Egyptian odyssey: First SST unit in the Middle East is transformed by living in a country on the brink of revolution

Photo by David Zwier '12

In the Fall of 2010, 19 Goshen College students engaged in a fascinating Study-Service Term in Egypt under the leadership of Director of International Education Tom Meyers. After a semester, the students returned home on the eve of a turning point of history: the popular uprising that forced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt for three decades. Four of the students have shared their transformative experiences.

Learning Arabic prepares Goshen students for semester in Egypt

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As a group of 19 Goshen College students prepared to depart for a semester of study and service in Egypt on Sept. 2 — the first time the college has sent a group to the Middle East — President Jim Brenneman offered them words of encouragement: “This is a historic moment. A little over two years ago we had this dream that one day Goshen College students would be able to bridge that great divide between … the Muslim and the Christian worlds. … It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for you all,” he said. “As-salaamu Aleikum (Peace be unto you).” After a second, the group of students replied, “Wa-Aleikum As-salaam (And unto you, peace).”

Goshen College heads to the Middle East with new study abroad location in Egypt

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With the current international situation being described as the “clash of civilizations” (the clash between the two largest religious traditions in the world, Islam and Christianity), Goshen College has decided that now is the time to “find its way to the Middle East in a new opportunity for learning through our well-established Study-Service Term program,” said President James E. Brenneman. The decision was made public at the April 14 Goshen College Afternoon Sabbatical international luncheon, which featured Egypt.