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):
Our Project GO and Dialogue students were treated to an evening with three families of Syrians who are in Amman, as refugees from the Syrian civil war. We broke our group of 29 students plus 5 staff and translators into three groups. My group was hosted by a family of 9: 6 children (3 boys, 3 girls), their parents, and their aunt (mom's sister). Of course we provided the funds so that the families could prepare food without the expense of feeding our group; we arranged this with a friend of mine (Ms. Dema) who works with Syrian families all over Jordan. And of course, we also left a donation to the families for whatever purposes they see fit.
It was a beautiful night, according to all three of our different groups. I found tonight both heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. Hearing the stories of war, families split apart, mothers disappeared, fathers shot and wounded and unable to work, children unable to attend schools for whatever bureaucratic or financial r…