In no particular order:

Ramadan seems to be the most fun for children. They get to stay up late, they’re totally accepted into the adult world for one glorious month. They run around at 3 in the morning, energetic from a day of sleep, and encouraged by their parents who seem to think it’s funny. The children here may be more accepted into the adult functions in general, I haven’t done enough “participant observation,” or sitting at coffee shops smoking sheesha and drinking delicious beverages I’ve never had before, to know for sure.

Chivalry isn’t dead, Honey, it moved to Egypt. Not that men treat women with the respect they deserve, well not all men anyway, but they do make sure women don’t get hurt. Since the sidewalks are often blocked or gross, we walk on the street, which means dodging cars and being mindful of any passing vehicle. The men, usually, take the outside when walking with a woman, as to be the first one hit if a car veers too close. They also like to open doors for women. That seems to be as far as it goes but, again, further observation and documentation is needed.*

There seem to be more homeless women in Cairo. Women, and their daughters often, sell small things like tissue at the coffee shops. They sleep on the street, in very public places. Maybe the parks are more dangerous, I don’t know. There are homeless men too, same as in the US, but seeing a mother and her two daughters (or a woman and two girls) sleeping on the side of a very busy sidewalk is strange and completely depressing. I tried to talk to the Broker about this more because I know that the Koran speaks of philanthropy and actually requires volunteerism and community service, so why are these women homeless? He didn’t have a good answer. He didn’t blame them though and seemed to think that the government was responsible for not providing welfare services to those who needed it.

That brings me to the welfare state. I know that some in the US may have a problem with the current system of aid in the US given to women with children, families, the mentally ill, etc. I’ve heard that they think we give too much and that it isn’t effective. From my experience in Liberia and Egypt, I would say the while the US government doesn’t have a perfect system and doesn’t lift everyone out of poverty, at least it exists. Without a welfare system, US city streets would be overrun with those who need shelter, food, and clothing because, let’s be realistic, society does not, and never has, benefited everyone in the same way. I know, this sounds like a lot of common sense, but I worry that it’s not.

It’s like rights and responsibilities. We all have human rights, but we also have responsibilities to maintain those rights. We have the right to good health, we have the responsibility to ensure that we are healthy, go to the doctor, don’t smoke (yeah, I know), etc. We have the right to vote, we have the responsibility to do it. That’s probably the most important lesson I learned in Liberia. Rights and responsibilities.

But let me step off my soap box for a minute.

My personal adventure is going well. I’m registered for the classes I want, Intro to International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, Writing and researching for human rights, and Human rights in Africa. All my classes are on the old campus, which is, as far as I can tell, extraordinarily cooler than the new AUC campus. The new campus is in a suburb that doesn’t really exist yet. The buildings are all being built, the desert stretches past the few apartment complexes. It’s like an oasis of modernity. It’s awful. The new campus is surrounded by parking lots. Why they couldn’t build a parking garage so as to make a more aesthetically interesting campus, confuses me. But there, in the center of desert, empty in progress buildings, and suburban parking lot, lies an architecturally interesting, if over thought, complex of connected buildings stretching over a mile. The facilities are brand new, the indoor track has never been stepped on, the dormitories have had few guests, the library has yet to lose any books to forgetful students. There’s something incredibly unreal about it all.

*The smile is implied, as emoticons seem silly on a blog.
** I tried to post pics but so far, no.