Archive for Uncategorized

The New Habit of Spending Money Illegally

AUC students meet up late at night and have poker nights where they spend a lot of money, and also use drugs and alcohol.

Recently, it has become noticeable, that a significant number of students began a new trend. They meet up on weekends, after going out to clubs of cafes and have poker nights. Not only do they have these poker nights on weekends. But during the week, these poker nights are the outing.  Poker playing is fast becoming a popular pass-time for students at the American University in Cairo, who find the risk of losing money as exhilarating as the alcohol and drugs they consume. For some, it’s a time-consumer game.

People gathered around a table at a house and playing poker

“If I have a midterm the next day, I try not to play poker,” said Hisham Ahmed*, an accounting junior at the American University of Cairo (AUC). “One poker night can last up to nine hours. As my parents do not live with me here, I don’t really have a problem in getting home so late- or more like so early in the morning.”

Poker players on campus point to AUC junior, Kamal Mohamed* as  their “master” in poker.

“Kamal* taught me and all the other guys how to play and he only wins,” said Ahmed Shawky*, an AUC undeclared junior.

“I have been playing for five years now,” said Mohamed*. “My parents have no idea whatsoever, and luckily I almost only win.”

It also involved alcohol and drugs

Salah Sakr* an undeclared junior at AUC, on the other hand almost always loses.

“The majority of all poker nights take place at his house, because he lives in an apartment alone,” said Ahmed*. “So we know that no one will come while we are playing, getting drunk and high. But Salah* is the one who loses the most money of all of us. I used to lose a lot, but know I have started to win also.”

“A small game lasts about five hours,” said Shawky*. “I win a lot thank God, but I also lose sometimes. We play on average twice a week, but if we don’t have exams, it could go up to almost daily.”

People playing poker while drinking

Bassem Issa* an Architecture junior at AUC, spends almost all of his money on poker.

“I play until I reach to the point, where I play from the money I’m supposed to pay my monthly apartment rent with, as I live with a friend here in Cairo,” he said. “It has become really addictive, and I don’t care that I spend all my money. I mean we have fun, drink and get high at the same time; it only needs a couple of girls and it would be the best nights ever.”

Another undeclared junior at AUC, Ragab Amr* faces a similar problem.

“I lose almost all my money and owe a lot of my friends so much money,” he said. “It once happened to me that I didn’t have enough money to pay the bus ride ticket to AUC and had to call Kamal. He came and lent me some money.”

*the names have been changed, because all students want their identities to remain anonymous.


Thanksgiving on Wakfet Arafat

Two weeks ago, it was Thanksgiving. On that exact same day, it was also a Muslim holiday “wakfet arafat“, which is when the Pilgrims in Mekkah stand on Mount Arafat. Muslims all over the world fast on that day.

A unique  event is being able to celebrate both of these events even when they occurred on the same day. I was lucky enough to be able to do that. While me and my family were fasting, we were invited at an American family for a Thanksgiving dinner. It was an interesting experience. Me and my family broke out fasting through that meal. There was a toast that was followed by people drinking wine.

It was a very meaningful evening and it was nice to have been able to be a part of it.

About the Poker Story

About a month ago, we were assigned in a Mass Media Writing course to find a story on students’ life off campus. The majority of our stories were on drug abuse, sex and drinking. These are of course very sensitive topics, especially here in Egypt. We all tried to either change the names of the students or avoid mentioning names at all of the people who were interviewed.

I personally wrote about students who play poker on large amounts of money regularly. It was not difficult to gather information, because I have a lot of friends who play a lot of poker and constantly have poker nights. They talk about it in front of me and other friends but they still did not want anything to be officially published about them. When I told them I would be writing about it and took information from them, they all made sure that their names were changed in the article, especially because it was later published in the Caravan, which is our university newspaper.

But thank God, after the article was out, they were all very happy to read about it, and I felt very proud of myself.

