|HC Students travel to Egypt during Spring break, 2009|
W hen you think of Spring Break, the words that might come to mind are “beaches,” “Florida,” and “excitement.” So where do college students from Florida go on Spring Break? This year at the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University, nine students, along with family members, professors, and community supporters, took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Egypt.
The Honors College group visited sites such as the east bank of the Nile, including the Temple of Karnak and the Temple of Luxor; Edfu, where they visited the city’s massive temple dedicated to the god Horus; Kom-Ombo where they explored the strange dual temple of Kom-Ombo, dedicated to the gods Sobek and Haroeris; Aswan where they saw the High Dam, the Unfinished Obelisk, and the Temple of Philae; Elephantine Island, the Botanical Garden, and Agha Khan; the west bank of the Nile, including the Colossi of Memnon, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir El-Bahari, and the Valley of Kings; and finally, they visited Cairo, where they experienced the Egyptian Museum, the Citadel of Saladin, the Alabaster mosque of Mohammed Ali, the three pyramids, the Great Sphinx, and the Old Bazaars of Khan El Khalili.
Blaine Pflaum, a third-year student with concentrations in economics and mathematics, says that he has always been interested in archeology and ancient civilizations, and this trip was a chance for him explore to these interests. “I thought the trip provided a good balance between information from the tour guides and just walking around enjoying the sites.” One of the unique parts of this trip was the group composition. There were 76 travelers in all, including Dr. Jeffrey Buller and Dr. Miguel Vázquez, Associate Professor of Foreign Languages. Blaine thought that the mixture was a positive thing, and enjoyed being with the adults on the trip. “Overall, it was a great group of people with interesting stories to tell.”
Alexa Billow, a second-year student interested in biological chemistry, says that she’s been “obsessed” with ancient Egyptian society since she was four years old, when her aunt gave her a book about Egypt. “My imagination utterly failed to supply the vibrance of the people I met and saw, how in some ways their differences make them seem even more alive than the people I know already. As you sail up the Nile, rugged red cliffs rise all around you, with the narrow green river between them. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and far more dramatic than I imagined.” Billow’s favorite part was reading the hieroglyphs on the monuments. “They’re not pretty magical pictures; they’re words, and I can read them. Well, some of them. It’s really amazing to see the buildings and the people who built them come alive through the messages they left.” “I learned a lot,” Billow says, “and I’m still digesting it, but I’m more eager than ever to see more of the world, learn more languages, experience other cultures…Egypt is EGYPT to me, this giant pinnacle in my mind. Seeing the various historical sites was a lifelong goal fulfilled.”
Byline: Tamara Howard