreams with
stories but never my own tv show that plays on my eyelids as I sleep.
I brought this up with some other students and they agreed that
something about the dreams here was different. We have several
hypotheses like new chemicals in the food, the bottled water, the
pollution, the horns, the language, etc. It's one of the more
quizzical things about this place that I will probably never find out
but it has been nice. And I kind of look forward to sleeping to see
how my story continues and maybe changing it. Jamie, one of the other
students, says that the last time her dreams were this vivid was when
she was hyped up on pain killers after surgery but that they were so
vivid that the idea of sleeping was scary. I'm glad my dreams are not
at that point but also dissapointed to know that after a few days back
in the US my dreams will once again dissapear. This is a cometely
random post but something that has been on my mind all day. I'll
continue this miniseries of Egyptian oddities this weekend but now my
dreams await.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What a day!

Today was one of the best days since getting here. No one part of my
day stuck out but as a whole it was just great. Every part of my day
was perfect including right now as I write in my airconditioned room
at midnight.

My ili class went really well and I really like what we are learning
now because it's really practical and simplifies life a thousand
times. Just in the last few days I feel that my Arabic has progressed
much much more. I talked to a cab driver today and he understood the
questions I asked and the statements I made. I think the real sign of
progress is that I can now pick out words of other peoples
conversations, the news, music, movies, etc. I still have difficulty
reading but every morning I practice as we drive to school. I think
that kids just learning to read in English whether they are American,
British, or foreigners should have to be driven around and read every
sign they can to the best of their ability. Traffic here is slow
enough that I can pick apart each letter and than say it aloud or in
my head as we roll by in the car. There are also enough signs here
that my morning reading sessions don't bore me and the words rarely
repeat. It doesn't help my vocabulary because many of the words are
streets, neighborhoods, companies, names and so on.

After ili I got my nap and I managed to get two and a half hours
before waking up to a text from georges our director. He asked us to
come downstairs for our afternoon class a bit early because Mina had
met some Iraqi refugees and invited them to speak with us. Mina has
an uncanny ability to meet people. I dint know how he does it but it
seems that every day he is talkling to someone new. I got firsthand
experience today watching Mina work hi magic on the cab drivers later
in the day. He not only got us three cabs in three minutes, he had
the cab drivers working together, and most importantly they were
calling him "Mina" within minutes. If anybody has trouble meeting
people them they really need to meet Mina and take lessons.

We came downstairs to the patio of the school at 3 30 and met with six
women (later a man joined the group). I would never have guessed that
they were Iraqi and not Egyptian but apparently it is very apparent to
Egyptians. The six women came from three families, a mother and
daughter, and two sets of sisters. The mother was a very strong woman
but she spoke kindly and softly. She was amazingly smart and well
spoken and obviously very caring but it was also very easy to see the
pain in her past as well as the five girls. Two of the girls were
among the prettiest girls I have ever seen and they all ranged from 14
to 18 and then the mother was probably in her fourties. The mother
said that they fled five years ago after the civil war broke out
between Sunnis and Shiites so the girls all had different experiences
and different memories. The mother spike the most and a few of the
girls spoke quite a bit and the rest were silent almost the entire
time. They spoke some English but georges and Mina still translated
our questions and their answers. At first we asked them questions
like how they felt about America, whether they would return, how life
was in Egypt, and how they felt before the US invasion. The responses
were emotional but eyeopening and surprising. It's hard to listen as
people talk calmly about leaving their homes for school and work and
seeing corpses on your sidewalk. Or how their father was kidnapped and
beaten by Shiites and even how one of the girls had a bag thrown over
her head and then was saved because of her screaming. They spoke
calmly about these obviously damaging events but afterwards some of us
agreed that we might have cried had we been in another setting. Some
of the most interesting comments were that they don hate americans,
and they don't blame americans for what is going on in their country
now. They say they rely on the united states to maintain the situation
and keep it from getting worse. This made me think about the US plans
to pull the troops out. I know that the war has gone on too long and
it's time for it to end but righ now the Iraqi people still at least
have respect for us and out military. If we pull out and leave them
without fulfilling their needs we help noone. To me it seems that the
people who are radically supportive of immediate withdrawal are just
just as detrimental as those who say we have to stay there until all
the WMDs are found and destroyed. Our relationship with the Iraqi
people is hanging on a thread but it's still possible to save it.
According to the women with whom we spoke Iran is the main threat and
main cause of violence in Iraq now. Someone asked if they were Sunni
or Shiite and she said "we don't know, we were always just Muslim, we
married Sunnis and Shiites and had Sunni and Shiite neighboors. Then
the influence of the Irani Shiite leaders reached Iraq and the civil
war began". This was surprising to hear but even more surprising to
hear was that they were threatened by both Sunnis and Shiites because
nobody knows who is who. This is obviously problematic and
detrimental to the well being of Iraq. The fact that Iraq has not had
a fully functioning government for four years is a huge issue, if the
US army leaves without a) sealing the borders and b) establishing a
government then it will easily fall under he control of Iran. The man
added at this point that they need a government and a leader not a
democracy. He explained that people must feel that they want a
democracy. Under saddam Hussein life was good, people followed rules
and Iraq was prosperous, everyone had enough money. He was a dictator
and he did torture people but he tortured guilty people and only
people with enough power to harm him. Now however people are tortured
everyday either by the US military, sunnis, Shiites, the "government"
etc. and these people don't even need to be guilty or even suspected,
just associated or have potential information. Towards the end they
all said that until the people demanded democracy they needed another
saddam Hussein. Someone who was strong and could make the sunnis and
Shiites stop fighting, who was respected by all the people and could
restore electricity and water.

