Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles


June 20, 2007

Migration

Filed under: How it works — Kaddee @ 4:44 am

We are living in a migratory population. The migration is not a wholesale yearly migration, as one sees with certain animal species, but is a fragmentary process that involves some AUCians every year. Some leave after 1 or 2 or 15 years, and every year new people arrive. The turnover is patchy, and in many cases not involving the people that I would have chosen. :)

In more direct terms, this is the time of year that AUC faculty and staff who have completed their contracts, and have not renewed, begin flying away to the (LITERAL) four corners of the planet. On my floor there are 4 apartments. We are the only people who will be staying. Three new sets of newbies as of August!

With friends packing up and heading out, there are LOADS of things that aren’t worth bringing back to the US (or wherever) nor are they trashed enough to toss. Jack and I ran into this problem when we left the States. So what do you do with all that stuff?

!!GIVE IT TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE STAYING!!

We have “inherited” everything from mismatched wine glasses, to beautiful ceramic serving dishes, to a dozen cans of water chestnuts. No kidding!

We are unlikely to need/want all this stuff, so we are planning to assist the newbies in settling in by distributing some of the silly, household things that you “need” when you move into a new place. We figure a welcome party with a “give away” table will suit.

Having never lived in a community that experienced this type of annual flux, this seems a little odd, but…we’re learning.

June 11, 2007

Jordan – part 1: Petra

Filed under: Travel — Kaddee @ 6:19 am

Ok, Ok, Ok – It has been over 2 months since the trip and I haven’t posted about it yet. Well, here goes.

We headed to Amman, Jordan on March 30th with two traveling companions/colleagues for a whirlwind tour of many places that I’ve read about, but never figured I’d actually see. The “loose” itinerary included Petra, Wadi Rum, Dead Sea, Jerash and Amman, all in 10 days! It is a bit odd to think about visiting places like Petra and the Dead Sea. I’ve heard about them, read about them, but somehow they have never taken on the identity of “real” places. They have always been on par with places like Mt. Everest or the deep sea trenches – Yes they exist, but not for “real people”.

Our adventure began as soon as we arrived in Amman and realized that our mobile phones did not work! We’d done the voodoo that we were told would allow us roaming in Jordan, and we’d received SMS messages indicating that they should work – but alas. After some effort and frustration, we managed to find the friend of one of our companions with whom we were staying! Lovely sushi (Yes – raw fish in Amman Jordan!) dinner and back to the flat. Ah a good night’s sleep after traveling.

We’d booked a taxi to take us to Petra. This, apparently, is common practice for getting around virtually all of Jordan. There were 4 of us, and all our luggage in a small 4-door sedan for about 3 hours to get to Petra! OY VEY. Not the most comfortable situation, but…

Taybet Zaman was a cool, although pricey, unusual “village/hotel” about 25 minutes from the entrance to the Petra site. It is on the site of an old Ottoman village and is a “restoration” of the village. Rooms are Bedouin/stucco. Very cavernous and refreshingly cool.

We spent 2 days wandering the site that is Petra. Words cannot begin to describe what it is like. The site is EXTREMELY large, so it never felt “overcrowded”. We wandered and discovered many of the sites, without any agenda or even expectations. The fact that we were there was enough, and the more places, carvings, beautiful oxidation patterns in the stone we found the more thrilled we were. My favorite was the “High Place of Sacrifice” with its very cool altar and a view that seemed to go forever.

Pictures of our 2 days in Petra are HERE. Sorry so many – this was trimmed down from 250 photos!

Our last evening in Petra happened to be a Monday. The site is partially open on Monday and Thursday nights for “Petra at Night” events. For this event, the site from the entry gate, thru the Siq to the courtyard in front of the Treasury is lined with candle lumieres. There are about 1800 candles lining the 2km walk! Even after spending 2 days in Petra, walking the Siq twice in each direction, the experience after dark was incredible. Romantic – especially since we had a full moon. Surreal.

The mind plays tricks in situations like Petra after Dark. Shadows move in the breeze and become Nabataean worshipers or craftsmen on their way to the ancient city. The city could be alive. As we approached the end of the Siq, hauntingly beautiful Bedouin flute music floated up the rocky passageway. It was TRULY like a dream. It is an experience that I can and will never forget. (Unfortunately, my point-and-shoot could not take nighttime pictures of candles and moonlight – Jack has some incredible shots from this experience)

The end of innocence

Filed under: How it works — Kaddee @ 5:44 am

“The administration has decided that because AUC does not acknowledge a D- grade a score of 60% shall be considered a D.”

June 4, 2007

Standards? or Bitch?

Filed under: Being There — Kaddee @ 7:03 am

That is the current question. I have just submitted grades for the Spring semester classes. In one class (upper division, required for the major) I had 3 students fail. Their scores throughout the semester were…marginal, at best. There was a small rally near the end of the semester, but definitely a case of too little too late.

I called the students in to my office, on more than one occasion after the first midterm, to tell them to “get with the program” as they were in danger of failing the class. I tried joking with them and I tried threatening them. In the end, their scores were all below the passing range.

This seems like a fairly straightforward situation. Student does not perform to the standards set forth for the class, student fails. What if the student is supposed to graduate, and failing this course means that they can’t graduate? This is my plight.

Because AUC does not allow D- grades, according to the grading system on my syllabus, a D grade (passing) is a 62.5% or higher. My three students scored 59%, 56% and 49%.

I abhor submitting failing grades. It is the hardest thing for me, when it comes to being a teacher. Yet there is a certain proficiency in the subject matter that is assumed if a student passes the course.

So….Standards? or Bitch?

I know what I think. I think I know what the student thinks.

“Life is hard, let’s bake a cake” :(

***********************************

Update: one day later

Two of the students have called the Chair, and other faculty in the department to try to get this “fixed” to their satisfaction.  Hoo boy!