Plymouth High teacher loves visit to Egypt

Plymouth High School Spanish teacher Laura Koebel recently spent a week in Egypt. — Submitted photo Plymouth High School Spanish teacher Laura Koebel recently spent a week in Egypt. — Submitted photo Plymouth High School Spanish teacher Laura Koebel recently spent a week in Egypt with the teachers of Critical Languages Program.

Koebel went to Egypt after being invited by American Councils for International Education to be on the interview panel for the next group of Arabic teachers through the program.

One of the first beneficiaries of the program, PHS hosted Arabic teachers in 2010-11 and 2011- 12. Ez Eldin, who started the PHS Arabic class in 2010, still Skypes with PHS Arabic students twice a week. Salah Ibrahim, here the following year, still is in contact as well. The program, funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by American Councils, aims to increase the number of Americans teaching and studying Arabic (and Mandarin Chinese).

“These connections with our Egyptian friends have enriched the lives of many current and former PHS students,” said Koebel, noting that is the goal of the program.

Koebel, who had never been to Egypt before, stayed in a hotel on the Nile in Cairo from March 11 to 17. She went to Giza, climbed in the Great Pyramid, rode a camel, saw the Sphinx, toured the exquisite hanging churches in Coptic center and went to the Khan el-Khalili market.

She loved “absolutely everything” about the trip. “You are immersed in mind-blowing history, from touching granite chiseled in 2500 BC of the oldest wonder of the Ancient World to walking through Abu Serga, the 4th century church built on the site where Jesus, Mary and Joseph stayed while in Egypt.”

Koebel also loved the daily culture: “the markets, tea houses, traffic, people in the street, the food!”

“I felt extremely safe at all times,” she said. “We were treated respectfully and as friends.”

She spent a wonderful afternoon in the market with former AFS student Anne Aziz of Egypt. “It was great to see her and helpful to have a knowledgeable guide in the marketplace,” Koebel said. “Now I can better imagine her life there and will always have a connection to return to.”

Anne’s mother has a travel agency and has arranged many tours for Americans. “I know people from Plymouth would be very welcome and shown a special time,” Koebel said. “Egypt is beyond your expectations. People are warm and friendly, helpful and kind. Egyptian people love to joke around, and making friends was easy.”

She looks forward to returning to Egypt. “I want to be able to share more experiences with my students,” she said. “I want to show a positive side of this part of the world. Sometimes only seeing with one’s own eyes do you develop that perspective. But I hope to start a foundation for building that bridge to peace through mutual understanding and personal connections.”

Most recent cover pages:

Copyright 2009-2018 The Plymouth Review, All Rights Reserved

Contact Information

113 E. Mill St., Plymouth WI 53073
Local: 920-893-6411 Toll Free: 1-877-467-6591
Fax: 920-893-5505