This was so intriguing because in the US we are told that the people
hated saddam Hussein and that the people were miserable under him,
these were refugees, the outcasts of their country saying that they
needed him and wanted another leader like him. I understood everything
they said and when they talked about the people needing to want
democracy it struck me that our nation, the symbol of democracy,
became a democratic nation because the people wanted it, not because
someone came and said "you need a democracy". I've thought abou that
since then and I still can't think of nation, still existing where
democracy was established and maintained without the will o the
people. Ultimately it was one of the best discussions I had ever had
and I wish that all Americans had to do what we did today and talk to
the people of Iraq and understand what they want not why we want.

After asking our questions we invited them to ask us questions because
we felt bad bombarding them with question after question. It was
mostly the mother who asked questions and her questions were difficult
to answer. Our group is obviously educated and open enough to other
cultures that our answers did not reflect the answers the majority of
americans would give. We explained this time after time and they
seemed to understand. She asked questions about the hijab and how we
felt abou women wearing, how we feel about the Iraqi people, or
Muslims, and also about terrorism and torture. It was the second time
this week that someone mentioned America as terrorists and torturers
and I think that's something we don't realize. Operation Iraqi freedom
is an act of terrorism in their eyes, they combat us just as we would
combat terrorists on American soil. This doesn't mean that we have to
hit them harder because they hate us, it means we must respect them as
their own people and as a sovereign nation and they will not bother
us. It seems weird that she said she loved the united states but also
that she thought we were a terrorist nation. I think this respect is
something we as Americans don't have, we think all Muslims are
terrorists so we hate them or we hate them so we stereotype them all
as terrosists, one way or another this is wrong. As long as this
mindset remains in the US, the two sides can never reconcile. The
last thing I would lime to point out was her comment about Barack
Obama. She said that he is better than Bush but that he cared to much
about his military and not The situation in Iraq. With all of the
support for withdrawal, the focus of US efforts has been on the
military, and not on the Iraqi people, there are still conflicts in
the streets and homes without water and those should be the priorities
of out army not our own miltary. I do support a withdrawal of the
troops but after today I realize more the importance of staying there.