Radio Ad

Delicious Portion of Nuddles with Tomato Sauce

About a week ago, we were assigned to write a radio script in a Mass Media Writing course. However, our professor then decided to cancel that assignment. As I am taking an advertising course I have already written a radio script before, not long ago (less than a month ago). It was an ad for a pasta sauce which comes in 4 flavors, Carbonara, Pesto, Napolitano & Blue cheese. It comes in ready jars. For the Napolitano and the Pesto, all you have to do is add 2 spoons of sauce to 2 cups of water until it boils, then add 1 table spoon of row olive oil to it. When it is thick, it can be immediately served. As for the Carbonara & Blue cheese, all you have to do is add 2 spoons of sauce to 2 cups of milk and stir until it is thick and can be served.

Here is what I wrote:

The brand name I chose is “Sciolto”, which is an Italian word meaning easy. I used it, because it indicates that it is easy to prepare.

The promise I made in my ad is that it is natural, meaning that they use fresh ingredients. The support is the sound of someone in the background who is enjoying the smell and taste of the product.

My target is the A class women who do not have time to cook a sauce themselves (because they work or/and have to take care of children), but still want a product with a good quality and healthy.

Background Noises Audio
Music playing in background The new pasta sauce from Italy’s finest fresh ingredients
Sound of nature (leaves) All natural, without artificial components
Sound of someone cooking, stirring Easy to cook, only needing to add water or milk to the sauce and stirring
Sound of someone smelling something Smells delicious…
Sound of someone enjoy the taste of the sauce And tastes even better
Music playing in background, while sounds of people in a restaurant talking in the background For all those pasta lovers, comes in 4 flavors: Pesto, Napolitano, Carabonara and Blue Cheese.

The song that plays through the ad in the background is “La Traviata” by “The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra”

The Famous “DEO Bazaar”

People selling handmade things in the DEO Christmas Bazaar

Every year, the school I used to go to, the German School in Cairo (DEO), holds a Christmas bazaar, selling a lot of handmade products such as jewelery, as well as possible gifts for people to give away for Christmas. They also sell traditional German foods and drinks such as “Lebkuchen” and “Stollen” which are both kinds of cakes, “Raclette” and “Glühwein” which is a hot mulled wine. Beer is also available.

More things which are sold in the DEO Bazaar for Christmas

The most interesting phenomenon one can see there is people of all ages drinking alcohol and even getting drunk. The people selling the alcohol are either parents or teachers, all German of course. It is only very rarely that they ask the people buying for an ID; and when they do ask about IDs they only make sure the person is above 18 not 21, because that is the legal drinking age in Germany.

Overall, the DEO Christmas Bazaar is an amusing annual event for people of all ages. Little children have fun activities and can buy toys, teenagers get to drink, eat and meet up with friends, and parents have the chance to buy some presents.

Merry Christmas DEO.

TV script

Egyptian fans in Zamalik in front of Algerian Embassy

A couple of weeks back, we were supposed to write a TV script on any news story of our preference. The one I found very interesting and up to date was on what was going on in the Arab World, because of a conflict between Egypt and Algeria which occurred because of the play offs of next year’s FIFA World Cup 2010.

Here is my script:

Anchor Lead in:

A football game between Algeria and Egypt causes chaos in the Arab World and becomes more of a political issue. Amira Nabhan has more on this story.

Video Audio
VO- Shot of the Egyptian goals on Nov. 14th A match to qualify for the 2010 World Cup is further straining relations between Egypt and Algeria.  After three matches between the two rival, Algeria emerged victorious but the  violent aftermath is clouding the victory.
OC SOT Mohamed Mohasseb, AUC Student and big football fan.

