The Walk to Preschool

With blocks in the preschool

Our family lives in the Cairo suburb of Maadi, which is an upper to upper-middle-class neighborhood composed of many foreigners. Our particular house, however, is toward the border region consisting of more ordinary Egyptians, living at a lower-middle-class neighborhood. We featured this area in an earlier post following the sectarian attacks in Imbaba, Cairo, wondering if something similar could take place nearby.

We would like to present the following video walk through our neighborhood, following the path from our home to where our middle daughter goes to preschool. In a previous post we described the circumstances forcing us to move our children from the Coptic Orthodox Church preschool, when it closed down. We did a previous walking video tour to this preschool (from our old home), which you can watch here.

The new preschool was opened just recently by one of the teachers from the church preschool, and we are happy to keep our daughters in her care. She opened the preschool in the ground floor apartment owned by the family, where she lives above. This area, however, causes us to ‘cross the tracks’, so to speak. It is an area we are not fully familiar with, but in time, walking this route, we will become so. Hopefully people also become accustomed to us.

Video One (nine minutes) – Starting off until the dividing road

Video Two (four minutes) – An unexpected pause in videoing

Video Three (three minutes) – Inside the preschool

For an epilogue, first watch the videos, and then read on …

At the door of the preschool garden

At the beginning of video three I wondered if I should go back to those who were concerned about a stranger videoing in their neighborhood. I did, with Hannah in tow. As I approached and greeted them they smiled, saying they understood what was going on once I entered the preschool. Coming out with Hannah surely helped, but they stated they recalled my wife pushing the stroller along the way previously. They stated there was much uncertainty in the country, and rumors of foreign interference. There were no hard feelings.

As we continued the walk back we turned the corner and someone else called out. He also was concerned about the videoing, but was able to accept our explanations. He spoke very good English, has worked extensively with foreigners in the oil company offices of Maadi, and offered both his business card and an invitation to an Egyptian meal.

We are very comfortable living in Egypt, but sometimes this can make you forget about the sensitivities. Egypt is going through a tumultuous time in its history, and while there is much welcome to foreigners, there is also some stoked xenophobia. It is our hope that an open heart and appreciation for the many blessings of this culture might come through in our interactions with others; we wish to represent them – and ourselves – well.

There are many paths toward peace, but we are glad to have among the simplest of roles in getting to know people, making friendships, and sharing our lives together. It was not our intention to enroll our daughter in a preschool of that area, but it is where life, and God, have brought us. Perhaps a touch of un-wisdom started us off on the wrong foot; but perhaps an apology and explanation set it straight. The real work will be done by my wife and daughters, every other day walking through town, not interacting (as would be inappropriate as a woman with men on the street) but displaying confidence in the people, hopefully demonstrating that we are ok. We may not belong, but we seek to. Perhaps over an Egyptian meal to come we might display this more deeply.

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