JWE 02 - 10 - 2010

We arrived in Egypt around 2 o'clock in the morning and from the moment we entered our first hotel in Cairo, it felt like I was in a different world. We had just spent the last 5 days in Turkey and that was eye opening in itself, as it was completely different from any of the cities I had experienced up to that point. Hearing the call to prayer ring loudly through the streets, seeing and meeting the Turkish people that we did, and walking through the bizarres showed me a side of humanity and the world that I could never have experienced in Indiana or even in my brief travels through the states. So when we arrived in Egypt,l I felt somewhat prepared for how different it would be from what I'm accustomed to, but it still amazed and surprised me in so many ways. Of course the Pyramids of Giza, Karnak temple, the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Isis, and the Avenue of the Sphinxes and the numerous other sites of the ancient world that we were lucky enough to explore during our time in Egypt offered a great amount of educational opportunity for our design senses, but thats just the tip of what I'll take home with me from my experience in Egypt. Driving through run down streets, through a landscape of unfinished buildings with satellite dishes attached to stairways open to the cloudless Egyptian sky, seeing donkeys taking people up and down the highway alongside honking cars, riding camels through a small farming community along the Nile river, or watching men, women and children pick sugar cane in the fields from the window of our train or as we drifted down the Nile gave me a new appreciation and understanding of how differently people can live their lives as well as how fortunate I am to live my own. It made me think a lot about our question of whether or not there is or is not one world culture. I saw a side of culture that was as unique and different from me and my "culture" as any other one I had ever experienced. At the same time there were moments in Egypt that reminded me of just how alike we all are as well. While sketching the Sphinx in Cairo, three little girls that were supposed to be pushing postcards on people for any cash they could get, like so many others (sadly many of them being young children) were doing at every tourist stop we made, came up and gathered around me sketching for a few minutes. They kept asking to see my sketch and were full of compliments and interest. They didn't even try to sell me a single thing. It was like they forgot about the postcards in their hands completely. In what I assume is a hard life for a little girl to lead, it was amazing to watch them forget about being sales people and just be children or a few minutes. Their innocence came through for a brief moment and it made me think of how alike we all are even if we are on completely different journeys through life. Riding camels through a farming village along the Nile didn't just give me a look at this unique way of life and literally a new perspective on the architecture of the place. It also gave me the chance to talk to a kid from the village who was guiding my camel about his village, both of our schooling, and even our shared interest in futbol. It reminded me that we are all still just people, no matter how different or alike we may seem. Top Image: children selling postcards in Egypt and I while sketching Bottom Image: walking through temple in Egypt

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