Cairo 1

posted by Justin Duffy on October 15th, 2005

Man, I wish it would rain. Somehow that really sums Cairo up for me at the moment. I guess it may also seem somehow incongruous for those of you in Worcester, which has been getting drenched as far as I can understand. But rain falling on Cairo would be…magnificent.

OK, back up. I’m not sure if these posts will even really be appropriate for pieandcoffee, as I don’t expect to write anything really socio-politically relevant. However, I do hope these posts will be interesting in one form or another or for some reason or another.

At the moment I am about mid-way through a fever which has yet to turn belligerent, lying on our uncomfortable couch typing with my housemate Simon‘s laptop, watching my other housemate Lee eat some Pizza Hut pizza, and listening to Beck’s “Lost Cause”. Lee just said “God, since I came here to, you know, ‘find myself’ I promised myself I wouldn’t party or eat Pizza Hut or anything.” Chomp.

(Parenthetical insert at the request of Lee: He is not really a self absorbed prick. I can vouch for this. He is a cool guy with a great sense of humor and some really astute positive observations on Cairo. He and my housemate Simon will probably feature prominently in future posts in a generally positive light.)

I am teaching English classes on Monday and Wednesday night to men and women from Cairo, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Sudan. Many of my students are refugees from Sudan, and all of them are looking to improve their English so they can get jobs. Along with a couple other teachers who also work with the Beginner 3 class, I have been trying to teach general conversational English (like how to order food at a restaurant) as well as grammar. If anyone knows of any good online resources for this kind of thing (which I am sure there are) please let me know.

I have only been teaching for a few weeks, so I don’t even know all the students’ names yet, but there are a few memorable characters. Salah ed-Din, a forty something year old man who is always very polite and quiet, “the kid who always sits on my left” who frequently asks me about expressions from TV shows (for instance: “What is the word dam?” After I explain, he lets me know that he is not interested in dams, what he wants to figure out is: daaaammmn!), a quiet young woman from Cairo who speaks English very well but I think she is really shy, and many others. The other AUC students I teach with are really amazing too.

After my Monday night class I hope to have something more substantial about this, but for now I have to admit that teaching these classes has been the best thing I have done here. The joy that everyone brings to the classroom despite obvious hardship in their lives and the friendliness of all the students in every class is overwhelming. Each time I leave a class that has gone well I feel great, and if it didn’t go well…then I feel motivated to make the next one great. This may sound sappy, but it’s really true. Hopefully I can explain this better after Monday evening.

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