“Today was a marvelous day! At the temple, which was the first part of the day tour, I had this really amazing feeling about Egypt and my amazing friends. My feelings towards my friends can NOT be downsized into words. It’s beyond defining. I am surrounded by many diverse and different people who brought with them to share their amazing customs and traditions. Now I feel I am not only Egyptian but a bit of each culture. We might be socially and physically different but we are, deep inside, all the same. We have a goal that we believe in and are peacefully achieving it. I think that we are coming together to form this body that is capable to make a positive change in this violent jungle that we live in and turn into a heaven for all.”
“I came to this camp knowing almost nothing about People to People International and now after 5 days I feel that I learned so many things in such little time. Today we visited the Esna Temple which is the downtown of Esna and we bought galabeyas for the party tonight. To shop in a bazaar is a really funny experience. You have to bargain. After the “bazaar experience” we cruised down the Nile and topped at the Edfu Temple and it was so beautiful. I really can’t find the right words to express its beauty. Following what the pharaohs did after every victory, we had a galabeya party. So many different cultures and dances in their own different ways. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this party and this camp. I’ll always keep these beautiful memories in my heart.” Adina, Romania
“Overnight our shipped docked in Esna, a small town with a magnificent 2300 year-old treasure: the Temple of Khnum, god of creation. This fascinating structure from the Roman Era, uncovered from beneath centuries of silt build-up, is held up by wonderfully decorated pillars that host a unique mixture of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman influences. After a tour of this great glimpse of the past, we were off to prepare for the hear future, tonight’s galebeya party. Bargaining with these experienced merchants as a young and unexpecting foreigner can be a hassle, but thankfully, with the invaluable assistance of my new friends, I was able to find a good deal. As I admired my new costume, I could not help but think about the fun that would come later tonight. When we arrived back aboard the ship, we were divided into groups to discuss each other’s religious beliefs. I found it very interesting to learn about all of the many faiths represented on the trip and I liked that I was able to share my own with everyone as well, without being judged.
For lunch we had American food in the Egyptian interpretation. It was great to see hamburgers and French fries once again, but I wanted to experiment with Middle Eastern culinary styles so I ate my hamburger on Egyptian bread with some of the different sauces to dip in. Following our meal we pulled in to Edfu, which is home to one of the most well-preserved temples in the country, built by the Greeks and dedicated to the god Horus. We learned an ancient tale of good versus evil at this massive ancient wonder, which can be paralleled to our mission of ending the problems that divide our world and promoting world peace. After more time spent exploring the site as well as the bazaar outside, we went back to our cruise to hold our next peace session.
Our discussion groups this time talked about where we must draw the line between humanity and the right privacy. We also discussed the topic of France banning religious symbols in public schools. Though I myself had mixed feelings towards this, I enjoyed hearing the many strong and conflicting views present around the table.
The 2nd part of the meeting featured Egyptian cooking lessons, taught by the head chef of all four boats used by People to People, who Barb amazingly convinced to join us. We took a quick tour of the kitchen, where we saw how each of our delicious meals was prepared by the excellent, top-notch staff on board. Soon enough it came time for dinner, in which we all dressed in our galabeyas and feasted on an enormous gourmet Egyptian buffet. This all led way to a fun-filled night full of partying and dancing. It was really cool to see that no matter where we came from or what kind of lives we lead, we’re all able to have a good time together at the end f the day. Even though we follow a well-planned and organized itinerary, half of the trip’s excitement stems from the complete randomness of each passing day. I’ve learned much about this incredible nation we’re gathered in, the world, and myself along this indescribably amazing journey, and I cannot wait to see what the next day will bring.” Tim, Philadelphia, USA
“I used to think that peace was the equivalent of sashaying in fairyland amidst pink flowers and butterflies and Miss World beauty pageants. For once, I’m glad to be proven wrong. There are few things as comforting as the knowledge that we are not alone to face the world (as unextentialist as it may sound). Throughout our years, we meet people and through them we create pieces of ourselves. In the past 5 days, 49 other kids from all over the world have given me the honor to create a part of their country and their lives in myself through their exuberance, their vitality, and their diversity. And suddenly, I’m not just one person. I am the essence of 49 different people. It is this unity amidst the diversity in us as human beings that builds peace and it is this that I have experienced in the last five days. I could tell you about how beautiful Egypt is, how great our cruise ship is, the amazing food, the fun we have interacting and talking and learning and sightseeing every day. But I would rather talk about the people. They matter. In the end, they are all that matter. I think what I have experienced through this interaction in the last five days is that peace has to be personal to work. My roommates have had American and Indian roots and I had a blast shopping with another friend from Lithuania. You see this converging of what are supposed to be irreconcilable gaps in the cultural backgrounds of people and you being to really understand. This is peace. This is our mission. This is what people die fore. Real. Tangible.
Today, at the bazaar, Armando from Albania, was helping me bargain. The shopkeeper said, “Please come in, you’re my sister. And I felt Armando come up behind me and he says, “No, she’s my sister.” I don’t have the words to explain what that meant to me. In the end, I believe it doesn’t matter how successful we are or how intelligent we are. What matters is how you touched people. What matters is whether you are remembered.
I laugh, I cry, I run and smile,
And I know you do the things too,
So we are really not that different, me and you.” Saleha, Pakistan