As my perfect day went on, Mina, 9 students, and myself visited a
church carved into the mountain near the citadel. The church was
amazing and a feat of architectural genius despite being naturally
formed. The pews were carved into the mountain just as the altars,
sculptures, and other statues were. The full church must have held
more than 5 000 people just in seats and I imagine many more stand. It
was empty when we were there but this did not detract from it's
magnifigance. I enjoyed the church but the highlight for me was the
neighboorhood it was situated in and the view from one of the
buildings in the complex. The neighboorhood is all Christian and among
the poorest in Cairo. The community is made up of garbage collectors
who sweep up, bag, pile, transport, sort, recycle, and burn all of
cairos trash. Trucks are seen with massive loads of trash tied down
and men are seen sweeping highways but until today I had no idea where
the trash went until I was on the roof ofthe building. Looking out of
Cairo starting at your toes and then lifting your head slowly you must
pass over a mile ove garbage before a trace of Cairo is seen through
the smog. This is not a sight seen by many tourists but it was
beautiful and disgusting. We looke over the community we had driven
through to get to the church and we realized that we hadn't driven
through a neighboorhood, ghetto, or slum, but an actuall garbage heap
which happened to have buildings on it. Garbage was on roofs, hanging
out of windows, being eaten by pigs and goats, sorted by children,
stacked, slept on, burned and just about anything else you could think
to do with trash. One roof had thirty goats on it and a pile of
natural waste which I suppose was their food. This wasn't a small
building either, it was at least 5 stories high and the lower levels
were also littered with trash. When I realized which community this
was I remembered something I had heard last fall about Egypt. When the
swine flu rolled around Egypt had the smart idea to kill all of it's
pigs, i thought at the time about how a seemingly educated country
could be so dumb as to think that the pigs were actually spreading the
disease. Turns out this country is smarter than I thought, as a 80%
Islamic country they have a Christian problem, one of the largest
communities of Christians in Egypt is this garbage community and guess
what their main source of income is. That's right, pigs. Last year
the roofs we saw now covered with goats would have been covered in
pigs. Mina explained that there is some speculation that the swine flu
and killing of the pigs was an act of terrorism agains the christians.
I remember PETA being angry at the slaughter but now I realize that
the US, UN, and every christian group should have been outraged as
well. I don't say that that is the exact truth but the reasoning
behind it makes complete sense.

This was my great day of discussion, sights, and reflection and it's
one of the best days of my life and I don't know how it could get
better. As I look at my clock now I see that I've been writing for
over and hour and twenty minutes and I just hope you all read more
quickly than I write. I'm going to Alexandria and Luxor this weekend
so I won't have Internet for a few days I don't think so this is my
last post until Monday. But I will try to have several posts about my
weekend. Until then dear reader....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jan reflects on the day, religious thoughts ensue, blog post become incomprehensible to everyone, including himself. Oh well.

Today I decided that I want to study the middle east if I really go
into international relations. We had another lecture with sheikh
hamdallah today and it was really educational and thought provoking.
It was the same translator and he was again superb but I wish that I
could speak directly with sheikh hamdallah because I feel that
somethings are lost in translation. He lectured about prayer and the
steps of prayer which was interesting but the question and answer
session was by far the best.

We got into a discussion about Islam as a religion of peace as well as
it's role in politics. Hamdallah said that Islam can and should effect
politics. Not as a religion like christiantity in the united states
but as a lifestyle. He said that islam is morethan religion it's a way
of life and that is why they know when to pray, which way to face
during prayer, and what to do in the prayer because it is natural. He
said that he does not want Egypt or other nations to be ruled by Islam
but rather by secular governments which share the ideals of Islam.
This isn't hard because many of the guidelines of Islam are like the
guidelines in Christianity or Judaism. He didn't speak about
religions outside of the people of the book but I imagine that if they
were involved in the government he would disagree.

I realized today how similar most religions are and that the
differences lie in the way we worship. The conflict lies in the
lifestyle and the extremist radicals of each religion who feel that no
religion but their own should exist. Hamdallah explained that in Islam
as a rule, humans were created to serve humans and all other things on
the earth were created to serve us. I disagree with this but as far as
all humans serving one another I agree. He said that Muslims cannot do
what benefits themselves if it harms other people so I asked if Muslim
terrorists would be called Muslim by other Muslims. He gave me a
roundabout answer asking which terrorists I meant to which I responded
well what about 9/11. I felt bad as soon as it came out of my mouth
and wanted to give a general example about any Muslim who would
hypothetically strap a bomb to himself in a market. He asked why we
focus so much on muslim terrorists and not Jewish terrorists in gaza
or American terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. I didn't like that he
didn't answer my question but I loved that he asked me about the other
acts of terrorism by groups outside of Islam. I answered that I had no
idea why we don't pay attention to that and elaborated saying that I
am pro Palestine and against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and I
ask myself the same question every day. We are the terrorists in the
middle east, all violence stems from us. I know that that is a
generalization but for the most part I think it's true.

