In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the UC Education Abroad Program will host five UC faculty-led summer study programs throughout the world, with UCSB faculty teaching a course on Arabic culinary traditions in Cairo, Egypt, from June 29 to July 28.
Associate professor of Islamic Studies Juan Campo and Arabic lecturer Magda Campo will teach the nine-unit course, which will focus on the historical and political aspects of Egyptian culinary traditions as well as their Christian and Muslim influences. The program, which costs $7,400, will provide weekend excursions to food markets, the Giza pyramids, Alexandria and a number of other historical and cultural sites.
UCEAP Executive Director and Associate Vice Provost Jean-Xavier Guinard said Egypt's ongoing revolution and political uproar make it a uniquely exciting country to visit and students enrolled in the Cairo program will be able to explore Egyptian culture beyond usual tourist destinations.
"Egypt is in the center of the Arab world and at the forefront of reform and change in that world," Guinard said in an email. "Tourists often rush to see the pyramids and Sphinx, but there is a vibrant and bustling culture most foreign visitors never experience, [which] students on the 50th anniversary faculty-led summer program will explore."
Fourth-year global studies major Sophie Tahran studied with EAP in Cairo last year during the revolutionary protests against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and needed to be evacuated from Cairo to Barcelona with 19 other U.S. citizens. Tahran said she did not feel endangered, but rather privileged to witness the transformation of Egyptian society.
"I actually went back to Egypt after [being evacuated] and I loved being back and seeing the atmosphere; it was much more celebratory. There really was such a pride in the revolution," Tahran said. "I know people get worried about the state of the conflict but I never felt unsafe. It's a really exciting time to be there — it's literally in the middle of history. I would definitely encourage anyone to go if they have the chance."
According to Magda Campo, Egyptian protests do not greatly interfere in the everyday lives of citizens, and participating students will experience this by exploring the nation's non-political cultural sphere.
"Of course there is instability, but if you go there, you will notice that life goes on and there is only instability when people are protesting," Campo said. "The protests are located in the main square — not all over Egypt — so if you are not in the square, you are not even aware there is any instability."
Juan and Magda Campo have co-taught a similar course on campus for years, but said they are excited to have the opportunity to teach the course in the region that inspired it.
Juan Campo said food plays a major role in the Egyptian history and religious influence clearly present in a number of ancient artifacts.
"You know, these ancient Egyptian food paintings have pictures of people bringing food offerings to the temple and … beautiful works of Islamic art that are metal works — bowls and dishes and eating utensils," Campo said. "It would really be an opportunity to see new things that can't be duplicated on any UC campus."