Egypt is an ancient world civilianization, which can be realized in the Great Pyramids, Mummies and the Nile River. I was not thinking of visiting Egypt until two years ago . One day I received an email from a person referred to me by Priya and Mingma. I remember Mingma as her teacher, but not Priya. I used to be a language tester with US peace corps a few year ago, where I met Mingma . So Mingma Tamang, a friend of Priya, talked to me about a potential partnership between Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal and The American University in Cairo, Egypt .
I was connected to Priya during my visit to the training site of American Peace Corps in Sindhupalchok District headquarter and while giving Nepali language test to her Mock LPT Language Proficiency Test . At the time of the interview, I remember that she asked me one question, “have you been to Cairo and seen the Pyramids. ” I said no . She might not remember or remember that time but she is an Egyptian American and looks like Nepali a little bit of light skin color sharp nose; now I remember. She referred me to one of her friends at AUC, Lamish A. Hamdy, in order to start cross-cultural exchange program. I had not remembered Priya -how can I remember her for that half an hour meeting as a language tester .
Lamish and I started emailing each other and on a continuous conversation about the Cross-cutlural program. It took us two years to complete the phase one of the program -- we would be visiting from March 9th 2017, to March 19th. Phase two would be AUC visiting Nepal from April 8th to April 17th 2017 . When I asked Lamish A. Hamdy about how we got connected and who was the connector between us, she said there is another Reslife team member Lamis Morsy, who was with your team in Alexandria –Meditarranian sea- her friend Priya recommended that we should talk to you and discuss the possiblity of beginning exchange program between Nepal, country of Buddha and Mount Everest and the American University in Cairo, Egypt, the country of the Pyramids. So I did not hesitate to email you immediately.
The idea to travel and visit Egypt was wonderful, but I know that the flight ticket is very expensive for Nepalese students and it might hold them back from participating in such programs. I printed out the email I received from that person and headed to my Vice Chancellor at University, Tirth Raj Khaniya. The Vice Chancellor informed me that the university budget cannot support the cross- cultural exchange program and that the university has little money to support only visits to Historical , Natural or archeological places in Nepal . He also informed me that some of our Nepalese students visit India by raising some extra funds from themselves. He suggested that I try to coordinate -if possible- getting funds or to look for students who might be ready to pay for their flight tickets.
It was beyond my imagination and almost impossible. But then I thought I had completed my South Asian Studies tour in 1984-85 with little money to visit India, Pakistan and Bangladesh from December 28th to Feb 23rd. Back then it was enough to manage with 125000 Rupees for all lodging and meals as well as all transportation at that time; when one Dollar was 12 Rupees. So I thought to myself now I am a professor, I should better give it a try any way.
I started to talk to my colleagues about visiting Egypt and visiting the Pyramids. Everybody got really excited and ready. However, after gathering information about the flight ticket they all rejected the idea. I even talked to some of Kathmandu University (KU) Faculty and Dr. Uddhab Pyakurel was ready to start this partnership, but the academic calendar of the two Universities is different. Usually when there is full a swing of classes and preparation in KU, it is hard for students to join in. There was something else that I needed to take into consideration before agreeing to this partnership. It was a major issue to resolve with Dr. Uddhab. While visiting each other Universities, both sides must be ready to support accommodation, transopration, visits and tours and meals for the visiting delegates of each country. Taking this kind of responsibility made no one interested in starting this program . But I did not give up. The idea to visit one of the most reputable universities in Egypt and the Pyramids one day was very exciting.
In less than a month I just talked with Loknath Dulal about it again. He suggested that we should talk to private College SWC Basundhara to participate in this parnership. We took my Motorbike and visited Ganesh (Tika Ram ) Mahara and Unit chief Sarita Shakya, my former student, at that SWC chair International relation . I (as a professor) and Sarita (my former student) had not seen each other for at least 14 to 15 years. SWC became very happy with this proposal. Ganesh and Sarita shared with their students about the Cross-cultural Program and many showed interest and were ready to join in. With the information about the financial cost and flight tickets, all of them shrugged back again. This was becoming almost impossible. Due time was March 9 for departure. Until two days before departure, we were not sure whether we would do it or not.
After lots of questioning and confusion, we finally made it possible to visit Egypt and AUC . Not only did we Celebrate Happy Holi with AUC students, but they also enjoyed playing with color and dancing with Nepali songs with our team; it was the first time for AUC students to know what Holi festival is all about. We visited many places Alexandria, The Pyramids, Fayoum and so on.
Rahul Sankrityayan said, "yathato ghumkkad jiggyasaa" (I like to travel as well). Finally, we did it .
Jahaa ichchha uhaa upaae.
(Dhan Prasad Pandit is Professor, Political Science Tribhuvan University , PK. Campus, Kathmandu Nepal. He was in AUC-SWSC cross-cultural exchange program in Egypt with Ganesh Mahara, Rakhi Shanh, Bishal Neupane, Pabita, Sandesh , Kashish, Asish, Shiva, Lamis, Shahdan, Sara Yousef. Naurhan -Pyramid visit program accompanied Lacal students from AUC.)