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AUC?

 
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xnihil



Joined: 06 May 2003
Posts: 92
Location: Egypt

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 12:29 pm    Post subject: AUC? Reply with quote

Posted on Egypt and General Middle East site also:

I have been accepted to the American University of Cairo MA in TEFL
program. I would like to hear from anyone who's either had any experience
with the program, AUC in general or living in Cairo.

I've heard that AUC has a bit of a lightweight reputation so I'm curious to
hear about how rigorous their academic standards are.

I've read several posts about how Egypt is becoming less friendly for
Americans, can anyone corroborate, deny or amplify these observations?

Finally, if I do go, I have to decide whether or not my wife (also American)
should accompany me. She is of Armenian background and might blend in
better than some, but she's not accustomed to dressing or acting
conservatively. Will she hate it there?
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12166
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 4:31 pm    Post subject: Armenian-American Lady in Cairo Reply with quote

Will your Armenian wife hate it in Cairo ?
YES !
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M@tt



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 473
Location: here and there

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, I am acquainted with one of the professors from the AUC program. He might be on a sort of sabbatical right now. Anyway, I can try to dig up his email for you.

Once I ran across a VERY interesting article about AUC in a journal. I wish I could remember which one--you might like to read it if you have access to a university library. It basically talked about the clash of ideals that happens at the AUC, since a "liberal arts" education is at odds with some of the values / laws of Arabic culture in Egypt. I won't comment further on the article because it's not fresh in my mind. I'm sure you could do a search for it on the web. Heck, I'll just do that now.

Okay, I think this is the one:
Title: Cultural Diversity or Cultural Imperialism: Liberal Education in Egypt.
Author: Blanks, David R
Source: Liberal Education; v84 n3 p30-35 Sum 1998

The title sounds lame but it was actually a good article. By the way, I posted a very negative report on my experience travelling in Egypt under the job info journal. I think the title was "Reception of Whites in Egypt". Since then my feelings have softened a bit, but everything in it is true. Cairo is a wonderful horrible place. If you love big cities, frenetic energy, heat, you will probably love Cairo. It makes a very big difference who you know, I'll say that much. In essence, if you have any close Egyptian friends, all their acquaintances will probably adopt you into their world and look out for you. I am fortunate in that my roommate is Egyptian and that broke down lots of walls in my travels, but it was by no means an easy experience. Even for him.

Regarding your wife, I would reiterate an observation/feeling that I described in the journal entry. During the day, there are virtually NO women anywhere in public. Walk out on the streets and you will see that literally 99% of the pedestrians and drivers are men. It will help a lot if your wife is brown, and there are certainly plenty of Egyptian women who do not cover themselves in public (they do dress fairly conservatively, however). There is really quite a range, but she should be prepared to feel uncomfortable just walking through the streets. At night it's different, since lots of families come out and some women in couples or groups go shopping. This was my experience in the summer, anyway, when it is very hot.

Do you have other experiences with Arab culture or Egyptians? That should help with the inevitable culture shock, but I'll warn you that Gulf Arabs and Arabs from the Levant or N. Africa are quite different people, with different cultures. They share some traits, but the only uniting quality I can think of in all my Arab acquaintances is their hatred of Israel. I would guess that this is what holds the Arab world together, since many of them hate each other too. Feel free to criticize this assertion if you think it's totally unfounded.

In sum: if you can tolerate a place like Mexico City or Rome or Los Angeles, and you have a special love for the people that motivates your wanting to do an MA in Cairo, go for it. If you lack either of these qualities I probably wouldn't bother. My experience is fairly limited, however, and I hope others respond.
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xnihil



Joined: 06 May 2003
Posts: 92
Location: Egypt

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

M@TT,

Thanks very much for the informative post. My wife and I spent a year in Lebanon and we had a great time, even when we travelled to Syria and Jordan, but I'm getting the impression that Egypt is drastically different. Is this true?

I'm perfectly prepared for "big cities, frenetic energy, heat" as that is pretty much the national motto of Beirut. What I'd like to avoid as much as possible, however, is overt and oppressive hostility. If at all possible I'd also like to not get kidnapped, beat up or shot at. Is this too much to expect of Al-Qahera?

I'd like to hear something from women who've lived in Cairo. Did you find you daily activities unpleasantly restricted because of attention on the street? How did you go shopping or get to work and back?

Again thanks a lot for your advice, M@TT.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15963
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi X

I also answered your message on the Egypt board. I'm not sure where Matt was in Egypt, but I lived in Cairo for years and there were always women on the streets - most veiled, many not. I went everywhere I wanted by myself and never had a problem. After about a week, you don't hear the men - rather like if you live near a big construction site in the US and you have to walk by the workmen every day. I walked everywhere by myself or with friends, took taxis the same. All one needs is a minimal amount of common sense. As I said on the Egypt board, PM me if you have specific questions. Also, I got my MA at AUC.
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M@tt



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 473
Location: here and there

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 6:08 am    Post subject: More on Egypt Reply with quote

Hello again,
If you've spent a year in Beirut, I don't think you will have a terrible adjustment to Egypt per se. I've never been to Beirut, so I can't comment with any authority. I only hear from every Arab I meet that in Beirut, "anything goes and they are sooooo free." Whatever that means! At any rate, Egypt is certainly more conservative than Lebanon and according to some people, that trend is increasing. However, I didn't feel that it was suffocatingly conservative or that it would be too difficult for a woman who has lived in Lebanon. Remember, it's a HUGE HUGE city so there is a wide range of 'types' there.
It was suffocatingly polluted and dirty, though.

Cairo is drastically different from everywhere.

