We had a well-deserved late morning today, and most of the crew shuffled in for breakfast shortly before closing time at 10:30 a.m. Why get up an earlier when you don’t leave until noon? J
The only agenda item for the Band today was to travel to, set up, rehearse and perform in concert at Cairo University. The Friends/Alumni group departed at 11:30 for their visit to The Egyptian Museum and then would be in attendance at the 6:00 p.m. concert by the Band. All in all, it was a good time for a morning break, and by the time we loaded the buses, people were “ready to go!”
Since the Friends group had heard all about the Egyptian Museum from the students who had already visited this world-famous complex, they were anxious to see all there was to see. After four hours of viewing artifacts from Tutankhamun alone, they knew there was absolutely no way to see the entire Egyptian Museum in one day, let alone two! We did manage to spend a few moments reviewing the infamous “Mummy Galleries,” but seriously, the rest of the time was on the second floor – learning from our trusty guide Ahmed all there was to know about what was found in this boy king’s tomb. I cannot even begin to describe that which we saw, or to tell you how affected one can be by seeing these exhibits. We’ve heard about them, seen pictures of them, maybe even have seen copies of some of these items, but nothing compares to seeing the “real thing.”
Tutankhamun reigned for only nine years in the 14th century BC, yet his artifacts stand the test of time. In fact, we were to a person amazed at how well preserved these displays were, despite the fact that the Egyptian Museum hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1863. It seems to us that the display cases are ancient as well, and that it would be incredibly easy to see all of this destroyed in a mild earthquake or some event…...thank goodness a “new” Egyptian Museum is planned to be opened in 2014 – if only for security alone!
The Band unloaded their instruments and set up for the first time since their Brandon Concert last week. Rehearsal went well in this immense hall (this is where President Obama gave his “Address to the Muslim World” last year). Following rehearsal, the students were given a tour of portions of this massive university – 250,000 students call Cairo University their college home. When they returned from the tour, it didn’t take long for them to tell me that CU students pay $20/year for tuition. Hmmmm, imagine that. We can spend that in the Huddle for lunch! J
The concert was scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m., but people continued pouring into the Hall until well after 6:15…….so………the concert began on “Egyptian time.” The Hall held more than 3,000 seats and we were pleased to have at least 1,000 of them filled – especially considering we are here right in the middle of the CU student final exams!
(Approaching CU's famous Main Building)
(Sunset on campus)
The Band performed beautifully, and to a wildly responsive audience. “We have never heard music like this!” we heard. The President of Cairo University sat proudly in the front row, along with two Vice Presidents and other CU officials. American Embassy officials were present as were a group of four high school exchange students from the US (upstate NY, Milwaukee, San Antonio TX, and California were their homes).
The Augustana Band on stage at Cairo University.
Following an exchange of gifts, many pictures were taken, including one on the front steps of the Hall, and the evening came to a close.
Band President Laura Ayres receiving flowers from the President of Cairo University
Official photos were taken on the front steps.......my photo is not "official...!"
This is what it's all about for me. New friendships bridge understanding between people/nations.
As we say back home, “Uffda!” This was truly a night to remember.
Oh, yes, sunny and 73 degrees today. A tad smoggy this morning, but it got better as the day wore on. :-)