VO- Algerians burning Egyptian flag. Never has the problem become this serious and reached the level it has today.
VO- Various shots of fans of both parties insulting one another, buses with broken glas and wounded fans. Fans hit each other after the matches and cause trouble that has almost reached a political issue now.
VO- Egyptian fans talking about what they went through in Sudan and pictures of people hiding out in Sudanese homes Egyptians in Egypt decide that this issue is much bigger that anyone thinks it is, and want to take their rights back from the Algerians.
VO- Video of people demonstrating infront of the Algerian embassy in Cairo They gather up Thursday and Friday night around the Algerian Embassy in Zamalik and have a major demonstration, leading to the Egyptian Government having to take extra security measures in order to protect the embassy.
OC SOT Alaa Mubarak, son of Egyptian President

VO- Pictures of Egyptian embassador in Algeria, and Algerian embassador in Egypt Each of the ambassadors of the countries has returned to his home country until the governments decide on the appropriate actions that are going to be taken.
OC SOT Nayera Abdel Rahman, an AUC student

VO- Shots of Egyptians on the street still with the flag hanging everywhere Egyptians are waiting to see what will happen, but they are hoping that the FIFA will disqualify Algeria from the World Cup 2010.
VO- Shot of fans cheering on the streets of Cairo. Amira Nabhan, AUC News, Cairo, Egypt

What Happened To Egyptians??

A couple of days back, I was waiting at the Tahrir bus stop when I suddenly saw something I would have never thought that I would see in my entire life.

Right next to the gate of the Main Campus, where all students wait for the bus, there was a guy, probably in his late twenties hitting a woman who seemed to be in her early twenties. She was veiled. They both seemed to be coming from a lower social class.

He kept on hitting her, slapping her, hitting her head against the wall, and she was not doing anything at all about it. All she was doing was crying and bleeding all over her face.

He was yelling at her, and she was giving no reaction but crying.

Surprisingly, no one on the streets seemed to care about what was going on. People were passing by, as thought it were a normal scene they see in their every day life. Only some guys, on the other side of the street stopped to watch but they were not stopping the guy who was hurting the girl.

Then, some of the international AUC students went to stop the guy, and wanted to call the police on them. The guy heard them, and laughed out loud, saying sarcastically that they should call the police and that the police would not be able to do anything and that he did not care.

Finally, he pulled her from her veil, on the floor and took off with her.

This is a scene that you would not see in any country and for foreigners it makes our country look very uncivilized and uneducated. Whatever happened to human rights and gender equity? We all know that because we live in the Arab world, women and men are not treated equally, but this is an unacceptable matter.

Swine Flu: A Source of Fun or Anxiety?

A students wearing a Swine Flu mask to school

The Egyptian government may have implemented the swine flu break as a precaution against the spread of H1N1 in Egypt but many for Egyptians, the unexpected holiday gave them the opportunity to travel and socialize for an additional two weeks.

A significant number of students disregarded the spirit of the break and used it as an opportunity to travel. Foreign locales such as Paris, London and Munich suddenly became popular even though swine flu is rapidly spreading in Europe. And local hotspots like Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, Gouna or the North Coast also saw an increase in tourism.

“I went to Sharm El Sheikh for five days and it was crowded like hell,” said Mostafa Gobba, a 17-year-old Fine Arts sophomore at the University of Helwan. “People were in crowds everywhere; whether at the beach or in clubs.”

Even if traveling wasn’t on the agenda, many students spent their “swine flu break” in their hometowns and went out on a daily basis to crowded cafes in order to enjoy their time with their friends instead of avoiding the risk of catching the swine flu.

“Going out was like being in an overcrowded lame fashion show,” said Nayera Abdel Rahman, 18-year-old un

declared sophomore at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

Who Cares About the Swine Flu?

A café like “Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf” where no Shisha is served gained a lot from this unexpected break.

“During the last days of the Holy month of Ramadan people started to come right after Iftar,” said Mohammed Aly, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf manager of Zamalek branch.

The usually packed with studying students place was bookless. No one with any sign of studying was spotted there.

“It was amazing,” said Aly. “We had rush hour about eight hours every day.”

Although Aly declined to give a number, he said that the café definitely made a noticeable profit in that time and wishes that the place would always be that packed.

“Before I went to Sharm El Sheikh and after I came back I spent every day until 2a.m. at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf,” said Gobba. “But my friends and I never managed to find a place to sit inside, so we would always just hang out on the sidewalk and sit on the cars in front of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf; and we were a lot. People passing by would sometimes mistake us for being in a fight or something because we were so many.”