I doubt that overt or hostile oppression will ever be a problem. I also doubt you will ever be physically assaulted, kidnapped, or even poked. I don't think I've heard of anything like that happening except in Upper Egypt (down south, actually, toward Luxor). When I was in Egypt, tourists were few and far between but police were wandering around everywhere. There are lots of tourist police whose job is to make sure westerners don't have an awful time. Of course it's an impossible job, but they are making efforts to bring back tourism by looking out for whitey.

Who can you really trust in the Middle East? I don't know, but the tourist police seemed genuine and made me feel a little better. Um, except that one in Giza who tried to con us.

Getting back to the point, I also don't think your wife will have particular problems walking around, shopping, and even taking taxis in Cairo alone. She will likely get used to any mild unpleasantness and the fact that all foreigners are targets, not for violence or hostility, but for GETTING RIPPED OFF. THAT is what they're interested in, more than anything. And despite what Veiledsentiments says, I saw virtually no women anywhere during the day. We're talking about 1%, and I have a hundred photos to prove it. Additionally, almost all women wear a headscarf but very few are veiled, so that won't be a problem. It's totally optional.

Finally, anything you heard about the AUC being lightweight is probably due to the students being the rich and privileged, not necessarily the gifted and talented. This doesn't mean it's a bad university, though. I've heard mostly positive things about it, and nothing remarkably negative. Incidentally, I think they are / have moved to an entirely new campus that is not located in the middle of the city like the previous one. This could affect where you live, your daily routines, etc.

I could just ramble forever, aimlessly, but I will spare you by going to bed.
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lotusblossom



Joined: 19 May 2003
Posts: 2
Location: Cairo

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 1:38 am    Post subject: Your wife.... Reply with quote

The experience of living in Cairo and being an American woman can vary.
Totally depends on where you live. If you live in Maadi, no problem. There is an American Community Center even! Library, gym, cooking classes, the works...
If you live in other areas, not so easy to get around and do stuff.
If you or your wife have questions, just email me. I am an American living here.
lotusblossom@hotmail.com
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xnihil



Joined: 06 May 2003
Posts: 92
Location: Egypt

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lotusblossom,

Thanks for the post.

The university will provide a housing allowance of LE 680/month. Do you think this is enough for a flat not too far from AUC? What kind of place do you thin we could get for that kind of money?
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lotusblossom



Joined: 19 May 2003
Posts: 2
Location: Cairo

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 10:08 pm    Post subject: Flat Reply with quote

Well, depends on how close you want to be to AUC. Some of my friends that work there live near me in Maadi but I am not sure of the commute. Public transportation here is a big hassle.
Anyway, you can get a place for that amount. Furnished, I am not sure about. Also, a lot depends on how long you intend to stay. A long term contract will do you much better for renting. Now, I will tell you to never use an agent. The doormen that watch buildings, clean them, take care of them, etc..., they are the ones to know. They are very well connected. Once you decide on an area, I will see what I can come up with.
Did you give your wife my email address? Tell her I will be more than happy to answer any question about living here and being a woman that she might not want to say on an open board.
Also, we have a web group for women living or going to live in egypt. It is called womeg. Its a Yahoo group. If she searches for it, she will find it under womeg. To join is easy and she will get a clear picture from other at AUC or that went there plus people just living here and loving it.
Its a bit late, my thoughts are becoming random so I will go now.
Email if you want to avoid posting here.
Let me know what area you are intersted in. The money is enough but not sure if furnished though and short term contracts are okay.
How long will you be here?
Mandy
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7734



Joined: 22 Oct 2005
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:55 pm    Post subject: AUC TEFL Reply with quote

A friend, an Egyptian, just finished his MA in TEFL from AUC.

He's in Australia, and he tells me they don't take his degree seriously.

Some of the professors in that particular department are a little... insecure, to say the least.

My advice is to happily agree with everything you are told by those guys, and in an idoiticaly enthusiastic manner that says, "yes, yes, you're right. Everything you say is correct. Nothing could be otherwise. You seem like a genius. Aren't I lucky to bask in the glow of your intellect?"

Seriously, they'll black-ball you if you ask a sincere question, and act as though you are challenging the second-hand ideas they have never dared to question.

But most of academia is that way, and they're not bad guys -- just nervous. Seems most of them have come from a university in the States where they didn't make tenure.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15963
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say that your friend has encountered more of prejudice against Egyptians... ie non-native speakers teaching English in Australia - than anything to do with the MA from AUC - which is fully accredited. Heaven only know what you are talking about that the professors are 'insecure.' A couple who have been there since I got my MA are tenured professors who just happen to prefer living in Cairo, in spite of your opinion of that professional choice. The others have been hired to replace professors who moved on to new jobs or retired, just like everywhere in the world. Generally I would have to say that you apparently know little or nothing of the university, the acceptance of the degree, or how good or bad its professors are compared to any of the other MA programs around the world. Just like every place else, the faculty is a mix of good, bad, and mediocre. I wouldn't expect an American based MA from Cairo to impress the Aussie educational system any more than an Aussie MA would impress in LA... especially if you are a non-native speaker trying to enter an already overfilled field where local native speakers can't get jobs.

If one plans to stay in the ME to teach, this is an MA that will put you in a very good position for the best paying jobs in the Gulf.

VS
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7734



Joined: 22 Oct 2005
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 4:26 pm    Post subject: yeah, right Reply with quote

Sure, yeah.

In all seriousness, if you want to be perceived as legitimate you should avoid AUC for anything other than Middle Eastern/Arabian studies.

There are certainly decent programmes there in Arab literature, religion and philosophy; but you wouldn't want to tell somebody you learned how to teach English there.

Unless you couldn't get into a proper university.

[this is where VS changes the subject to semantics; "... and this all depends on what you mean by 'is' in the previous clause..."]
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