A word from our director
Dear friends of the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo,
In these days leading up to Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, it is time for an update of our activities over the past months.
Due to the pandemic situation, we were forced to offer our BA and MA autumn semester to our students from the Netherlands and Flanders online. Although we have been teaching online since end of March, when we quickly had to switch from physical teaching here in Cairo, and for which we have received very positive feedback from our students, this situation is not ideal. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction in the classroom. We regret that we could not receive our students for an exciting semester in Cairo, especially so for our students, many of whom had looked forward to an opportunity to discover the city and other places in Egypt, while taking a significant step forward in mastering spoken and written Arabic.
Almost as a matter of paradox, we have been able to expand our private (one-on-one) teaching activities, both online as well as physical teaching at our institute. I am happy to conclude that our reputation as an excellent teaching institution is spreading (especially mouth-to-mouth) and I foresee that this development will continue into the coming years as well. We are certainly open to further expand in this field. Should you be interested in private lessons, please send us questions you might have to firstname.lastname@example.org .
We hope to move back to ‘normal’ after the pandemic situation has been resolved. We are now hoping that after vaccinations we might go back to normal over the summer, so that we shall be able to again offer our teaching semesters in situ…
For our program ‘Egyptology in the Field’ for our Egyptology students, which we normally organize in January and February, we had anticipated this ‘grand tour’ to take place in Europe with visits to museums in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, instead of various sites and museums in Egypt. It is very unfortunate that we have to cancel this European alternative due to the very worrying pandemic situation in Europe as well. All our teaching will still have to be online…
In the meantime, we have over the past months also submitted requests for future archaeological missions, albeit to varying degrees of success. This is not due to the quality of the requests submitted, but in addition to the often three (!) different security organizations, the Permanent Committee (“al-lagna ad-daa’ima”) of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities may have its moments of unpredictability as well.
After the rainstorm that hit Cairo mid-March, we took the opportunity to again have some repair work (mostly repaint) done, and we had a wider rainwater drain put in place. Over the months during the summer and autumn that we were closed (or only partially open), we had some paintwork inside the building done as well. The institute is again in optimal condition to receive its students and other guests.
At the time of writing this newsletter, we are open two days a week: Mondays and Wednesdays. We also allow a maximum of five visitors to our library, who have to comply with our rules: measure temperature, sanitize hands, wear face masks when moving through the library floor, maintain at least 1.5 meter distance to personnel and other visitors, etc. I am pleased to see that this is all going very well.
In the course of this year we managed to secure two long-term positions: one (half-time) for our assistant director for Archaeology and Egyptology, dr. Marleen De Meyer, and one (full-time) for our assistant director for Arabic and Islam studies, dr. Ifdal Elsaket. The former position is financed by Leiden University, the latter is financed by F.W.O. (the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research).
We look forward to resuming our ‘normal’ activities, like organizing our weekly Thursday lectures and film screenings on Sunday evenings. Please follow our Facebook page to keep abreast of our upcoming activities (NVIC – Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo).
I conclude this short update with my best wishes to all for the festive season, my hope that we will all enter the new year in good health and that we shall be able to leave these difficult times behind us.
Dr. Rudolf de Jong
Director of the NVIC