Archive for October, 2010

“Everyone at Sapgyo High School becomes a Zombie and Dies”

Monday, October 25th, 2010

So for Halloween I am going to teach a lesson plan on ZOMBIES to my upper levels. I just finished writing a speed read, so I thought I would share it with you. A speed read is when you give the students sheets of paper that have two sentences on them, one sentence begins with “when you hear” and one sentence begins with “you say.” There are maybe 30 or so slips of paper (one for every student) and together all the sheets create a story – BUT WAIT! The order is all mixed up! The only way that you can tell the story is to listen for the sentence before yours (i.e. “when you hear). The idea behind the speed read is to practice listening comprehension and speaking speed – because you have to say the story as fast as possible! Without further ado, my speed read, tenatively titled “Everyone at Sapgyo High School becomes a Zombie and Dies.”

You say: Emily Teacher was at Sapgyo High School on Halloween.

When you hear: Emily Teacher was at Sapgyo High School on Halloween.
You say: She was in her office preparing for the lesson.

When you hear: She was in her office preparing for the lesson.
You say: She heard the door slowly open.

When you hear: She heard the door slowly open.
You say: “Who is it?” She asked.

When you hear: “Who is it?” She asked.
You say: She heard someone say “braaaaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnnnsssss”

When you hear: She heard someone say “braaaaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnnnsssss”
You say: She looked at the door and saw a zombie!

When you hear: She looked at the door and saw a zombie!
You say: She was very scared.

When you hear: She was very scared.
You say: Zombies eat the brains of living people.

When you hear: Zombies eat the brains of living people.
You say: Also, if you are bitten by a zombie, you become a zombie.

When you hear: Also, if you are bitten by a zombie, you become a zombie.
You say: Emily Teacher does not want to be eaten by a zombie, or become a zombie!

When you hear: Emily Teacher does not want to be eaten by a zombie, or become a zombie!
You say: Emily Teacher quickly ran to the classroom.

When you hear: Emily Teacher quickly ran to the classroom.
You say: She locked the door and told the class to hide.

When you hear: She locked the door and told the class to hide.
You say: A zombie broke the door and came in!

When you hear: A zombie broke the door and came in!
You say: Isabella hit the zombie with a chair.

When you hear: Isabella hit the zombie with a chair.
You say: The zombie died.

When you hear: The zombie died.
You say: However first it bit Jacob!

When you hear: However first it bit Jacob!
You say: Jacob is now a zombie!

When you hear: Jacob is now a zombie!
You say: What do we do?

When you hear: What do we do?
You say: We need to kill Jacob.

When you hear: We need to kill Jacob.
You say: Emily took a chainsaw out of the desk and killed Jacob.

When you hear: Emily Teacher took a chainsaw out of the desk and killed Jacob.
You say: Jacob died, and Emily Teacher turned her back to the class.

When you hear: Jacob died, and Emily Teacher turned her back to the class.
You say: Rachel then fixed the door to stop the zombies from coming in.

When you hear: Rachel then fixed the door to stop the zombies from coming in.
You say: She said “look, now we are safe”

When you hear: She said “look, now we are safe”
You say: Irene said “what should we do now?”

When you hear: Irene said “what should we do now?”
You say: Emily Teacher said “braaaaaiiiiinnnnnnsssss”

When you hear: Emily Teacher said “braaaaiiiiinnnnnssss”
You say: Emily Teacher turned around and SHE WAS A ZOMBIE!

When you hear: Emily Teacher turned around and SHE WAS A ZOMBIE!
You say: The class screamed!

When you hear: The class screamed!
You say: Emily Zombie attacked the class!

When you hear: Emily Zombie attacked the class!
You say: Emily Zombie bit everyone!

When you hear: Emily Zombie bit everyone!
You say: The class then turned everyone at Sapgyo High School into zombies.

EDIT: Class 1.5 read this speed read in 59 seconds! WOW! MUCH faster than I was expecting… as there are 30 sentences that means that they spent an average of a  little less than 2 seconds on each sentence!  I pit them against class 2.1 and told them that whoever won would get stickers, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow…

Typical Wednesday

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Here is a peak into a normal Wednesday, my busiest day of the week.

