This blog was originally designed to keep me sane as I began learning Arabic. It morphed into a blog of musings about Arabic, the Middle East, and the Islamic World, as well as book reviews about those topics. Then, the blog became a place to keep my family and friends updated on my adventures while I was living abroad. During May and June of 2012, I had a 6-week long internship in Cairo, Egypt through a international student organization called AIESEC. I taught English at the Awladi Orphanage in Cairo, home to several hundred children. I lived in an apartment in Nasr City before moving to Maadi (each is a distinct area of Cairo). I experienced President Mursi's election, camped in the western desert, rode camels by the pyramids, and had countless other experiences. I have since moved past this blog, on towards new endeavors, but if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

day 8

Went to work as usual today! The teachers requested that we start coming later in the day, because the kids are too rowdy to teach after we leave =P hahah. So now we don’t have to be there til 11! Wooo. We sang “the itsy bitsy spider” today, colored with crayons (while teaching the names of the colors), and taught them basic pleasantries like good morning, good night, and thank you.

The one thing that really upset me today was that there were a couple of little boys being bullied by others. The other boys had stuck them in this shed area and were pushing the door shut. The little boys were very scared and trying to push the shed open. In the process, one of the little boys fell and scraped his arm pretty badly. He started crying, big tears rolling down his face.  I turned to one of the teachers (who was ignoring the situation and shutting the door) and said, “Can I take him in? He needs to be washed up.” She just looked at me. I showed her the cut, which was becoming bloody, and she sighed, opened the door, and said “hurry, hurry, hurry” to him. He ran to the back and stuck his arm under the sink. When he came back out, she shut the door and walked off. His arm was still bleeding, so I pulled out a Kleenex from my purse and told him to hold it against the cut. He was still crying, so Sherin scooped him up and took him to sit with her on the bench. They were best friends in no time. However, I was really taken aback by the lack of sympathy for him. I understood that it was a minor cut, but he needed some attention.

Another event quickly followed this. They had a merry-go-round, and a bunch of kids were hanging on it.  They were on their bellies with their faces to the ground, waving their hands off. The merry-go-round wasn’t moving, but I knew that the moment it did, someone would go flying off. I tried to get them off, but they definitely weren’t having any of that. Also, there was a jacked tied to it, dragging on the ground that I could not get it untied. A few minutes later, I turned back around and saw that there was a boy with the jacket around his waist, pulling the merry-go-round round and round and round. One of the kids was hanging off was a little girl; her leg was wrapped around one of the bars on the inside, but her arms and face were dragging in the ground. She was screaming, but the boys kept going and going. No one came to help her. I stopped merry-go-round and pulled her out, trying to untangle her. I tried, again, to get them to stop, but they went right back to it. Again, the big problem is not having enough people there to keep an eye on the kids!

Sherin and I have been talking about it, and we think what is really lacking there is personal connection. Those kids want attention so, so badly. They call all of the women workers “mama” (including us), but they really have no one who treats them like a mother. They are constantly climbing into our laps, wanting to be picked up and hugged. When we were coloring, they wanted us to watch each stroke of their crayon, making sure we were paying attention. The moment one of us said, “oh, that is so pretty!” or “you are doing such a good job!,” they were so happy and proud. The moment we walk into a classroom, there are little fingers reaching up to hold our hands or hug our legs. I would say that this is just them being little kids, but I’ve been around little kids before. There is definitely more neediness in their hugs, hand holding, and kisses than in those of the average child. Most kids will run up, sit on your lap, and then run away to go get something. These kids very jealously guard their spot on your lap, making sure that they get your attention for as long as possible. Even if they don’t learn any English the entire time we are there, I am so glad that we can spend time with them.

Riding the Metro home, we went on the communal section. The women’s section was too crowded, and we couldn’t make ourselves get in there in the heat. We got creeped on hardcore. However, it was way more comfortable, because there was room to sit. The guy across from us kept trying to wink at Sherin. I avoided eye contact with everyone, so it went okay. There was a baby sitting down the row from us that we kept making faces at. We realized that her mama was NOT happy that we were looking. Then, we realized it was because her husband was looking at us. Hahaha. This country is so ridiculous sometimes.

Speaking of ridiculous, yesterday Sherin and I started something while we were riding the taxi home from the metro. We put on ridiculous fake French accents, and began loudly talking about our (fake) lives. Today, the taxi driver began laughing so hard that he turned off the music just to listen to us. We had this whole elaborate story going. It went like this: Sherin had been living in Egypt for 15 years, and I was in Cairo to visit her. I had like fifteen kids, and a husband in Istanbul.  I had lived in Moscow, and spent awhile discussing how the weather in Egypt is so much nicer. Sherin mentioned how much she loves sweating, and how she had given up bathing after moving the Cairo. I asked if she had been to the Pyramids, and she said no. I said, “oh? In fifteen years? You have not been?” She said, “but I hear that they are not finished yet!” I said, “oh, really? Why?” She said, “There are stones missing!” I asked how she knows, and she said “I saw it on the travel channel!” (that part of the conversation was when he turned off the radio). We proceeded to discuss her love affair with Egyptian shwarma, how she has not been to Luxor (but has seen it on the travel channel), and how she needs to find a nice husband. The best part was when I started raving to her about the quality of the taxi driver, and how we needed such drivers in the states of Europe (this was where I slipped up by saying “states” and tried turning it into something reasonable). We stayed in character for a full 15 minutes, paid our fare in accent, and got out of the cab in front of a mosque, Sherin asking me if I wanted to go to the nearest Café (which is comical within itself, because the area we live in has no Cafés).  We’ve decided that that will become a routine part of our commute.

Oh, the other thing I decided today is that I’m going to start hissing back at all the men who hiss at me. I hate the hissing. Hate hate hate. Whistles are fine, comments are fine. However, when men hiss, they sound like mean cats, and I hate it. On our way to the apartment, two men hissed at us. I hissed back, not turning to look at them. Sherin nearly fell over from laughing. Unfortunately, my action had unintended consequences: they thought it was hilarious and kept trying to get our attention. There's really nothing to do but ignore it.


  1. I already want you to bring back 5 little kids for me! I'm glad you're spending time with the little ones and just giving them some attention.
    Your French accent story is awesome :)

    1. I wish I could bring home 5 for me and 5 for you! They are beyond adorable! The French accent adds so much entertainment to the commute!

  2. What is the hissing all it another form of a whistle? Be careful. (Sorry, I'm sounding like a mom.) :)

    1. Hissing is another way to whistle or show approval for how a woman looks. Oh, I'm always careful! These men aren't dangerous, but they like to harass women.