Wednesday, November 11, 2015

‘BRICS’: The Rising Global Powers

By Habiba Hany and Alaa El Dirini

(Cairo, Egypt)- The American University In Cairo’s (AUC) Department of Journalism & Mass Communication (JRMC) organized a talk with Firas Al Atraqchi, associate professor and associate chair of JRMC on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. ‘BRICS: An Alternative Narrative’ discussed a block of countries gaining economic and sociopolitical power on a multilateral level.
Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa or BRICS are being publicized as the new face of the developing world. In the talk by Al Atraqchi, he defined and explained the different elements of BRICS, stated their recent activities as an entity, and foreshadowed their future potential.The first summit was held in 2009 in Russia.  

“It is an economic grouping that has gone beyond its economic mandate and is becoming increasingly sociopolitical on the world stage,” said Al Atraqchi.  He also mentioned the changes in the world order and the functions of the already existing organizations such as the United Nations Security Council.
BRICS is considered a giant economic block. Al Atraqchi said, “BRICS has the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 16 trillion dollars.” This block has 4 trillion dollars in foreign reserves.
Jim O'Neill, Goldman Sachs's former chief economist and chairman, and the creator of the ‘BRICS’ acronym was ridiculed by the West and criticized for challenging the existing world order that is largely western. “O’Neill predicted that a lot of investment would move from Europe and North America into these countries,” elaborated Al Atraqchi.  
These post-colonial nations are now becoming an economic colonizer, explained Al Atraqchi. “Several countries are dealing in BRICS currencies, and this is a big thing,” Al Atraqchi went on to say. There is a shift from dominating western currencies.
Hussein Amin, JRMC professor, mentioned the media influence of the BRICS as a form of soft power. Regarding BRICS soft power, “We saw several new international and global media enterprises come to the floor,” commented Al Atraqchi.

In an interview with attendee Nermin Gerges, JRMC senior, said it was her first time hearing of
BRICS. “I am more motivated to go research more,” said Gerges.
BRICS have showed unprecedented power, regardless of media opposition, and plan to approach the U.S. and other global powers with more diplomacy. “Balanced governance and a more nuanced approach,” said Al Atraqchi.

Egyptian Screenwriter and Actress Address Drug Addiction

By Nouran Ibrahim, Monica Ayad and Christina Magdy

On Sunday, November 8, the Cairo International Model Arab League (CIMAL) hosted “The Message” in Moataz El Alfi Hall at The American University in Cairo (AUC). The event featured young actress Jamila Awad and screenwriter Mariam Naoum. The event revolved around the topic of addiction, an issue that was addressed in their hit Ramadan Series ‘Taht el Saytara’.
After anxiously waiting for an hour, the event commenced with a screening of the hit series ‘Taht el Saytara’s trailer for a hall packed with AUC  students. The guests, Naoum and Awad, made their entrance as the trailer came to an end. AUC CIMAL graduate advisor May Seoud then started the discussion with the two guests.

Addiction in Egypt is a phenomenon that is rapidly increasing at an alarming rate. According to the Health Committee in the Egyptian Assembly, 15% of drug addicts in Egypt are university students. Such a figure is what led AUC CIMAL member Omar Sadek to host and organize such an event at AUC.

Although such an issue has been addressed previously, what made ‘Taht el Saytara’ stand out was Naoum’s excessive research done through meeting and studying drug addicts and visiting rehab centers in Egypt. This led to a realistic depiction evident in ‘Taht el Saytara’.

In an interview we conducted with actress Jamila Awad, she stated that “it was challenging depicting the life of a drug addict, you have to feel what they’re going through without judging them.”
The guests also highlighted the different types of addiction. Screenwriter Mariam Naoum clarified that “when we talk about addiction it doesn’t necessarily mean that we mean drug addiction, the notion of addiction can be associated with people or even objects.”

Emphasizing the role of parents in guiding their children and making them aware of such a topic, Naoum stated that “it is the parents duties to become close friends with their children.”  

