The work of our students-interns is vital for our NGO

Sent On: 
Thu, 2019-11-21
Newsletter Number: 

Veronica Merlo is Italian, studies Arabic and journalism and fell in love with the city of Alexandria, because it is so cosmopolitan with of course also a rich influence from the Italian community that once was large and vibrant in the city. She currently interns with the Center for Arab-West Understanding as part of her studies abroad.


Veronica wrote about what Alexandrians proudly call their “Medina cosmopolitiya” (cosmopolitan city). Alexandria is city on the Mediterranean Sea and has much in common with other Mediterranean cities such as Napels, Italy. When I visited Napels a few years ago I found the similarities in building styles in the old cities remarkably similar. Veronica writes that “Alexandria has distinguished itself as a place of constant interaction where people from different cultures have transited, settled and coexisted over centuries,” which was highlighted at the TEDx San Stefano conference hosted by the Jesuit Cultural Center in Alexandria. The TEDx San Stefano event, Veronica wrote, “without doubt broke many boundaries, creating a safe space where to freely exchange ideas.” This is what we need more in Egypt, safe places where open discussions in full respect for different opinions are possible. You can Veronica's article here.



Visit at the Jesuit Cultural Center, Alexandria of Egypt    Students by the Mediterranean Sea. Photo by Cornelis Hulsman


Veronica helped to organize a visit for the 20 teenagers from our CAWU Learning Center to Alexandria. These are all refugee children of whom most never had the chance of visiting Alexandria. They were excited to see the sea, enjoyed the group bonding games in the Jesuit Cultural Center and saw the rich historical heritage of Alexandria. Learning is not only about books but personal experiences greatly help in their learning process. Please click for her article here.  We are depending for such activities on donor funding and were glad that the PKN Church in Alphen aan de Rijn, the Netherlands, sponsored this visit. Our French intern Clement Ethore also studies Arabic and is now working on a visit for our Learning Center students to Fayoum because they are currently reading Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist. The story of this book ends in Fayoum oasis, around 120 km from Cairo. It would thus be exiting if we could offer these students also a visit to Fayoum. This will cost around 5000 EgP (around 280 Euro or 300$). Can you help us to make this possible?




Veronica also interviewed Maryanne Stroud Gabbani, an American woman who first arrived in Egypt in 1977 and has made Egypt her home. In the quiet area of Saqqara, she started building al-Sorat Farm, an organic farm that was established to function as an educational and recreational center. Her life history is fascinating. Please click here for her article.


Good secondary education is very costly in Egypt. The activities of student interns and our learning center for those who cannot afford the costs of a secondary school in Egypt are therefore strongly linked together. Students are in various ways involved in the Learning Center and write about their experiences and people they meet for our database. This shows users a very different image of Egypt, a country that is very diverse, providing both opportunities and challenges. Clement Ethore has worked on the Facebook page of our Learning Center where you can see much more about what is happening.



Cairo, November 21, 2019


Cornelis Hulsman