We began our morning with a trip to a newly renovated Egyptian grade school. The school was one 100 public schools in Egypt that are to be renovated under a plan put forth by the First Lady of Egypt, H.E. Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak. It was an impressive display of the best Egypt has to offer; a peek into the future of Egypt’s education system.
Keeping with the theme of the youth of Egypt, our next stop was at an Egyptian orphanage. It was once again a glance into the dreams of Egypt’s future. The facilities were just over three years old and well kept. Yet the greatest achievement was not in the orphanage’s buildings, but instead it was the miracles inside. It was amazing to see a place that is typically thought of as a place of sadness to be so full of hope. It was a privilege to look into the eyes of the children and see only happiness.
After a little bit of free time we joined the adult delegation for an Interfaith Panel. We heard experts on religious relations in the Middle East and Africa give their thoughts on the current state of affairs. It was particularly interesting to notice that they all shared a common theme: religion is meant to be a force that unites people rather than divides them. Furthermore, they asserted that no conflicts past or present have been driven by truly religious motives. They proposed that we should instead view these conflicts in economic and political perspectives. In the end, they shared a message of hope and encouraged us to continue educating our peers, working our hardest to share our dream of world peace and eliminate ignorance.
To conclude our final day, we headed to a stationary boat on the river for a traditional Egyptian dinner. While the food itself was wonderful as usual, tonight’s dinner took a backseat to the general atmosphere. It was a night filled with hugs, pictures and shared memories. We did our best to negotiate the complex waters with which we were faced. On one hand, a wonderful experience came to an end. On the other hand, the mission that we all so passionately pursue is just beginning. We go forward with heavy hearts, saying our goodbyes, uncertain of when we will meet again. In spite of that, this feeling reminds us that citizens of 27 different countries came together and parted knowing that we share more than just memories. We share a world.
Michael Shoenfelt - USA