Being in Cairo, I had expected to be woken up by the call to prayer from the minaret, but instead I am woken by a cacophony of barking. The police kennels are just across the road, with about 140 dogs – so it can get noisy! In fact, there is also an equestrian ground next to the kennels, but the horses are fewer in number and generally less noisy!
It is wonderful to be in Cairo. My flights were super, and I encountered no problems whatsoever at the airport. Mina, one of my new colleagues was there to welcome me and take me to the College where I have a flat (what they call a ‘suite’) in the Dorms. I am on the 4th Floor (which is a bit misleading, as when you walk down the stairs you discover it is actually the 7th!), and there are 10 student rooms on my floor (which they share, two to a room) with my suite at the end of the corridor. Part of my role here is to interact with the students, so it is good to be surrounded by them.
I arrived just at the end of the Easter break, and at church on Sunday I did a double-take when the Gospel reading was about the risen Jesus appearing to Thomas (the church here marks the ‘Eastern’ calendar, so Easter this year was about five weeks later than the Western date). However, now everyone seems to be returning now from their homes, mostly in Upper Egypt.
I am writing this on my 4th full day here, but already I feel so much at home. I seem to have the ability to settle quickly, but this has been helped by the warmth of the welcome I have received. People are incredibly kind and genuinely want to help. That applies to the students and staff at the College but also the people around. I have caught the underground into town and explored the surrounding neighbourhoods, and have felt very safe. In fact, the only danger is getting lost in the maze of alleyways. I have always prided myself in my sense of direction, but I have put that firmly to the test.
The staff here are mostly Egyptian, but with a few expats, mostly American, but I will be working in the Development Office and will be in charge of International Affairs (More about my role here in a future post). There are four of us in the office: Mariam is overall in charge, a pharmacist who has 18 year old twins, but who has worked for the College for several years now; Mina is a highly personable young man, newly married, and with super communication skills: and finally Marlein who has only been in the office for 6 months, but she is practising her English on me, and I am practising my Arabic on her. It is quite a thought to share an office with three others, after years of having my own office, but they are super people and very supportive.
As well as waking to the sound of dogs barking, I also waken to a sense of real anticipation as to what each day will bring. It is a privilege to be here and I am looking forward to being part of College and Church life here.