A Q&A session followed the discussion The questions asked included inquiries about certain scenes featured in the TV series along with comments AUC students had about  addiction leaving them with a reshaped perception regarding addiction. According to AUC student and attendee Zeina El Dakhakhni, “the event was informative and beneficial.” As the event came to an end, Naoum briefly mentioned that she will continue addressing controversial issues in her upcoming screenplays.  

Mentor-ship: The key to Success

By Farrah Hetata, Layla Ghalleb, and Mariam El Gammal

Malak Zaalouk, from the Middle East Institute for Higher Education, raised awareness of the importance of mentorship as a key to success in a workshop held by the Center of Learning and Teaching, CLT, in The American University in Cairo, AUC library on Nov. 9. The workshop was designed for AUC professors to help them improve their teaching skills.

Dr. Zaalouk defined mentorship as “reciprocal voluntary process” which “touches things like professional, emotional and personal relationships between a mentor and a mentee.” The purpose behind it is continuous professional development to provide support from an experienced and knowledgeable person.

According to CHRONUS, Mentoring and Talent Development Solutions; mentoring improves job placement rates, increases student retention rates, engages alumni and provides an enriching college experience.

During the workshop, Dr. Zaalouk explained that the ideal conditions for successful mentorship requires trust, commitment and respect.

The characteristics of the mentor are very important for successful relationship. Some of the main characteristics are honesty and the willingness to promote others.  

Professor Mohamed Dabbour, who teaches scientific thinking, viewed the workshop as “thought provoking, makes you reflect on different practices related to mentorship.” He adds that AUC could implement the mentorship program,  “With mentorship you are able to boost both teaching and research” which he believes that AUC is paying a lot of attention to.

When asked about how friends who work together should balance between being professional while not harming the friendship, Dr. Zaalouk said, “It is doable but it requires a very high level of maturity, it needs you to be able to differentiate which hat you are wearing at which time.”

Regarding the Egyptian people’s acceptance to the idea of mentorship, Dr. Zaalouk said, “We don’t have this culture as yet. But I have to say that I am so proud of the number of the Egyptian universities who actually managed to build bridges and partnership with surrounding schools through their visits and constant support of these schools.”

For future progress, the institute is planning to widen its horizon, and apply the mentorship program in other universities in Egypt, aside from AUC.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Cairo Tattoo Convention

By Samia El Khodary and Sara Elaraby

Egypt witnessed its second tattoo convention over the weekend at The Tipsy Teapot in Ma’adi. The event, held on November 6-7, from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m., welcomed over 400 attendees to its venue for the sharing of body art.

According to the official Cairo Tattoo Convention website, the convention was created in conjunction with the Nowhereland Tattoo Project , where founder Orne Gil set out to “to bring the art of tattoo (to) countries – mainly in the Middle East – where it has been limited”. To bring like-minded individuals together, Gil partnered with fellow artist and photojournalist Ines Della Valle to bring her vision to life.

Valle, who had witnessed and documented the January 25th Revolution, and Gil reached out to artists, both local and foreign, to bring visibility to the underground art form. As a result, 20 local and international artists, composed of tattooers, piercers, and temporary body painters, gathered to provide a site for body art culture: artists were able to display their personal previous works, and worked on new tattoos for people that attended the convention.

The taboo of tattoos has kept the art mostly in the shadows, but that has recently started to change. According to Gil, the “tattoo culture (started) to move since more or less 3 years…(while) there were some artists that were working already, (it) was more exclusive…I think Cairo is ready for this.”

According to Valle, Egypt has been witnessing the rise of the tattoo art form, with about 70% of those who attended being local Egyptians, and welcoming over 12 more artists to the convention compared to the previous year.

One tattoo regular and convention attendee, Ahmed Talaat, was “shocked by the number of tattoo designers” and people at the event, and believes that Egypt should focus on more pressing issues rather than “being strict about a design… on my own skin”.  

Talaat’s belief is slowly becoming the norm in the city. With the slow change in the taboo of tattoo, there is hope to embrace modern ideals, accept all art forms, and provide venues for self expression to everyone.

