Sunday, August 31, 2008

Orientation (or the week before the felucca ride)

The orientation that we spent the last week attending included lots of what one expects from these kinds of forums. There were general introductions, an explanation of health benefits, payroll paperwork to complete, greetings from administrators, a library tour, a technology session, a research and professional development grant session, and a teaching panel. Then there were some things more specific for beginning at AUC—“survival Arabic” lessons, living in Cairo discussions, and a felucca ride (see my previous posting).

The first day of the week was held at the new campus in New Cairo, which is a new development in the middle of the desert. It is a remarkable project with a lot of promise. The problem is that it is not done and classes begin one week from today. Truthfully, it is not really close to being done. I am not sure what will happen either. Probably we will spend the first few weeks in classes without technology and in offices without computers. My building—Humanities and Social Sciences—is better off than most; the School of Business is worse off than we are and only Performing and Visual Arts is ready to go. (If this construction timetable is a metaphor, I do like the priorities it suggests!) On the whole, I am patiently prepared to be unprepared.

Adding to the challenges are the start of Ramadan tomorrow—which means that the construction workers who have been working pretty close to round-the-clock will need to change their schedules. It is from hard to impossible, and certainly dangerous, to do construction work in 105 degree desert heat without drinking any water. I need to go to the campus a couple of days this week and will see what things look like when I am there. Maybe I will take some pictures…

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