Its 6:45am. Groggily, I fumble with my cell phone to turn of the alarm that reminds me a new day is about to begin. After showering, eating, and packing my bags, I stride down three blocks to catch the 7:40 am bus. The ride to the new campus can take anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour and 15 minutes. Luckily, it is only 50 minutes today. I read a book for a class, dozing in and out occasionally. When AUC’s campus looms ahead, I pack my book and prepared to disembark. Once at the campus, I pass through the bus pass checkers, then line up to go through security where I scan my ID, pass through a metal turnstyle, place my back pack on the x-ray machine conveyor belt, and walk through the metal detector. My smiling face shows up on a computer screen so the security can confirm my identity. I walk through the campus, glancing at the workers sweeping up orange flowers that have fallen from their trees. I make my way to the KwikMart stand where I buy thick and delicious mango nectar in a bottle. Its not as good as the fresh stuff served at fresh fruit stands, but it still beats anything else in the States. I make my way to the library to finalize an outline for my presentation for my Palestinian and Refugee Issue grad class later in the day. Once 9:50 rolls around, I gather my things and head across campus for my ‘amiyya (Egyptian colloquial) class. Today is a bit cooler than yesterday, but still, I can barely keep my eyes open as I cross the giant stone courtyard, the bright, white sun beating down on me. At 11:15, the class is over. I make my way to the thick, stone stairs that will lead my to my Third World Development class. Class is very interesting today because the professor shares some personal stories of his trip to Saudi Arabia when he was conducting research for his dissertation. Its 12:45 pm, and people are getting antsy to leave, so he wraps up and sends us on our way. My Modern Standard Arabic class begins in just over an hour and since I have a presentation on Qatar today, I return to the library to look up a few more facts, organize my slides, and practice my speech. By 2 pm, I’m sitting in class, chatting with the other students and the TA as we wait for the Ustaaz (“professor”) to show up. The presentations go well, and since there are only six of us, we finish before class is over and can leave early. After class, I head to to Al-Omda, the most Egyptian and cheapest food joint on campus and order t’amiyya, the Egyptian version of felafel. I savor it in peace while over looking the desert and a few distant buildings in the distance. My bus to the old campus, where my Palestinian class meets, is leaving in an hour. In that time, I make minor changes to my outline then make copies for the class. At 4:15, I am seated in the back of a large van. The shock absorbers are not the best, so we bounce around and occasionally fly off our seats. Traffic is pretty bad. Stop and go, stop and go. As I look out the window, a car of young men pulls up beside us. The shotgun passenger tries to make eye contact and flirt with me. I turn my attention to some papers in my lap, pretending to be occupied. After a few minutes I return my attention out the window. The sun is starting to set, warming the sky with rich colors. The tan, old buildings look shabby and out of place against the sky. We are getting closer to downtown. 5:30 is rapidly approaching and the traffic has only gotten worse. Weighing my options, I decide to ditch the van and head in the direction of the campus. At first the van is behind me, then traffic moves and it passes me by a few feet. For a while we play catch up with each other, until it finally turns down a side street and I continue straight ahead. I’m not entirely sure where the campus is located, so I hope that I am going in the right direction and did not foolishly ditch the van. I see a massive Coca-Cola sign glowing in the distance and relief floods me; I’m going in the right direction and I’m getting closer. A few minutes after 5:30 I make it to campus, went through security, and settled down for class. The next two and a half hours are filled with student presentations and a guest speaker. The speaker is really passionate about his research into the distribution of aid to Palestinian’s in the West Bank and Gaza, so the last half hour flies by as he enthusiastically shares his ideas. A little after 8, class is over. My friend and I head to another guest speakers presentation on campus about urban refugees. We go to the wrong place at first, but finally find it. It is just wrapping up as we arrive (it had begun at 7:30). However, we get to listen to question and answers. Since the room was only reserved until 9, we have to leave although questions were still being brought up. My friend and I set out into the streets of downtown, wandering and searching for a new place to eat. On the way, we pass by various street vendors selling books, lighters, office supplies, and souvenirs. I greet a book seller in Arabic and proceed to look at some books. He shows me an Arabic children’s book that teaches kids their letters. Each letter has a word beginning with that letter and a corresponding picture. I flip through the alphabet reading the words. He helps me to read and pronounce them properly. Yay for impromptu Arabic lessons! After we finish the book I told him “Shukraan Ustaaz, Ma’a Salaam!” and we head on our way. We spot a fruit shop and get fresh date milkshakes. The worker just plops dates in a blender with some liquid (milk and sugar I presume) and before we know it we have deliciously thick and rich shakes. We wonder where the dates are from and the worker goes to the back and hands us each a chilled, brown date. Yum. But, now for some real food. We come across a small restaurant and I order a liver sandwich. One of the men working there asks me if I am Egyptian. Jokingly I say I am, but moments later I tell him I am American. I find it interesting when people think I’m Egyptian. I’ve gotten that comment a several times and have had people just start speaking Arabic to me. Anyways, while I wait for my sandwich, I start talking to the cashier and attempt to read some signs around the restaurant with his aid. Finally, my food was ready. The chef is a jokster and holds up my sandwich really high as I go to get it. I play along a bit. Soon, my sandwich is nestled snug and warm in my hands and we began our trek back to Zamalek after a quick perusal of an Egyptian bakery. Our journey takes us across several lanes of traffic, under an expressway, past a bus station, across a bridge spanning the Nile, and finally, on the streets of Zamalek. After quick stops to an ATM and a small grocery stand for some water we had arrive back to the dorms. Our bags are checked and we walk through the metal detectors. As we are about to enter the lobby, we are stopped. “You need to sign in” we are told by one of the guards. “What? What time is it?…11:20 pm!?! No Way! How did it get so late?”. It feels much earlier for some strange reason. We shrug our shoulders and go to our respective rooms to begin out homework. On the way to my room I chat with some floor mates. Finally, I settle down in my room around midnight. Oh, Wednesdays.

