Tuesday, February 22, 2011

After the revolution...

We arrived back in Egypt Sunday, and I started teaching yesterday. For now, I can give my initial impressions of my arrival. The sky was grey since there have been khamisin (sandstorms) this week. We went from the airport back to our apartment. I only saw one tank, which was a huge change from our trip to the airport when we left. Then, they were everywhere. On the ride in, the one I saw was parked in front of the J. W. Marriott Hotel, which is large compound out in the desert. It was pretty inconspicuous.

As we came into the neighborhood, I saw a few things that really excited me. On Road 216, there were a dozen or so young teenagers painting the curbs of the median on the road. It looked good. Then we made another turn onto Road 254 and there was another group of teenagers, mostly girls, a little bit older, also doing some work. They were fixing a busted up sidewalk which is right along a route I take to the bus stop everyday. And that big pile of garbage which I would pass daily for two years was bundled up into a few dozen bags. Lamposts that were dug up as barricades are replanted in the ground. There are Egyptian flags everywhere. This is one view of the revolution and young Egyptians are taking pride in their city and their environment. It makes perfect sense, but there is something really amazing in seeing it. As we continued toward home, the midans in the neighborhood had newly painted curbs and especially well-tended gardens. There are still quite a few potholes in the street, primarily from the barricades that folks had set up in the neighborhood a few weeks ago.

On campus, the service workers (security and custodians) were on strike, which is great to see. There are striking workers throughout the country—working folks have learned the lessons from Tahrir Square and putting them into practice in extraordinary ways right away. It was great to reconnect with colleagues. I enjoyed my time with my students, and look forward to more classroom time. On the way home from campus, I saw a few more tanks, but still fewer than before I left.

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