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Published: November 27th 2010
It was recently decided that I will become the next President for STAR (Student Action for Refugees); the group with whom I have been volunteering as both English teacher and as Academic Director for the next year and a half. I will be assuming the position next month and am really looking forward to the challenge and to making some really great changes.
We are the only branch of STAR outside of the United Kingdom and as the semester has moved along we have been reaching out to them as we lost "connection" a few years back and are attempting to re-establish a relationship with them. Since they were holding their annual STAR national conference we decided to attend. So Nada, the current VP, and I flew to London (luckily all expenses paid for by AUC) for 3 days (and I stayed on for an additional 2 to see the sights!
I flew into London last Friday afternoon and was offered to stay at the home of a friend that was with me in Egypt 3 years ago when I came to Alexandria for the TEFL course and Arabic program. Sarah has a lovely flat and she couldn't have been more hospitable! That night she, along with Ben and Meg (two other good friends that I met during the same program), took me out around downtown London to show me the some of the main landmarks at night and to drink wine...and lots we drank! We first stopped off at Gordon's Wine Bar- the oldester wine bar in London - before walking around, sipping on mulled wine (hot, spiced wine - ohh soo delish) and freezing my toes off! I saw Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, London bridge, etc. It was a lot of fun and we did a lot of walking before deciding to warm up in another bar. Having not been in cold weather now for almost 4 years it was a complete shock to my body and I was absolutely freezing!
Saturday and Sunday were spent at the STAR Conference which was really great. We made a lot of great contacts, both with STAR and other refugee/human rights organizations, in London, definitely re-established our connection with STAR UK and even gave a presentation on Sunday to all the attendees. They were all extremely excited to have us there and to hear all about Egypt, the refugee situation here and all the great work that we're doing!
Sunday night Sarah took me out for a real English dinner - fish and chips - and we even got to play a round fo Pub Quiz - a quiz that all those in the bar play - a lot of fun even though we weren't very good at it.
Monday was spent with Ben and Meg who were gracious enough to brave the cold with me and show me around London - we seemed to have walked everywhere and probably did seeing as how I met them at 9am and we were nonstop until around 6:30ish. We walked around Covent Garden, Soho, Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and who knows where else!! We ended the evening with more wine and then a yummy Mexican/Latin dinner.
Tuesday was spent with Ben and again, he was gracious enough to be a "tourist" for yet another day and showed me around even more places! First we went to see London Tower and The Tower Bridge before hopping onto a boat to go down to Greenwich. Greenwich - where the longitude is 0 degrees is also where the "basis" is for the world clocks. It was a beautiful area and we spent quite a few hours walking around and visiting the various museums before hopping back onto a boat and going back up the river. We went to Covent Garden where we visited 2 pubs for some hot mulled wine before Sarah came to meet us after she was done with work and we then went out for a delicious Italian dinner. I then took a quick trip to a grocery store to buy a few "necessities", aka things I CANNOT get here in Egypt, before heading back to Sarah's place. I had to wake at around 4am on Weds. morning so that I could leave her house by 5, walk to the Tube station to catch the 1st tube at 5:30 heading to Heathrow airport.
Back to Cairo - here I am - its Saturday night. Thursday was spent celebrating Thanksgiving with about 15 other friends at a restaurant with an "authentic" Thanksgiving meal for $30 - no leftovers or 2nds 😞 Yesterday a few of us went to the beach at Ain Sokhna for a few hours in the sun and today Amanda and I had 17 of our refugee students from our STAR class over for dinner. We had them over last semester and it was a lot of fun. Today we made a TON of pasta and homemade sauce, garlic bread, cheesy garlic bread and brownies. We had a great time and its always just soo much fun to hang out with them!
I've got a week and a half left of classes - last day of school is on the 8th (just found this out as one of our professors has to leave the country so he has to end school a week earlier). That means I'll then have a week to hang out and get ready to come HOME!!!! I'll be home on December 15-January 11th!!! Cannot wait to be home and see all of YOU!!
Here are the pics from London:
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