My bodyguard

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

My school is fairly small as far as high schools in Korea go, (but apparently pretty average for country schools), so there are 6 classes in each grade, 3 grades total, which makes for roughly 450 kids. As a result of having such a small number of classes per grade, I teach every single 2nd and 1st grader at my school… which actually only amounts to 12 classes and about 300 kids. Unfortunately I don’t teach any of the 3rd graders, because they are busy preparing for the really intense university entrance exam I mentioned earlier, but in November when they finish taking the test I will teach them which means I will be up to 18 classes, and I will have taught every single student at my school. Pretty cool.

Even though I don’t teach them, I still see and interact with the 3rd graders pretty regularly. The school building itself is actually pretty small and my desk is in the main 교무실 (teacher’s office) so I see them there, however most of my interaction with students is either walking to and from my classes or in the cafeteria. My student interactions tend to follow pretty specific patterns:

1) The relatively normal but extraverted student approach: EMILY HIIIII!/Hello Teacher!/Anyeongha-hehehe-hello!
2) The shy student approach: Me: “Hello!” Student: stares/giggles/runs away
3) The infatuated male student approach: EMILY TEACHER I LOVE YOU! (usually a really loud scream across a huge distance – either from across the hall/from the second floor balcony/across the caferia, etc) followed by some sort of heart-like gesture (arms over the head connecting to make a heart, heart with the hands, etc). This happens a lot more than you would think.

However, there is a specific group of 3rd year boys (5 of them) whose interactions with me don’t tend to fit into these categories, and I never quite know what to expect from them. I was walking outside away from the cafeteria back to the main building when I passed one of them. He immediately stopped what he was doing and positioned himself in front of me with his hand stretched away from me out in a defensive position and said “today – I am your bodyguard.” I laughed and said okay and we walked together for approximately 30 seconds before his friend came over to say hi to me, at which point my bodyguard for the day promptly starts yelling “BAD GUY!” and starts chasing after the guy trying to put him in a

This is my life.

A letter I received today from a 3rd Grade student (i.e. HS Senior)

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Hi ~ I’m Lauren.
(korea name: HeeSu, Shin 신희수)
UM… I like you! and thank you for your present. Do you remember a postcard you gave me? This card very wonderful!! That day I was so happy. ㅎ.ㅎ This days I’m little busy. So I couldn’t go to talk with you. I’m sorry ㅠㅠ. When I finished my exam, I will go to meeting you ~ This letter is Sahra and helga help me. ^.^ Thank you for reading!
Have a good day!! ^d^
Bye Bye ~

(she drew a picture of me – on the letter I will scan it in soon so you can see it :) )

My Everyday Life

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

So people have been a-clamoring to know what my daily life is like. Sorry, I suck at blogging. Without further ado, here is the super long blog post that will probably go into more detail than you care about:

I live in a homestay, i.e. I live with a family, and they’re all really nice!  The father is the Ethics teacher
at Sapgyo High School and drives me to work every morning (we leave at 7:30 am, ugh). The mother is a a piano teacher at an academy, and she has started giving me piano lessons! Last but certainly not least, I have two homestay sisters who are honestly probbaly the best thing about my placement. Their names are 밀림 (Mil-lim) and 영림 (Young-lim), and they are in 3rd and 1st grade at Sapgyo High school. Cultural note: middle schools in Korea are 3 years long, so high schools in Korea are only 3 years.  So a first grader is roughly equivalent to a sophmore and so on. Currently Mil-lim is finishing up studying for the University Entrance Exam (more on this in a later blog post), which is a big test that all of the high schoolers who want to go to college have to take, similar to our SAT but much more intense and important. As they are high schoolers I don’t see them very often, but when I do we have a lot of fun. My homestay parents speak very little english, so either I speak Korean, or my sisters translate. I try to speak Korean as much as I can because I want to learn and also because I feel guilty having my sisters have to translate.

