Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Oles in Cairo

I love being an Ole. Every time I get to tell someone I graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, I have a healthy dose of pride in my voice. Especially being away from Manitou Hill during the Christmas fest season, I feel a strong connection to my alma mater and rejoice for all the people there who are enjoying the blessings of living and serving on a hilltop in southern Minnesota.

One exceptional benefit about being an Ole is an extraordinary world-wide connection. Wherever you go, Oles are tied together with an inescapable and deep understanding of shared experiences and similar morals, ideals, and lifestyles. Like camp folk, I feel as though Oles always have each other’s back and tend to be so sympathetic and helpful with each other.

And then the time comes for Oles to reunite in Cairo, Egypt! For the second time this fall, I’ve met a group of Oles traveling through the area on a study abroad program. Back in Sept/October the Global Semester was studying in Cairo—the same program I participated in two years ago when I first discovered my love for Egypt. This time it’s the Global Term in the Middle East (T.I.M.E.) led by Jackie and Mack Gimse passing through for 5 weeks.

We’ve had the fortune of spending some quality time with these lovely Oles. We first met them when they came to St. Andrew’s United Church of Cairo (yes, where I work) for worship one weekend. We instantly clicked—partially because we’re all young adults in a foreign country, and for me, partially because they are my Ole peers! We had some of them over on two occasions for hanging out and watching movies, and one day Jason and I were graciously invited to attend the Sunday brunch at the Marriott.

In typical Ole fashion, a number of the students were interested in learning more about St. Andrew’s Children Education Program and they decided to come to school for a couple days to volunteer. It was such a blessing for them to come! I had them help out in two children classrooms during English class so the St. Andrews students could have more personal attention and hear a native English speaker. I know the students absolutely loved having them around, and I was pleased to hear the Oles enjoyed it as well. It also served as a time for me to see just how much some students are struggling in their English. One lesson was all about the weather and even talking about something as simple as the temperature and weather in Cairo versus Sudan or America was hard enough for these children to understand and communicate. (Please pray we have more tutors next term; we really need them!)

One morning Dick set up a time for the Oles and me to talk with the lay leaders (James, Ayed Samuel, and James) of the Dinca and Nuer tribes. The Dinca and Nuer are two tribes from south Sudan who have their own worship services (in their tribal languages and customs) as St. Andrews. For over two hours we sat in the conference room and shared stories and ideas. We spent a lot of time asking them questions and learning more about their needs and concerns (resettlement vs. repatriation vs. staying in Egypt, harassment and racism, being recognized by the UNHCR and the benefits (or lack therefore) of having a blue card, the vast and troubling medical problems dealing with sex, rape, prenatal care, AIDS, diseases, malnutrition, FGM, etc., the need for bibles written in their own language, the need for more money to pay for daily necessities and shelter, etc.). In the end, when we asked what we could do, they said, “Please pray for us, for the future of our people. Pray that God will help us. Also, pray for the education of our people.”


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