Saturday, June 04, 2005

Moving On

Welcome to Cairo American College
I went to the Cairo American College graduation on Friday morning at the Sound And Light theatre at the Sphinx. Unfortunately, having staggered out of bed at 6 am to get organised for getting there on time, I forgot my camera, so you'll have to get by with the photo on the website for the school to give you a rough idea of the high point of the morning.

My high school graduation was a ceremony that took place on a football field on a June afternoon in 1967. My children both graduated from CAC in front of the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza on June mornings about four and six years ago. Do I even need to ask which event would be more memorable?

This was one of many graduations that I've attended at the Sphinx, as I've been attending them for my own children and their friends since 1996. The school has been holding its graduation ceremonies in the location for over fifty years. This year's graduating class at CAC was pretty representative with about 115 graduating seniors from twelve different countries. Although it's called Cairo American College, about half of the students are Egyptian, and over two thirds are usually non-American. But the curriculum is American, even when the culture is a fascinating pot pouri. In recent years with the American concern for safety abroad, the school has become more security conscioius, to the bewilderment of many of the students. Consider the oddity of protecting students from members of their own society. The fact is that most of the students find themselves happily at home in Cairo once the strangeness has worn off. The general safety in the streets (as long as you aren't crossing them!), the richness of the culture, the array of things to do, and the relative inexpensiveness of moving about that gives them freedom in the city are pretty seductive.

I sat there with my friends listening to the student speakers framed against the pyramids and I looked around me. The family I was sitting with were Lebanese/Finnish, while the other friends were British, Canadian, Indian, and American. A cheerful and enthusiastic crowd of Swedes waved a banner in blue and yellow. Massive extended families cheered for many of the Egyptian graduates. The scene was one of friendly solidarity. The podium was flanked by enormous American and Egyptian flags, a sheikh called for a blessing of the graduates at the beginning of the ceremony while the pastor of the Maadi Community Church blessed the group at the end. No matter where the children came from originally, they all acknowledged that their lives had been changed by living in Egypt.

Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be.


Mighty MaMa said...

Sounds like it was a lovely graduation. I love your positive writings about the Middle-east. Your right, the solidarity at the graduation is how we as humans should be. Thanks again for helping me remember fond memories. I loved the sound & light show at the Sphinx when i was in Egypt.

Clara said...

Sounds wonderful!