One of the beautiful days regarding International Day at the American University In Cairo, is that it brings vigilance to other cultures and nations. Visitors never having stepped outside of Egypt get a taste of the world, and the different shaping, design, and patterns of humanity. Its nutritious and fulfilling. Unique fashions, Earth’s spices and culinary from distant lands. A fascinating wonder, and even more is that it is living proof that humanity is able to co-exist. Not only co-exist, but to also celebrate the myriad existence, in this miracle, called human nature.
Each year, there is a different theme. Whether its FIFA Cup of Nations, Dance, Music, or Fiction, students and members of the AUC community are given the opportunity to showcase how their nation performs this theme. That year’s theme (March 6, 2018) was “AUC Time Machine.” Different booths are set up, and the flags of nations are displayed ardently and euphorically for all to see. Its a wonderful vision. There were many precious moments. No matter the political climate of the genre, the decade, or the day, all of that came to a halt during AUC’s International Day! The celebration was of humanity. That’s what made it so special. Creativity and human fascination has a way of doing that. Exploration of the human spirit has a persona of ending divisions, prejudices, and bigotry-even if it is just for a day or moment.
Representing my country for the Spring 2018 International Day took on a special meaning. A representation, which is extremely relevant for today’s time. It was during the time of US athletes kneeling in protest of police violence and brutality against unarmed Black American youth. And here, we are in 2020, dealing with the same issue. Its interesting how photos can be just as significant in the past, as they are in the future. Yet, there is a different tone and touch to this image. It is not one of grief, but one of acknowledgement. Celebrating in the moment, and being educated on a peculiar community.
There are a number of people entering the American University In Cairo’s New Cairo campus gardens on International Day. When venturing to the United States of America’s booth, some have been shocked. Who is this brown-colored woman, with tightly-curled hair, holding the US flag? Is she really American? Where are you really from? Its interesting isn’t it? And yet, we too, sing America! To see the feminine image of Black America, represented is interpreted as “odd” for some. Welcome to America, honey chile’! Land of the free, and magical people, once enslaved. Introducing the maidens and daughters of Black America’s soils! International Day at the American University in Cairo is not only a form of celebration, but it is also educational.
I remember dancing with Armenian, Egyptian, and other young maidens dressed in the decor of their nation. Our differences didn’t matter, for Universal rhythm was moving our feet. Attuning our movements to each other, while experiencing the human beat! We sang songs of each other’s cultures. Lebanese women taught me the step patterns of their nation. The event was enchanting, and it was too sacred to end on programmed timing. Such memories have to linger on. Spreading their sacred love, and ending when the Universe decides so. Dancing and celebration prolonged into the night, and it united the bond of humanity. A continued reminder that if humanity wants to exist, they will have to find a way to co-exist, harmoniously! Period. Its possible and the Earth reminds us of it, DAILY!
Looking at this photo, we see the feminine and masculine principles of Egyptian-Arab cultural representation. Just imagine them taking a trip to the United States. They tour all of the great landscapes, the famous cities, the most popular tourist attractions. And then, they learn about one facet of authentic US culture. Entering into different landscapes of Black America’s demographics, they taste the culinary of Soul food, dance the latest dances, and even travel to Black America’s church-based, spiritual havens, where they learn it is the foundation of its music, fashion, linguistics, and dreams. Just imagine this particular vacation. Where contrary to the traditional stereotypes, and media images, they see a people with a culture. With many cultures, in fact, as her/history forced it to be, so. They witness love and gentility among the mothers and maidens, who continue to cultivate and tend to the culture. They see romance, love, good fathers, and promising sons. Its an amazing wonder, and it is also a form of educational healing.
One of the best things you can do for a people, and culture, is acknowledge that they exist. One of the most healing anecdotes you can do for a culture of women, is to honor their existence within their own gardens! For Black American women (those whose mothers toiled and labored harshly in US soiling), to be recognized in their communities and culture, as the feminine image, is a form of restoration. It means that gentility and softness is connected to their existence; contrary to hardened objects of abuse and exploitation. Ah! To even articulate such Heavenly tastes, are many breaths of fresh air.
This photo carries a vintage aura. The Egyptian-Arab spiritual coupling in the photograph clearly acknowledges this part of the United States. This particular people, whom collectively have too often been portrayed as a negative; and yet, their culture is found, everywhere! This people of impossibilities, who have been depicted as “Motherless;” whose men have been presented as supposedly without a natural feminine component of their own cultural, and ethnic, existence. Capturing that presence was magical. Furthermore, it is one of love and devotion. The fact that people can be open to appreciation, acceptance, and understanding. That people are willing to learn is one of the greatest delights of International Day at the American University In Cairo! Its beautiful and a form of holistic wellness.
We captured ourselves together. If we were to do another fictional story to these images, we could imagine young, Black American maidens flying to Egypt, and being welcomed by those spiritual feminine and masculine, Egyptian-Arab couplings that you can see through the city of Cairo, and other spaces of Egypt’s paradise. Learning, meeting with other special maidens of the land, and soaking in all the wonders of its womb. And, before they depart, they make sure that they capture themselves with the spiritual complements of the Egyptian feminine and masculine energy principles. Pouring something back into the land and waters, as blessings for it’s delight. Treasuring that image until a further return. Safeguarding the memories and spiritual teachings; while continuing the nourishment and fruition of their own cultural gardens. Perhaps, that’s one of the underlying messages of the photo.
As always, International Day 2018 was more than a success. From the parade of nations, the decorations of different lands, to the oh so eloquent, cultural attire, its a given that humanity can appreciate difference. The world can celebrate difference! A hidden lesson that people can take pride in their authentic, and natural cultures, while giving a thumbs up to those of a different, cultural coloring! That’s the power of life! Its the magic of being open to difference. Furthermore, releasing the ego, allows one to see just how interconnected cultures can be. Nations can be. A phenomenon at best! A ritual cleansing needed by humanity, in performing Heaven’s agreement in the true mattering of ALL LIVES!