Students Experience Middle East Politics Up Close
Janet Bahgat, an adjunct professor who spent about a year planning the trip, Jan. 3-16, 2011. She chaperoned the students along with Vince Contrucci, director of community service.
"I think the situation will be resolved in the most peaceful way possible," said Bahgat, who has lived and worked in Egypt and has had ties with the country for the past 32 years. Bahgat, who met and married her husband while working in Egypt, said she fell in love with the country's culture and wanted to share it with her QU 301 students.
"We had an absolutely incredible experience," she said of the trip. "We went to a soccer game played between Kenya and Egypt and were treated like royalty." The Egyptians appreciated the Quinnipiac contingency for reaching out and supporting their team and nation, Bahgat said. They were even featured on national television and given scarves and flags. "We felt so good," she said. "It was an empowering experience."
The juniors and seniors, who were enrolled in a course on the global community, were prepared to leave their comfort zones, Bahgat said.
Megan McLoughlin said the trip changed her perspective on more than just Egypt. "We all became family," said McLoughlin, who said members of the class still meet for dinner. "I would highly recommend this trip. It's a trip of a lifetime."
She said she believes the way Egypt is being described in the media is skewed. "I think a lot of what is being portrayed is negative," McLoughlin said. "We met a lot of great people over there. Everywhere we went, we felt welcome. I didn't want to leave."
The class visited pyramids, the Valley of the Kings, mosques, temples and took camel rides. The group spent 10 days in Cairo and four days in Upper Egypt. "This was an incredible opportunity to see a different part of the world," Bahgat said. "Egypt is a country of contrasts. You have the extremely wealthy and the extremely poor, the extremely modern and the extremely ancient."
"It's a life-changing trip I will never forget," said Jake Glebocki '11. "The fact it was supplemented with the Quinnipiac course made it even better. I was able to take what I learned in class and apply it immediately to the real world."
Bahgat said she was grateful to have been able to bring her students. "Egypt is the ultimate in hospitality," Bahgat said. "It's the crossroads of cultures and influences."
Regardless of what happens, however, Bahgat said she is confident that a strong relationship will remain between the U.S. and Egypt. "Egyptians love the West and Americans," she said. "They are inherently peace-loving and I don't think that will ever change."
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