Egypt Talk: FLTA Presentation

Elsayed Elsisi, 2018/19 Arabic FLTA, Presents "Egypt, Mother of the World"

Image: Elsayed Elsisi
Elsayed Elsisi
On 9-May 2019, students in Arabic took a break from their studies to listen to Elsayed Elsisi, the 2018/19 Arabic Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA). He gave a presentation on "Egypt, Mother of the World." The event was sponsored by BU's Department of Middle Eastern and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and organized by Prof. Omid Ghaemmaghami.

Egypt is Elsayed's home country, and students and others appreciated the chance to discover and learn about Egypt's history, the customs and traditions of its peoples, and more. They also appreciated the feast prepared by Bashas's Lebanese Grill — indeed, a wonderful time was had by all!

Image: Naile Akhter
Naile Akhter
Here follow Naile Akhter's impressions of the event, written in Arabic and translated into English. Naile is class of 2020 and double majors in Arabic Studies and Economics.

قبل أن حضرت تقديم السيّد عن مصر التي لقّبت بـــ «أمّ الدنيا» سبق لي أن اهتممت بها. فقد بدأت أدرس العامّيّة المصريّة وتعلّمت عن بعض التقاليد المصريّة كما تعرّفت على شتى جوانب الثقافة المصريّة. ومع ذلك فإنّ من خلال تقديم استغرق مجرّد ساعة واحدة جعلني السيّد أرغب في السفر إلى مصر أكثر من أيّ وقت مضى. فتغلغل السيّد في التفاصيل عن اللغة حيث أوضح أنّ الفصحى و العاميّة كلتيهما مهمّتان في سياقات اجتماعيّة مختلفة. وتكلّم السيّد عن المأكولات الطيّبة الموجودة في مصر والأعياد التي يحتفل بها المصريّون ومن بينها رمضان و شمّ النسيم ونظام السياحة. وعلاوة على ذلك فإنّه زادنا علمًا عن وطنه. ويتّصف السيّد بالدم الخفيف والأخلاق الحسنة وأتى بنكات أي بكلامٍ مستملح وكان يتحدّث إلى الحضور كأنّه يحكى قصّة. وأظنّ أن نوع القصص الشخصيّة التي رواها السيّد هي ما يحبّ معظم الطلاب المهتمّين بالشرق الأوسط أن يسمعوها. وتطرّق السيّد أيضًا إلى التقاليد المصريّة واهتمام المصريّين بشكل عامّ بالحياة الأسريّة وكذلك كرم الضيافة تجاه الضيوف والأجانب. وعلى سبيل المثال فإنّ السيّد وصف مشهدًا حيث أصيب شخص في الشارع بمرض وعلى الفور جاءت مجموعة كبيرة من المصريّين لتقديم المساعدة له. وفي الجزء الأخير من التقديم تكلّم السيّد عن سبب تركه وظيفته واختياره أن يقدّم الطلب لبرنامج فولبرايت ويقضي سنة في أمريكا يدرس ويدرّس. فقال إنّه استلهم من الأجانب الذين سافروا من كلّ أنحاء العالم إلى مصر. وبدأ السيّد أن يقيم علاقة الصداقة معهم ويتمرّن على الكلام باللغة الإنجليزيّة ويلمّ بخلفياتهم المختلفة. وإنّي أعجبت بالطريقة التي يستطيع السيّد بها أن يقيم علاقة الصداقة مع أيّ شخص يقابله وكيف استمرّ في هذه السلوك والتصرّفات الجميلة بعد انتقاله إلى بينغامتون. وفي نهاية تقديمه ذكر السيّد أنّ أهمّ وأطيب عمل يمكن للإنسان أن يقوم به هو التعرّف على الآخرين والتشجيع على التفاهم والاحترام. وأعتقد أنّ هذه الدروس مهمّة جدًا خاصةً للطلّاب الذين يهتمّون باللغة العربيّة والشعب العربيّ وينوون السفر إلى العالم العربيّ.

Image: Elsayed and Andrew Scholtz
Elsayed and Andrew Scholtz
Before attending Elsayed's presentation on Egypt — "the Mother of the World" — I had already developed an interest in the country. I was taking a class on Egyptian Arabic, and for this reason, I had already been introduced to some of the unique aspects of tradition and culture in Egypt. However, in the course of an hour, Elsayed made me want to travel to Egypt more than ever before. He spoke about the language and how both Modern Standard Arabic and colloquial are necessary within different social spaces. He talked about the delicious assortment of foods Egypt has to offer, the holidays that they celebrate, including Ramadan and Sham El-Nessim, and the large tourism industry as well. Throughout his presentation, Elsayed was both informational and light-hearted. He made jokes and spoke to the audience as if he was telling a story. Elsayed had much to say about his home country and the people there. I believe that these personal stories are what most students who have an interest in the Middle East want to hear about. He spoke about Egyptian traditions, their focus on the family, and their generosity towards guests and strangers. For example, he described a moment when someone in the streets of the city became ill, and a crowd of Egyptians immediately came forward to offer him their help. In another part of his presentation, Elsayed spoke about why he quit his job and chose to come to America. He said that he was inspired by the foreigners in Egypt that would come from each and every part of the world. He would speak to them, practice his English, and learned a lot about people of different backgrounds. I admired the way he was able to make friends with anyone he met and continued to do so here in Binghamton. At the end of his presentation, he said that the most important thing we can do as human beings is to learn about other people, teach them about ourselves, and create an environment of understanding and respect. I think that these lessons are extremely important, especially to students who have taken an interest in the Arab language and its people.

In closing, we in MEAMS wish to thank the people and groups who helped make the 2018/19 edition of the Fulbright FLTA-ship in Arabic at Binghamton University, and the reporting on this web page, happen. Those include the Office of International Education and Global Initiatives, and in that office, Patricia Bello and Susan Lewis; Harpur College and its Dean, Elizabeth Chilton; and in BU's Department of Middle Eastern and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, student Naile Akhter, and staff members Hilary Becker, Omid Ghaemmaghami, Andrew Scholtz, John Starks, Mary Youssef, and Margaret Dwyer.

Photo credits: Andrew Scholtz, Omid Ghaemmaghami