We are killing civillians in both Iraq and afganistan. Why? Freedom.
But he said, and I agree, that killing people does not bring them
freedom. The Taliban may be gone, but other groups will arise and we
will be "forced" to expell them as well but at what cost? Again the
answer is lives and ultimately the cost of freedom. In answering
another unrelated question he gave answers to many other questions.
The answer he gave to a question stated that there needs to be someone
who has no prophet who can bridge Islam to christiansity to Judaism
who has no idols and does not want to be idolized. Who is fair but
understanding of everyones needs. While he said this I was thinking
that he would eventually say that we only need to wait for this person
to come along but then he suggested that this person is Allah. I had a
tough time with this because I know the negative impact of that word
in the west. Allah ultimately is the word for god but the different
spelling and pronunciation throws many people off. As long as the
mediator between east and west goes by the name of Allah I doubt there
will ever be legitimate negotiations and settlements. I hope that
someday someone can be respected enough by both the Muslim world and
the western world. This will be nearly impossible but we are about
1200 years overdue for a holy figure who will unite the people.
Someday, if religions are true; there must be another prophet right?
God can't have given his people all the answers in the bible, qur'an
etc. This brings me to one thing which I love about Islam and find
dissapointing in christaianity, and that is additions to the holy
text. In islam ishtihad is the process of adding more to the Quran, I
have never heard of anything similar to this in the bible. To be fair
however, it is nearly impossible to add to the quran but there is a

I doubt religion and have trouble with faith in any religion that has
not been updated in hundreds of years. We have trouble in the US with
the language in our constitution because it is 300 years old how can
we say that we have the exact right interpretation of the bible or
Quran when the texts were written way before the constitution was even
considered. Especially since nothing has been added to either book
since their inception. I also find it hard to believe that in a span
of a few thousand years there were hundreds of people who were
important enough to be mentioned in the bible, bu in the last thousand
tears there have been none, if there is a god did he give up on us? Or
why have there been no more people worthy of addition to the bible.

I'm getting off track here but that's what happens when I think about
religion. It confuses me and I have thought about it everyday of my
life so i have a tough time with people who have such a strong faith
in their religion. Having faith in a religion is hard but trying
everyday to have faith in religion and failing to find any way to have
faith is much harder. I don't loom for reasons to not have faith in
religion or god, rather i look for a way to have faith in religion or
god but so far nobody has convinced me, I haven't convinced myself,
and god surely hasn't convinced me that he exists or that I should
have faith in his teachings. I have nothing against religious people
or any person of faith so please don't be offended, these are merely
questions I'm asking you and anyone else aloud and expressing my own
concerns. If you have any advice or anything you want to share please
feel free and I'll gladly share more of what I believe and the
thoughts I have about religion.

Anyway, I want to study the Issues in the middle east regarding
religious conflict. I know I'm not the mediator hamdallah was talking
about but without people trying to solve the issues now a mediator
will never be found and the strained relationships will only continue
to exist. If I can't do my part to help directly maybe I can help
find, educate, and inform the next generations who may be able to
bring about resolution. According to sheikh hamdallah all religions
must adapt to modernization just as nations and people must adapt as
well and I think that with the massive amounts of information around
the world that can be shared so easily today education and educating
people about the positives of Islam, the middle east, judaism, Israel,
Christianity, the united states, and every other religion and region
of the world is the best thing we can do to understand one another. So
if I don't make it as a big time person in foreign diplomacy Ill go
back to school as a teacher and recycle my knowledge and hopefully
someone I teach or share my knowledge with can do what needs to be done.