Monday, November 9, 2015

AUC's Employment Fair: A Glimpse into the Business World

By Nehal Sharaf, Nadine Ramadan and Daniella Banna

The Fall 2015 Employment Fair, organized by the Career Advising and Placement Services office (CAPS) took place at American University in Cairo on Nov. 7, 2015 to provide students and alumni various career opportunities.
There were 76 organizations present at the Fair. According to Malak Saleh, one of the event’s organizers, the CAPS office sends out invitations to various companies in which they respond to pay and partake in the Fair. Even though the Employment Fair changes every year, there are companies that are usually participating at the Fair. Maha El Moslemany, manager of Recruitment and Employer Relations stated “the recurring companies present at the Fair are a reflection of what’s in the job market.”
During the Fair, students approach companies, introduce themselves regarding their majors, their area of interest and share their CV’s with companies. Even though students and alumni came ready with their printed CV’s, they were not accepted by many of the companies such as Coca Cola, Mobinil, Procter and Gamble and the American Embassy.  These companies asked for CV’s to be submitted online.
After speaking with Mobinil and Unilever about what characteristics they look for when hiring employees, Mobinil’s Human Resources supervisor, Nancy Wahba stated that they look for someone who is friendly and dynamic. Whereas, Karim Kandil, the Manufacturing Excellence manager for Unilever Factories stated “they look for candidates with soft skills, such as leadership and team building and people with technical skills.”
A couple of attendees were unsatisfied due to the Employment Fair lacking in variety of companies, such as NGO’s. Lydia Matta who minored in Community Development and Organizing, was hoping to find an opportunity available at the Fair regarding this field, however, she expressed to us how disappointed she was with the Fair’s lack of choices in NGO’s. Attendees with a business background expressed the most satisfaction due to numerous opportunities provided by the present companies.
The Employment Fair has been going on since 1986, back then it was considered one of the first types of career fairs in the Middle East. There are two Employment Fairs a year, one in Fall and one in Spring. Each year there are different companies, however, there are several recurring companies that choose to be present at the Fair.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Philosophy Professor, Dr. Ernest Wolf-Gazo, Gives a Lecture about Monotheism

By Kenzi Bahgat, Farida ElSersawi, and Lobna El Shirbiny

(Cairo, Egypt) On Wednesday, November 4th, the Philosophy Professor, Dr. Ernest Wolf-Gazo, hosted a lecture on "Monotheism" where the lecture took place at The American University of Cairo.

The lecture focused on Max Weber and the world historical significance of ancient Egyptian monotheism. It also discussed how this affects individuals’ actions today.

Dr. Gazo has been a Philosophy professor at AUC for twenty-four years. He is well-known for his volume on, A.N.Whitehead -- Einfuehrung in seine Kosmologie, which is a basic text at the German Universities.

The event was co-organized by the Office of Student Development (OSD) and the Philosophy Club. The Philosophy Club is known for organising the series of lectures addressing various philosophical topics since 1992.

Before the speech, the audience, who were about 50 people, had to fill a signup sheet with their information based on the registration. The Executive Assistant to Chair, Aya Morsi, and the Secretary, Amanda Naguib, were responsible for organizing the events and distributing giveaways, which were zipper bags with the logo of the Philosophy Department.

Monotheism focuses on one principle, which is that there is one deity that does everything. This goes back to Akhenaten, the pharaoh who established monotheism by making Aten, the Sun God, the only God.

Dr. Gazo started off by explaining how monotheism could be understood within the context of ancient history. The speaker mentioned that one principle affects our actions.

Monotheism is "the emergence of formal rationality," he said. This doesn't mean that polytheism is irrational. When asked about this, he explained how in ancient history, there was a division of labor among the Gods whether it was in Egypt, Greece, or any other country.
"They’re not irrational, they have a practical intelligence," he explained.

Throughout his lecture, Dr. Gazo was focusing on how religion affects individuals’ actions rather than arguing about whether religion makes sense or not.
"We need it today more than ever before," he said.