Aly attributed some of the popularity to the design of the café.

“Because we have a high roof and no Shisha people would prefer to come here rather than going to a totally closed and smaller place,” said Aly.

Finally People Who Are Making Some Sense

However, cafes which serve Shisha were disappointed that the Health Ministry of Egypt scared every one.

“We barely had any customers because of the fear everyone had,” said Hamada Youssef, a waiter at the Shisha café “Vivant”.

“The majority of people who came in were foreigners, probably because we are so close by the AUC dorms,” said Shaymaa Ahmed, a shift leader at Vivant. “When Egyptians saw the foreigners, they would just walk out with no second thoughts about staying here, because they thought that they are increasing their risk of catching the swine flu.” And customers that did smoke, consistently asked about the hygiene within the establishment and expected everything to be sanitized regularly.

“We clean our Shishas after each usage and only use medical hose,” said Youssef.

Pottery café, another Shisha café is facing similar difficulties.

“There are definitely less people coming in, due to fear,” said Ahmed Magdy, a shift manager of Pottery at the Zamalek branch. “It led to a certain loss. But the people who came still smoked Shisha, however they requested medical hose.”

Thank God I Go To AUC

Last Saturday, I went with a friend of mine who still goes to school, to the Faculty of Fine Arts, which belongs to Helwan University, but is located in Zamalik. She wanted to go to look at the different majors they have there, as she will be graduating from the German School in Dokki, in June and needs to start applying to colleges. Wanting to keep all her options open, she thought of Interior Design among other things such as Law. Knowing that the American University in Cairo (AUC) does not offer either of those majors for undergraduates, she figured that she would have to go to a public university or travel abroad for these. So we went to the Faculty of Fine Arts and it was a disaster.

Faculty of Fine Arts (Helwan) in Zamalik

Both of us were dressed normally, as though we were going to our university/school – jeans and a t-shirt. The looks we got from the students there once we entered were horrifying. They made us feel as though we are aliens through the looks they gave us. We could see the dirty looks the veiled girls were giving us, like we were prostitutes who came in to take all their guys. As for the guys, they made us feel like something was wrong with us; they would not stop starring. We could clearly tell that they were whispering about us.

After going to the registrar, which is not even close to being one, compared to the one we have here in AUC, and seeing that it was closed, we simply left.

The American University in Cairo

I told my friend that she could enjoy her time there if she was really going to apply there. But she told me that she would not because she would be so out of place. Finally, she decided that it will either be AUC or abroad.

Freedom of Speech

Do we not all have certain Human Rights, which are applicable to all human beings?? Do we not have the right to speak what is on our minds as long as it is not offensive to anyone? “Human Beings shall enjoy freedom of speech,” is what it says in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Then what is this chaos we are living in in Egypt?

People accuse us of being too “Americanized” and open minded for Egyptians. Is this really true? Or is it only a prejudice? Because, when it comes to saying what is on our mind, we have to keep it on the low. Issues such as criticizing the government or any authorities are of course known to be completely taboo. But since when has talking about the President’s health condition become such a sensitive topic?

Even in universities and schools students are barely allowed to say what they want. Here at the American University in Cairo (AUC) the case might be slightly different and usually avoided topics are totally fine to be talked about because we upon entering AUC the students know that they are entering a different environment that the typical Egyptian one.

This is not only the case at AUC but in all private schools and universities; in fact in those, students may speak freely about anything, even political issues such as the Arab Israeli conflict and they can freely be pro Israel knowing it won’t harm them in their educational environment and knowing they don’t need to be afraid of any harm. Yet even those know that when they are outside that educational environment, they need to take certain precautions into consideration, in order not to get harmed.

Symbol Freedom of Expression and Press, Democracy

But what about public schools and universities? In their case it is a different situation. They have so many restrictions and can almost never state their opinion because of their fear of authorities and parents at home. When was the last time you heard about a girl from rural Egypt opposing her parents or teacher on their point of view on Women’s Rights for example? This is a very important issue in Egypt that needs something done about by people who know what the real world is really about.