The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

September 29, 2012

Woman experiences foreign culture as an educator in Egypt


PALESTINE — Safety Concerns

After the recent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Thomason said she makes sure to keep her eyes open for any anti-American situations.

“There have been absolutely no moments where I felt my safety was at risk,” she explained. “But we live in an area of Cairo called Ma’adi where most of the expats live, so the Egyptian residents are used to seeing Westerners out and about.”

The recent Mideast protests were stirred by a film made in the U.S. that denounces Islam’s holiest figure.

“There have only been a couple of times when I was nervous about my safety and that was in the first week or so and only when we were out with some of the other new expat teachers at night,” she continued. “There was also a couple of moments in taxis that made me uncomfortable.”

Egyptians, according to Thomason, are so willing to help you and look out for you.

“There is always someone around that wants to help you out. And the Islamic culture and religion have basic tenets that are strongly ingrained in the general population, so you can be guaranteed that even if someone is acting in a way that is forbidden or frowned upon, there are always others around that will subtly remind them that their behavior is not appropriate.”

One of the biggest obstacles Thomason has faced so far is her adjustment to the staring and general behavior of some of the men towards her.

“There is a definite stereotype of the blonde American female that is not exactly positive in this culture. Of course, if you watch American cable, it’s not a surprise that they have that image,” she explained.

Thomason said she can deal with the comments and the stares, but some of the behavior has a negative vibe. With time, however, she believes this will work itself out.

“As I have gotten to know some of the people in our little neighborhood, and they see we’re living here and not just tourists, a lot of that has decreased.”

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