Thursday, August 28, 2008

I am so very oriented...

This week brought the official orientation given by AUC. Whew! It wiped both of us out, and everyone else we know. It started on Monday, we met at the Midan Victoria and caught the bus out to the new campus. There were some familiar faces, Mark and Gordana, Brandon, Malek, Steve and Stephanie, Hanan. And then we met LOTS of new people! Getting to know them has probably been my favorite part of the week. There's Amanda from Atlanta, she's going to be a librarian. She's super fun and I can tell we're going to be buds. Ana is a Fullbright here from Miami, she writes for the Herald (as well as having written a couple of best sellers!) and is going to be in the Journalism dept. Amy and Leonard both do Middle East Studies, Amy is in Ira's dept, Leonard is in Philosophy. There lots of others, but I guess I ended up connecting with them the most. So we made our way to the new campus. I'm sad to say that my camera battery died, I guess after all those pics in Dahab! So I don't have anything to show, yet. But it is amazing, an architectual feat to say the least. All the way out in the desert, a beautiful, sprawling structure with shade and light, green and sand. Although, it's not finished! There were dudes in hard hats everywhere and I would say that the overall theme of the orientation was "patience". I don't know how many times someone would ask a question like "when will we have computers?" "when can we get into our offices?" "Where can I print out my syllabus?" and they were met with "We don't know" I really feel for all of the new faculty. I can't imagine starting a job and not knowing where you're going to have classes, or how you're going to prepare for them. But everyone is taking it in stride, for the most part. So, the first day we heard from the provost and the president of the university. They were very enthusiastic and hopeful for the new campus and the new faculty. Then, we all stood up and introduced ourselves. I normally don't have any issues with speaking in public, but I have to say I was nervous. Especially when everyone that went before me had these amazing resumes. Even the interns are from Stanford, Columbia, Hopkins, Harvard....! So I it was finally my turn and I said that I worked with autistic children in the states and that I was hoping to fill the yoga void in our neighborhood by teaching. Well. Who would have thought that would have illicited such a response! Afterwards, I had few women some up to me and asked me to keep them informed if I find a place to teach. THEN, a guy named Jonah came over and told me that his wife is starting a "yoga co-op". I talked to her that night and basically what she's doing is renting a space where she's not charging the students very much but the teachers would still make more than they would other places because there's no middle man! Perfect! We're having our first meeting on saturday and it looks like I'll be teaching up to 4 classes a week! And then the president's wife came over and asked me if I could help out in the daycare if they ever have any special needs children. Ira was like "Did you know that was the president's wife?!" haha I have to say it felt good to have people talk to me about something other than Egypt for the first time all summer! The rest of the day was filled with (rather boring for non-faculty) tours and talks. And there was a nice lunch on the president's terrace. Nice, but a little hot baking in the 105 degree heat! We were all so tired at the end of the day that I can't believe the bus home wasn't full of nappers!
Day 2 was a little better. The bus came later and we were at the old campus. Not as hot, and we had some really useful presentations on health and safety in Cairo, and we had an Arabic lesson! Not easy, let me tell you. I don't know if it's my music backround, but it bothers me that I can hear the instructor saying it one way and then it doesn't sound like that when I say it. I guess I'm being too perfectionist about it...Later that night a bunch of Maadi people met up for Chinese and we had a blast. More and more people kept coming and we took over the place eventually. At one point, Mark and Gordana's boys were playing under the table and all of the sudden they each plunked a full beer can down on the table! We have no idea where they came from! Under the table, obviously, but we have no idea how they got there! It was hilarious to say the least. It's really great to be able to laugh again. Not that Ira and I haven't had our moments, but to laugh really loud in group of people like that, it was awesome.
Day 3 was great for Gordana and me! We skipped out at 10:30 after Arabic lessons! We met up with Kathleen and baby Andy for lunch and did a little shopping. We even went to the 2.5 pounds store! Like the dollar store! Well, the 46 cent store...anyway, it was just like it is in the states. I even saw a gift bag with a veiled Barbie on it! Last night we babysat the Wetmoreland boys, and had our "Ramadan Beer" delivered. Since they don't sell booze during Ramadan (which starts monday) we thought we better stock up. And just like almost everything else, we had it delivered!
And today, the last day, we had our last "Survival Arabic" class (we're both signing up for tutoring in the coming weeks) and then we had a lunch where they also had tables set up with different leisure activities in and around Cairo. Ira is sick now, I think he might be dehydrated. The heat is really bad but he's been resting all day (sleeping actually) and drinking lots of water. Hopefully he feels better tomorrow because tomorrow night we have a ride on a felluca! AUC has chartered a bunch to float down the Nile while we have dinner! I can't wait. And then Saturday we have a garden party at the Provost's house. I promise I'll be better about posting...and I'll charge the camera batteries!


Laurie said...

Sounds like you are getting a fun gang together to hang out with. Such interesting people to get to know. Sounds very orienting. miss you!

Shara said...

Hey Jenna! This all sounds great. I'm so glad that you'll be teaching and that you're finding your own way over there. I'm still working on a visit.