my experiences leading students to Jordan, Egypt, Oman, Turkey, the Balkans, and beyond
Egypt's Referendum Day (part 1)
It's a chilly, smoggy morning in Cairo as Egyptians (how many? and
of what "persuasion"? - these are 2 of the biggest questions) go to the
polls today to begin voting on an Islamist-crafted Constitution. Only
about half of Egypt votes today; the other half next Saturday.
My friend Abduh is already out at the polls with reporters. He (and I) will update things as the day progresses. Stay tuned!
(above) Cops sharing a cup o' tea - no demonstrators here to worry about...
(below) "NO to the Constitution" on the Egyptian flag
(below) long lines of men (on left) and women (on right) in our area of Cairo (Zamalek)
(below) "le" (no) on a waste-basket on a light pole. Women queuing up to vote.
“You can’t cross this boundary from here [the Kosovo “border”/Administrative boundary].You’ll have to go to Montenegro and then enter Serbia from there.”Thus sayeth the Serbian policeman at the boundary/border, yesterday (Thursday) around 3:30 pm.The reason?We had a stamp on our passports that read “Republic of Kosovo”, which Serbia does not recognize as independent nation-state (nor do a small number of nation-states of the international community – Russia, Spain, Greece, and 6 other members of the EU).“Kosovo is Serbia.”What he was proposing was for us to “re-enter” Kosovo (1/4th of a mile back from where we came); return to the town of Mitroveca (where we just left 90 minutes ago); cut over to the West, and enter Montenegro (another 90 minutes-2 hours); then drive to the Montenegro-Serbia border (another hour); then drive until we catch up with the road we could have been on – only one hour from the point on the map where we were standing that very moment: the “boundary/border” bet…
Nearing the end of Week 1 of the Dialogue/Project GO program, all students are well, in their appropriate Arabic classes, settled into their apartments, and have already started their history, politics, and foreign policy lectures as well.
Below are some pictures from some of the above activities; first 5 pics are from Mt. Nebo ("Mount of the Prophet" [Moses], where Moses saw the Promised Land) and the last 2 are from today's lecture with Dr. Badr Al-Madi, University of Jordan and formerly with the Royal Court.
AND BELOW IS MY FAVORITE "BARBERSHOP QUARTET", the Shabaab of the Dialogue: Raed (our faithful bus driver), Nidal (the "Big Boss" and Brains of Bright Star Travel), Charles (the peripatetic Baron of BCARS), and my new brother Rami (driver extraordinaire and otherwise caretaker of us all in his Hybrid Toyota):
We began today with a tour of the "tunel", the tunnel of Sarajevo that served as THE LIFELINE for the city during most of the siege. It was built over 4 months in 1992, and it ran UNDERNEATH the airport runway. The tunnel served as a 2-way highway, with 3,000 people per day using it (on especially busy days). Food, medicine, and other supplies came into Sarajevo; soldiers came out of Sarajevo and into the "Free Bosnian Territory" (see map below; the man providing the explanation lived in the house where the tunnel begins; that house is now a museum).
After the tunnel visit, we spent an hour at the "spring of Bosna", the natural springs that are the origins of the River Bosna, from which the country Bosnia gets its name. This is a breathtaking park/nature reserve/spring. None of us had ever been here ... it is now a "must" for any future Balkans Dialogues!