On my first day at school (a Saturday when I was getting to know the school and not actually teaching) they asked me to give a speech in Korean to the entire student body. That was nerve wracking. It was super simple, along the lines of  “Hello everyone it is nice to meet you.  My name is Emily.  I am from America, from Virginia which is below Washington.  I am an English teacher.  Thank you!”  However the entire student body burst into applause after I said “hello” so I think I made a good impression ^_^. I’m the first native teacher Sapgyo HS has ever had, so I get a lot of what was referred to in Orientation as “rockstar status” – 9 weeks later students still yell at me, run down the hall just to say “hi,” make hearts with their hands, etc. More on this later.

The Korean school system is intense!  There are classes M – F from 8 am – 5 pm and then on two Saturdays every month. Luckily I only teach on weekdays. On Monday – Friday most of the students (at least the college-bound ones) do self-study after school until 10 pm or midnight (including my two adorable host siblings, and then they go to school on Sunday and self-study from 8 am – 5 pm as well.   I teach 12 classes total: 2 advanced, 2 high beginner, 8 beginner, 2 low beginner. The beginner classes are a bit of a challenge, as they don’t always understand what I’m saying, but I’m trying to do my best to teach them.  To put things in perspective:

  • Taught my advanced class a lesson on protests and made them make up protest chants. Very extensive vocabulary, and good grammar, however don’t know how to use it all the time.
  • I teach my high beginners a harder version of my beginner lessons
  • Beginners get taught mostly grammar and vocab. Recent lessons have been “comparative and superlative adjectives” (thanks Josh! – you’re rad), “government words,” “singular vs plural” etc.
  • Low Beginners get a much easier version of the Beginner lesson. Some of my kids can’t read English, and two of my kids are completely illiterate (can’t read Korean). My most difficult (and thus my most rewarding) class is grade 1 class 6… it’s my lowest level and there are only 10 students in the class. When I come into class most days they’re asleep, but generally they’re really pumped up by the time I leave and they try SO hard.

Average class size is about 20, with my largest class at 30 and my smallest class at 10. I absolutely LOVE having smaller classes – it makes discipline much easier and I can give students individual attention.

I leave school between 3 and 4 everyday. I’m allowed to leave at 3, however depending on my teaching schedule and whether or not I miss the one bus that comes every 20 minutes, I leave at differen times everyday. That’s right, there’s one bus. I LITERALLY could not get lost going home unless I a) was on the wrong side of the street or b) got off the bus way too early. Bus takes about 30 minutes, and then every day M – F I have hapkido from 5:30 – 6:30. Hapkido is a “is a dynamic and eclectic Korean martial art. It is a form of self-defense that employs joint locks, techniques of other martial arts, as well as common primitive attacks. There is also the use of traditional weapons, including a sword, rope, nunchaku, cane, short stick, and staff (gun, bō) which vary in emphasis depending on the particular tradition examined.” It’s freaking awesome, I feel like Mulan. I am by no means great at it, but it’s a lot of fun and I have my yellow belt test on the 29th!

That’s generally my life right now. Sorry about the delay in updates.

Thucydides 1

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The documents found in Fornara when compared to Thucydides’ Archeology and Pentecontaetia give weight to Thucydides’ accounts of the events before the Pelopennesian War, while also to a certain extent giving credence to Thucydides analysis of the underlying cause of the Pelopennesian War. While the documents found in Fornara can be difficult to read at times, two particular documents are especially important in giving credence to what Thucydides writes.
Thucydides’ Archeology and Pentecontaetia both cover a huge swath of Ancient Greek history, much of which was left undocumented by those who were there and what was documented are few and far between. However there are two incidents in the Archeology and the Pentecontaetia which can be backed up by first hand accounts. The first incident is that of the revolt of the Messenian helots which, in both Thucydides and the documents in Fornara, seems to have been prompted by an earthquake in the region. Document 67 gives multiple accounts of both the earthquake and the helot revolt. The documents also include accounts of the help given my the Athenians to the Spartans to help put down the revolt. These documents, while giving credence to the account given by Thucydides, also give more detail than Thucydides does. In the Pentecontaetia Thucydides quickly goes over the revolt before going onto the more important, at least in his opinion, outcome of Sparta’s rebuff to Athenian help and the larger implications for the Pelopennesian War. With the help of the documents found Fornara, the reader can acquire a better understanding of the events surrounding the helot revolt and not merely what its implications meant in the eventual lead up to the Pelopennesian War.
Another important to document, which does much of the same things that the previous document did, is document 72 which deals with the Egyptian revolt against the Persians. Much like document 67 did for the helot revolt, document 72 provides valuable insight to what exactly Athens role in helping the Egyptians was while also confirming many of the details found in Thucydides. While document 72 is much shorter when compared to document 67, it does much to support the account found in Thucydides.
As for the other documents while they are helpful in understanding the inner workings of Athens relations with Erythrae (something which is not dealt with directly until at least book 3) and Phaselis, the large chunks of text that are missing make it difficult to assess the value of the documents especially in relation to the parts of history covered by Thucydides in the Archeology and the Pentecontaetia.