"It was a little bit complicated, but overall useful. I have enjoyed it to an extent, but it was so hard for me to understand and comprehend completely," said Ahmed El Semary, a Mechanical Engineering student at AUC.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Horror Fiction Helps Us Psychologically, Says Bestselling Egyptian Author

By Youssef Shaalan, Yehia Shaalan and Mahmoud Abdel Latif

NEW CAIRO- Horror in novels enables people to cope with their problems, said prominent Egyptian author Ahmed Khaled Towfik during a public lecture at the American University in Cairo (AUC) on Wednesday.

The lecture, hosted by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies of AUC, was held in the Bassily Auditorium of the university’s New Cairo campus from 1-2 p.m. The auditorium was filled with professors as well as students.

The author of the bestselling Arabic novel “Utopia” talked about the rewarding nature of writing for the Egyptian youth and how issues in the country influenced him to write in the horror genre.  Writing for the young generation allowed him to use supernatural elements, like zombies and vampires, in tackling psychological issues. He believes that our problems start to become much less terrifying in comparison to the horrific things we read about in horror stories.

“Horror writing has always been a safety valve that helps people recover from their inner fears and phobias,” said Towfik. “People like stories about zombies; when you see the living dead, you forget your fears.”

“I think horror could help us forget about our problems, but only when we’re reading the story,” said Farah Lotfy, a junior psychology major at AUC. “After we finish the story and return to reality, nothing has changed. We’re back to our problems again.”

A big fan of horror novels, Towfik explained how he started his career of writing fiction, “I said to myself, ‘if you want more horror, write it’.”

His exploration of the horror genre led him to create a series of literary works named “Fantasia”. After years of writing horror, Towfik found that writing about these supernatural elements were not enough to help him face his own fears.

“I had to stop writing about ghosts, werewolves and vampires, and start talking about something more scarier: the future of Egypt,” he said. “That’s how ‘Utopia’, a great dystopia, came to life.”

“Utopia,” released in Arabic in 2009, dealt with social and political issues in Egypt, issues that led to the 25th of January revolution. Predicting a chaotic revolution in his novel, Towfik was surprised by how peaceful and well organized the 2011 revolution was.

Towfik advised other writers by saying that nobody is perfect and that success in writing takes a lot of time and effort. Open to criticism, Towfik said that it’s the people who offer him feedback, whether negative or positive, that make him feel alive.  

Since the beginning of the Fall Semester of 2015, “Utopia” is the focus of the AUC Common Reading Program. A motion picture based on “Utopia” is currently in the pre-production stage.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Egyptian TV presenter, Ramy Radwan: I’ll quit if I’m ever forced to give up my principles!

By Farah Zalat and Hussein Shaker

(Cairo, Egypt) - Ramy Radwan, TV presenter of El Beit Beitak and alumnus of The American University in Cairo (AUC), spoke at AUC about the challenges facing young media professionals on Monday, November 2, 2015.

Radwan was the guest speaker and around 50 people attended, ranging from current AUC students and faculty to AUC alumni. It was planned by The AUC Alumni Association, which strives to connect the AUC alumni with one another as well as with the university.

After a brief introduction of Radwan by Dr. Naila Hamdy, associate professor and chair of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department (JRMC), he began his speech by clarifying how he was choosing to speak in Arabic because his respect for his native language has significantly grown lately. He jokingly, yet informatively, mentioned some of the challenges he has faced in the field.

He reassured the audience by using a personal example that making a mistake will not be as severe if you take the right measures to correct it and apologize. He also talked about how hard it is now to stay grounded ethically, stating how this problem has become increasingly evident in the Egyptian media.

In 2015, The Guardian published an article focusing on the increasing number of Egyptian media professionals who are becoming “mouthpieces for the government.” Which further proves Radwan’s point about the ethics in Egyptian media.

Rawan Lasheen, a JRMC graduate who attended the event; stated, “The government restrictions they put on the media. To say this and say that, don’t say this and don’t say that,” is the biggest problem she is personally facing in the field.

During the interview with Radwan after the event, he advised, “If you stick to your own beliefs, you will always gain more than just doing like a chameleon” to further emphasize the importance of principles in media.

Radwan is on El Beit Beitak on TEN TV at 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Tune in to watch him apply his personal ethics as a TV presenter.