Cairo Itinerary

As mentioned in other posts, I am in Cairo for a week or so. My wife suspects I am taking some kind of vacation, sans family baggage, but I can assure you this is honest work, especially if you too are wondering why I haven’t met whichever pressing deadline I owe you.

Perhaps the itinerary would help my cause, especially if your students want to do something similar. While many planning programs have studios abroad, ours restarted student-organized courses over spring break about 6 years ago. They have since gone to England, Germany, India, Brazil, Mexico and Cuba. The students pay their own expenses (though they actually raised a few thousand dollars with dances, and tshirt and tamale sales), and in this case I cobbled together a modest travel budget from the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies and the UCLA Institute of the Environment. Plus it counts as a class all around. We met for 5 weeks during the winter term in preparation.

In Cairo, here’s the plan, largely crafted by Taha Culhane, UCLA PhD student and ambassador extraordinaire of peace, love & networking.

day 1: Urban fabric
Islamic/Medieval Cairo, blogged here, and Al Azhar Park, briefing at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

day 2: Coastal gateway
Northern Nile Delta, Alexandria and Alexandria Library. (Just by chance, we arrived at the Library parking lot — thronging with eclipse watchers — just as the March 29 total solar eclipse began. Though we were out of the direct path by 50 miles or so, we took advantage of our good timing by enjoying a partial eclipse before heading inside.)

day 3: USA Policy framework
Briefings at US Embassy (Garden City) and USAID (Maadi). I can’t tell you what they told us. Big secrets.

day 4: Ancient history
Giza (hey, we’re in Egypt after all. We recommend the camel ride route to the pyramids and Sphinx. I took a horse, Alexander the Great style. It rained, with lightning. Arrange all if possible. Look how happy they are, even with sand blowing in their ears — I mean the students, not the camels.)

day 5: Community empowerment & NGOs
The Zabaleen, blogged here, including a visit to the NGO store where they sell Zabaleen quilts, purses, needlepoint, stuffed camels, etc.

day 6: Sustainable rural development
Visit to SEKEM, the award winning organic commercial farm, and the Suez Canal.

day 7: Civil society and US/Egyptian collaboration
Conference at the American University of Cairo, including presentations by UCLA students and yours truly on Cairo projects and proposed AUC/UCLA Environmental Economics Institute.

day 8: Urban decentralization/Satellite cities/Desert Agriculture
AUC Desert Development Center, South Tahrir and Sadat City stations, City of 6 October & Hypermart Mall

day 9: Homeward bound

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006
randall Crane