Relaxing Exhaustion

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Now I realize that the title of this blog is quite a paradox; however, it is truly how you would explain my vacation in Dahab. When I first came up with the idea of going to Dahab for the week break we had, I imagined laying on the beach and relaxing until the end of the week – forgetting about the stress back in Cairo. But of course, that is not how the week ended up at all.

Monday, we left around midnight on a bus headed towards Sharm el-Sheikh. (The bus directly to Dahab was sold out.) 9 hours later, we arrive at the Sharm bus station and are told that the next bus to Dahab is not for another two hours. However, we must have been lucky because we stumbled upon a bus after about 5 minutes that was headed to Dahab. After paying the driver 20LE each, we boarded the bus…the only problem with this situation is the lacking of seats, as in there are none available. You would not think that the bus driver would allow more people on the bus than it would sit, but then again T.I.E. (This is Egypt).

Once we arrive in Dahab, about an hour or two later, we set our stuff down in the lobby of our hostel. A tour guide approaches us since we had asked that we be able to talk to one upon arrival. We decide to take this safari trip that afternoon. So we had two hours to walk around, eat, clean up a little bit, and board the SUV which was taking us into the desert. Our first stop was a giant sand dune where a few of us went sand boarding (I had already done so and for that reason I passed on the opportunity). He only allowed a few to people to go before we had to retreat to the car and head to the White Canyons. There we repelled down into the canyon and hiked through it for over an hour.

Just as we reached the small oasis on the other side, it started to rain. You can imagine my delight since I have not seen rain in many months now. At the oasis we had lunch with a Bedouin family which was unbelievably delicious. (Btw, I do not believe I have ever eaten so much rice in my life as I do here.) After lunch, we drove off towards the Colored Canyons. Unfortunately it was pretty dark by this time and the colors were not as predominant as they should have been. I did my best to capture the rainbow rocks, but I believe my cameras failed me for the most part.

After a short hike through these canyons, we took a 3 hour drive to this small bedouin village where we had dinner and slept next to the Red Sea. Now I realize I just said slept…let me correct myself – I attempted to sleep. First outside, right next to the water, however that became too cold so I went into the little hut hoping to block some of the wind. Once in the hut, I still was unable to sleep because it sounded like a hurricane was going on outside of the hut with the wind howling. The sleepless night was worth it when I got to wake up to this:

After waking and having a simple breakfast, we lounged around waiting for our camels to arrive. After they arrived, four hours later than when they were supposed to, we did a little snorkeling. This is when I discovered I no longer enjoyed snorkeling as I prefer to be under the sea, exploring with the fish (i.e. Scuba diving). Snorkeling over with, we mounted our camels and headed on our journey back towards the hostel. We had an hour and half camel ride on this small path in between the Sinai Mountains and the Red Sea. It was just a beautiful sight…the mountains towering over us on one side, the waves crashing against the shore and Saudi Arabia across the sea on the other side.

We returned to the Hostel around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. We went to get food, clean up and took about an hour nap before we left to go somewhere else at 11pm. This time we were headed to Mt. Sinai. We climbed the mountain during the night so that we could watch the sun rise in the morning. During the climb, it was hot and muggy. But when you reach the top, it is freezing – being covered in sweat really does not help in this situation. We all find a spot to watch the sun begin its ascent and shiver a little more. To be perfectly honest, the sunrise was a little underwhelming. (Perhaps I tend to over think everything and imagine it as this glorious entity that takes place or exists. That could be why I am so disappointed when I reach such important monuments.) But it was absolutely stunning on this one point of the mountain:

By now, I have gone three days without sleep. You can imagine how easy it was to upset me or get on my bad side. It started with my camera which decided not to work anymore once we reached the top and I finished the roll of film that was in it already. Considering this is my prized possession and what I call “my baby” I was a little enraged at its failure to work properly. However, I got over it as we started walking back down the mountain. Except this time, we did not use the camel path that we climbed up on, but the 3,700 steps that are “quicker” to go down. Let me just say this about that endeavor: OW. My knees and quads and calves – everything hurt by the end of that climb down.

We returned to the hostel. That was the first night that we were actually able to sleep. And it was glorious. Well actually I slept from about 3 in the afternoon until 6pm where we all got up, took showers, and went out to eat and walk around town. We came across this little shop filled with vibrant paintings that exuded exactly how I felt this part of Egypt looked like. And at that time, the artist was actually in the store, painting another picture when we walked in. I bought two paintings – one for me and one for my brother as a gift, however, I must admit I am tempted to keep it for myself.

