Friday, May 26, 2006

First thoughts

What will this blog be about? I think it's fair to say that the first several weeks will be an exercise in trial and error. At least for now, my blog has three purposes. First, I think it will be a better format to keep you guys (friends and family) updated on what's going on in my life. I studied abroad in Syria during the spring of 2005, and writing long mass emails became a hassle. I hope the blog makes staying in touch easier. I know I'll miss home.
Second, I'll write about Egypt. These are exciting (and scary) times in the Middle East, and the possibility for serious change in Egyptian politics is real. The blog will give me a forum to write about what's going on in Cairo, and it should force me to read the local papers a few times a week. Translating should be a good exercise.
And third, (assuming I can figure out the technical aspects) the blog will allow me to keep my radio journalism skills in shape. Stay tuned for interviews with people all across the spectrum from shopkeepers to NGO employees to friends and professors.

A little background on me: I'm set to graduate from Swarthmore College this weekend. I majored in political science and minored in history. My main interest since I arrived at Swarthmore has been Middle Eastern politics. I started studying Arabic during the 2003 summer at Columbia University. I did an intensive at Middlebury College the following summer, and studied abroad in Syria during the 2005 spring semester. I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and went to the Bank Street School for Children through 8th grade. My mother still lives in New York with her boyfriend Len Rodberg, a professor at Queens College (my father died when I was 12). My brother is going to law school in DC in the fall, and my sister is an English teacher in Brooklyn. When I get back from Cairo, I'll be looking for a job in journalism.

Another way I could have written my background: I'm the youngest child of two New York psychiatrists.

How much time I'll have to write and post on this blog remains to be seen. My primary reason for being in Cairo is Arabic. The program I'm in is called CASA (Center for Arabic Study Abroad). You can find it here. It's run out of Emory University. Classes are taught at the American University in Cairo. Supposedly it's pretty intense. I'll certainly let you know. By the end I'll be reading full books and writing papers in Arabic, or so I've been told.

I promise future posts will be more interesting. I expect to start using this for real in mid-June.