Dorm Life - reflection by Steve Gorman, Regional Liaison to Egypt
I lived in a dorm for four years at Whitworth College (now, University). I lived in barracks among language instructors at Lackland AFB also called dorms. I lived in a dorm 3-4 nights each week throughout seminary. I know dorms.
Now, in Egypt, we found ourselves again in a dorm. How is living as late middle aged people in a men's dorm different from all the earlier experience?
- the relationships here for us were very polite and sensitive. The men, ages 24-42, always treated us with utmost respect whether that was getting on/off the elevator or offering to help carry our bags.
- while they could be sometimes raucous in volume, it did not have the crudeness of language or actions I experienced in my first and second go-around in a dorm. Not that I did not find much of all of this amusing. Being loud at ETSC was more centered on joking and post football(soccer) activity.
--hours were later here. Egyptians love to sleep in and take long naps in the afternoon. Staying up well past midnight is normal. Our/my going to bed closer to 10 p.m. meant we had to shut the door into our bedroom to quiet down some of the singing, laughing and loud talking in the hallway
--nakedness is simply not permitted to be seen, not by Cinda, not by me. If we were invited into their room they would very likely even put a shirt on over their t-shirt. Covering up is part of the culture and was true in the dorm.
--we could eat all of our meals in the dining room on the first floor if we liked, save Sundays where things closed down. We ate breakfast in our apartment so as to (1) not have to change out of our pjs/shorts and (2) we could eat cereal and eggs and more western fare. Hard boiled eggs, fuul and creamy feta cheese was pretty much the b'fasts of the dorm.
Cinda ate more lunches, the biggest meal of the day, with the students. I was either traveling or eating at my desk: pbj sandwiches most frequently. She ate lots of CHICKEN!! The students eat A LOT! They pile their plates high with rice, cocheree and béchamel. I would more often join them for dinner around 8:30 p.m. I look forward to eating more around 6 and not having to sleep on this late meal.
--laundry meant we went up near the top level to the "faculty" washing machine. It would take 90 mins. to do a load. Then, after wiping the lines down of dust we could hang the wash out, minus under garments. In the warmer days, all of this would dry in an hour. In the winter, sometimes after the whole day we still had some damp clothes. Oh, the remainder of our clothes, especially Cinda's under garments, we hung on a small metal foldout laundry lined table off our balcony. No women's bras/panties visible, please!
--taking an elevator up six floors was never a problem except when it did not work. Carrying everything up to our apartment could be a real heart stopper. Oh well.
--when our a/c stopped, we needed light bulbs or tanks of gas for our stove, Gamal, director of the dorm, came to the rescue. We did get our linens, some towels and toilet paper most weeks.
--we worked around cleaning projects with wet floors, garbage cans out, folded beds, etc. to move around. The workers were always polite and must have wondered about my tiptoeing in my shoes on wet floors since they were in flip flops or bare feet.
Dorm life at Whitworth was usually fun; dorm life in the military was pretty rough and crude; dorm life in seminary was pretty quiet and staid; dorm life in Egypt was, overall, a wonderful part of our adventure of living in Egypt. It made us feel a lot closer to the students. I'm glad we did it. But not for forever.