After our little outing, we went straight to bed since we were all still very tired. I woke up early the next morning so that Rochell and I could go on our Scuba trip. We went to the site called “The Lighthouse” but it failed in comparison to the sites I dived in Hurghada. I did however, see at least 7 Napoleon fish which is odd. Three were even swimming together which seemed even more strange. I suppose Dahab is a place where anything can happen.

Shortly after diving, we boarded a bus and headed back home…well, to our Egyptian home. So as you can see, my relaxing week on the beach was a lie. I never even made it to the beach in Dahab. However, I had amazing experiences that I would not trade for just laying on a beach.

Also this was my beautiful camel, Bullwinkle. He is a stud :)

Thucydides 3 – Justice

Monday, October 18th, 2010

While Cleon and Pericles are were both leading politicians during the 5th century in Athens, they both had very different ideas of what could be considered justice and what was right. While both men met opposition to there ideas, it was not because they held similar beliefs but because of the fickleness of the Athenians.
To Pericles what was right and just for one person must be right and just to all persons. As such Pericles believed in a more compassionate form of justice than Cleon. Unlike Cleon, Pericles believed that by showing equal compassion to all citizens, those citizens would be more likely to follow the rules of the law. Pericles states that in allowing individual citizens to do as they please, even if one disagrees with what their neighbour is doing, it encourages citizens to be more thoughtful and more inclined to follow the rule of law. Because citizens are not forced to be uniform in action they respect the law more because they know that that law is what protects them from such tyranny.
In contrast Cleon believed that the only way to maintain Athenian dominance, Athenians must rule over their allies with an iron fist, showing no compassion and meting out punishment to all no matter the actual status of their guilt. To Cleon what was just and right was what best suited the purpose of maintaining dominance, even if it meant being seen as unfair to others. Cleon, unlike Pericles, believed that “compassion is due to those who can reciprocate the feeling, not to those who will never pity us in return.” What was best for the power of Athens was what was right and just for Cleon.
Pericles and Cleon clearly held contrasting views on what was right and just. Pericles was more compassionate and believed that in allowing equality amongst citizens the rule of law could be maintained without tyranny. In contrast Cleon believed that the only way to maintain power was through showing no compassion to those who went against the Athenians. However despite these stark differences, both Cleon and Pericles felt that their perspectives, and by following their ideas, Athens would be able to maintain its dominance amongst its allies. Their two perspectives also show where Athens was in the Pelopennesian War. Pericles ideas of justice and what was right were based in a victorious Athens during a time when Athens wasn’t struggling to maintain power within its alliances. In contrast, Cleon’s perspective is one in which Athens has been attacked a former ally and has been suffering defeats at the hands of both its enemies and uncontrollable natural events (i.e. the plague discussed in the previous assignment.) So while both men show different opinions on what justice is and what is right, they are couched in the belief that through their ideas Athens will be able to maintain its dominance in each situation.
Cleon and Pericles each have very different ideas about what justice is and what is right. However, despite their stark differences, both men believed that their ideas would lead and help maintain Athens dominance with their allies.


Saturday, October 16th, 2010


Last week I traveled with some friends to Dahab, a city on the Sinai Peninsula situated right on the coast of Aqaba. Its a small, resort town with restaurants overlooking the water.

Dahab at night

Good thing I left my camel at home.

That week practically every study abroad student traveled somewhere. Wednesday was the 6th of October, the day when Egypt regained the Sinai Peninsula from Israel. Egyptians are extremely proud of this day and there are roads and bridges named in its memory. Since we do not have class on Tuesday and the weekend begins on Friday, everyone planned on skipping Thursday and making it into a five day holiday. All my classes on Thursday ended up being canceled so I did not have to worry about missing class.

The bus ride there took about nine hours. There were about five or so checkpoints that the bus went through. Officials are supposed to look at our passports at these points, however, my bus driver had a good relationship with them. Often, they would only check a few in the front and then let us all through. Not once was mine checked. I was really relieved, since I did not have my passport with me because my student visa was still being processed. I just brought a copy of it with me since I heard that was normally enough, especially for Americans, but still, I could not be entirely sure.

We were lucky to have made it through the check points so smoothly. One of my friends who came to Dahab later said that they were stuck at a checkpoint for about forty five minutes. Everyone had to exit the bus and all of their belongings were looked into. Was that really necessary? Probably not. But while all the points seems just like a show put on by the government to display is presence, the government has some practical reasons for them. For instance, they are used to prevent people from smuggling things like weapons, prevent future bombings in the Sinai from occurring, and keeping politicians (i.e. President Mubarak) safe when they travel through the Sinai. Yet, the sporadic enforcement of the checkpoints and the corruption present in Egypt makes me doubt how effective these points are at creating a safer environment.

It was nice to finally arrive in Dahab and soon it began to feel like summer break. We hung out at restaurants on the coast, swam, snorkeled, shopped, and went on excursions. Most of the restaurants had Bedouin style seating. This means that there are no chairs, just a long pad next to a very short table and lots of pillows. We could lounge there for hours, drinking tea or smoking sheesha (a water pipe). Bedouin girls would come up to us occasionally, trying to sell us jewelry and string bracelets that their mom’s had made. I would practice my Arabic with them and with the waiters.

One night we arranged a trip to hike up Mt.Sinai (جبل موسى) at night and watch the sunrise from the top. We left about Dahab about midnight and started the climb at around 3am. Our group was guided by a Bedouin. I chatted with him for a bit in the beginning. We talked about our families, my studies, and his life. It was rather difficult because the Arabic he spoke sounds quite different from what I am used to and he would use words that I could not understand. His knowledge of the mountain was impressive. He knew exactly where he was going even thought he did not have a light to guide him. We were walking in almost total darkness the entire time. Only two or three people in our group had decided to bring flashlights so I could barely make out the ground, which was strewn with rocks and stones of all sizes. Normally this was okay, but once I walked right into a boulder that came up to mid-calf. the next moment I was sprawled on top of it. My giant water bottle broke, leaking everywhere.The guide offered to help me up and everyone wanted to make sure I was okay. I was and soon we were all laughing about it. The hike up took about three hours. We had to dodge camels and prayed for good footing. The climb was absolutely beautiful. The stars gleamed brightly in the sky and the milky way was a vague band across the sky. The surrounding mountains made impressive silhouettes, silently engulfing us. Finally, just as it was beginning to get light, we reached the stairs of repentance. A monk had wanted to repent for his sins, so he handcrafted stone steps and made a stairway to the top of the mount. They were roughly hewn and steep. Once I reached them, I knew that we were getting near the top. I wanted to go faster, as the sky was getting brighter and brighter. It was exhausting. My breath was heavy and ragged, my heart thumping wildly. It was as if I had been running a mile. People were scattered all along the stairway, sitting or standing, trying to gain their strength and catch their breathe. I always expected that the next bend would take me to the top, but they didn’t. The sky began to display ribbons of color, soft and rich. I had reached the end of the stairs. Sitting down on a ridge, I watched the sky glow brighter. When I regained more energy, I made the final, short ascent to the small church that sits at the very top. People from all over the world were congregated there. I drifted through the crowd, Spanish, Romanian, Korean, and Arabic words swirling around me. I made my way to a stone wall, joining other waiting people. A huge, orange sphere emerged from the distant horizon. As it gained height, it acquired three layers of color, a rich orange on top, a bright orange in the middle, and a hot yellow on the bottom. People were singing hymns, praying, or silently watching in wonder as the sun washed the world anew. After a time, people began to disperse and begin the long descent back down. Walking down, I could see the steps clearly. I could not believe that I had managed to scale them in the dark. I rejoined my group at a predesignated meeting site partially down the mountain and we finished the descent together. The climb down hurt my knees, partially because one was bruised from when I fell, but mainly because it was so steps were so steep.

Church on Mt.Sinai

Sunrise on Mt.Sinai

Welcoming the Sun

Elijah's Basin

The final part of our Mt.Sinai trip entailed a visit to St. Catherine’s Monastery. I got to see a descendant of the burning bush inside her walls. As a joke, the monks had put a fire extinguisher nearby. My friend and I did not stay long since we were exhausted, so we went to find a place to wait for the bus. When the bus came at 10am, it had a bad wheel.That had to get fixed. Everyone was grumpy, but there was nothing we could do except try to sleep.

St. Catherine

Descendent of the Burning Bush

The next few days passed in a relaxed manner. One day I decided to do some shopping. Most of the shopkeepers are huge flirts. One of them was telling me that he had not smiled nor laughed for a week until I came along and that I had good blood/spirit. He preceded to ask me if I were single and liked Egyptian men…But apart from that topic, somehow we began discussing economics. The price of vegetables has skyrocketed. For example, tomatoes used to only be at most LE 7 ($1.23) for a kilo but within a short period of time they went all the way up to LE 12 ($2.11) for a kilo, almost double. This is hurting the average Egyptian greatly as their meager budgets cannot handle these high prices. According to prime minister Ahmed Nazif, the government will be “adopting policies and procedures designed to protect low-income families from the current bout of inflation.” Keeping food prices down is very important for Egypt’s stability. In April 2008, there were riots in the streets over high food prices, resulting in violent clashes between the government and the people. Life is very tough for people here. “The official minimum wage per month of LE35 ($6.25) hasn’t changed since 1984…and 40 per cent of Egypt’s population lives well below the international poverty line, according to recent statistics by the Egyptian Investment Authority (EIA).” What I can make in less than an hour in the States, an Egyptian needs to put in a month. In Dahab I would spend LE 35 on single meal…how is it possible to feed a family for a month with that? As if that is not bad enough, according to one of my professors, right when people get hired, they are often made to sign a paper that will release them work. Thus, their employer can date it and sign it whenever they want. Many do not have job security because of this. Also many work in the informal sector, which is not stable as well.

Since Dahab is a tourist town, everyone is pretty well off, however, the Bedouins were a reminder of the wealth gap. One night I went on a camel ride up the side of a nearby mountain. A young Bedouin boy, perhaps seven years old, was leading my friend’s camel. He was barefoot for the entire three hours of our journey over sand, rocks, stones, and streets. I asked him is he was a student and he said no. He will probably grow up leading tourists on camel trips around the area like his father. There is nothing wrong with leading a Bedouin lifestyle and leading tourists, but they better be paid a fair wage for their work and given the opportunity to pursue their ideal lifestyle.

Camel Ride

Returning to Cairo and to my normal life, whatever that means, was difficult. Our bus back was late by three hours so we did not arrive to the dorms until four in the morning. I had to wake up two and a half hours later to get ready for school, break out of my vacation mentality, and readjust to the hectic Cairo life.

Ma’a Salaama!

Thucydides 2 – Plague

Friday, October 15th, 2010

According to Thucydides here are the symptoms of the plague that ravished Athens in the second year of the Peloponnesian War

  • A violent heat in the head
  • Redness and inflammation in the eyes
  • The inward parts (throat or tongue) become bloody and emit an unnatural and fetid breath
  • Follwed by sneezing and hoarseness
  • Upon reaching the stomach the person discharges of bile of “every kind named by physicians” followed by an “ineffectual retching…producing violent spasms
  • Externally no sign of fever, but the skin is “reddish, livid, and breaking out into small pustules and ulcers
  • Internal fever and “the miserable feeling of not being able to rest or sleep”
  • Patients usually succumb after seven to eight days, but if they last past that the sickness moves into “the bowels, inducing a violent ulceration there accompanied by severe diarrhea
  • If the patient doesn’t die after this point, the sickness settles in the “privy parts, the fingers, and the toes” which caused the patients to lose those extremities
  • Some surviving patients suffered from a loss of memory upon recovery

From this list it can be assumed that certain symptoms are related to each other based on where in the body the originate from. As such here is a list of related symptoms and the medical theory behind them

  • The Head: Fever, redness and inflammation in the eyes. Based on the fact that Thucydides lists these symptoms first and states explicitly later on that the illness first hits the head, it can be assumed that in Greek medical theory, illness begins with the head and then moves through the rest of the body from there. This theory is backed by the following quote which supports the idea that the head is where illness begins “Dejection which ensued when anyone felt himself sickening, for the despair into which they instantly fell took away their power of resistance, and left them much easier prey to the disorder”.
  • The Throat: Throat or tongue becoming bloody and emitting an “unnatural and fetid breath” followed by sneezing and hoarseness. The fact that the illness moves down from the head shows an understanding on the part of the Greek of an understanding of the connectedness within the body similar to that of the circulatory system in modern parlance. This particular theory can be applied to the rest of systems and will be brought up again later.
  • The Stomach: A discharge of “bile of every kind named by physicians” and an “ineffectual retching” and “violent spasms.” Death can occur after this stage. The external symptoms of the illness can also be said to be related to the stomach in that they seem to appear around the same time the illness has moved into the stomach. From this it can be assumed that in Greek medical theory the stomach and the skin are somehow related and, more importantly, that the stomach is the seat of life, as it were. The discharge of bile is particularly important to this theory in that it shows the connection between the life force and the biles that control life.
  • The Bowels and outer extremities: Diarrhea (in the bowels) and the loss of fingers and some cases eyes (outer extremities). While these two areas of the body and their symptoms aren’t connected in the way other symptoms were, the fact that the illness ends (either in survival or in death) at these points shows modern readers where the Greeks believed things went. It would make sense logically that in a system similar to the modern circulatory system, what goes through the bottom would either leave it through the bottom or through the loss of fingers, toes, or “privy parts.” While the Greeks may not have known about the circulatory system as modern readers do, the end point of the disease shows the beginnings of that theory.