A few remarks on the latest news at NVIC from director Dr Rudolf de Jong
Dear friends of the NVIC,
Last academic year 2015-16 at our institute ended with saying farewell to Dr Stijn Aerts, who had been our Assistant-Director for Arabic and Islam Studies for a year. Unforeseen circumstances led to his decision to return to Belgium. We shall miss his valuable contributions, dry sense of humour, and wish him all the best for the future.
In July we had a round of interviews in Brussels to select a new Assistant-Director to take Stijn’s place (the position is funded by F.W.O., Research Fund Flanders). I am very pleased to announce that Dr Ifdal Elsaket (PhD, University of Sydney) will be our new Assistant-Director as from 1 October this year. Ifdal worked as a guest researcher at our institute before, and we very much look forward to her joining our team.
At the end of August we started our regular MA-semester again for students from our contributing universities of Ghent and Leuven in Flanders (and this year also one student from the University of Amsterdam).
The new semester comes after a successful intensive course in spoken Egyptian Arabic taught at our institute during the first 4 weeks of August. We plan to organise a similar course in the summer of 2017.
During the autumn semester we shall also teach a beginner’s course in Egyptian Arabic, mainly intended for foreigners, who are ‘absolute beginners’ and who would like to see their language proficiency to finally take off. This course will be taught in the early evening. Specifics are to be found here.
In the first months of 2017 we hope to again receive a group of students of Egyptology/Archaeology, who will be doing a half semester in Egypt with site visits throughout the country led by our Assistant Director Dr Marleen De Meyer. Apart from students from our own universities in Leiden and Leuven, this programme is now also open to students of other (foreign) universities. As an introduction to this half semester, we aim to teach a special course in Egyptian Arabic specifically intended for Egyptologists and archaeologists who (hope to) do fieldwork. The dates of this course are to be announced soon (keep an eye on our Facebook page and on this website).
On 27 November our institute, with the generous support of the Netherlands Embassy in Cairo, will organise its yearly Cleveringa-lecture. A seminar/conference during the day is organised in cooperation with professor Dr Petra Sijpesteijn of Leiden University. The topic of the seminar is "Informal requests for support and mediation (on paper and/or papyrus) in Egypt (from Roman times until the Ottoman era)". We have invited a number of excellent scholars from Egypt and abroad to contribute and most have promised to present a paper on this topic. We look forward to an interesting day! The programme of the day will be announced on this website in due course. The Cleveringa-lecture itself will this year be read by professor Sijpesteijn.
In October, we shall also restart our series of Thursday lectures (start at 6.00 pm sharp), as well as our series of film screenings on Sundays (start at 7.30 pm). Please follow us on our webpage, in newsletters such as this one, and Facebook page (see link above) for announcements of these events.
A great challenge for the next year, as from January, will be to implement a multi-disciplinary programme we have developed over the past times: teaching BA students from the Netherlands and Flanders in Liberal Arts, Social Studies, International Studies (etc.) with a focus on the world of the Middle East and more specifically Egypt. In this course we will have less emphasis on language acquisition (although half of the time will still be spent on this), but will devote more time on regional culture, history, politics, economics, arts, etc. Parallel to this course we will also teach our regular BA semester to students of Arabic and Islam. We very much look forward to receiving all these students for their semesters abroad at NVIC.
With all the developments in the region over the past years and the negative reports in the press, we decided to conduct a survey on feelings of personal safety of students, who spent semesters at our institute in Cairo. Notwithstanding these often negative reports on the current situation in Egypt, about which we read in Dutch, Belgian and other western news media, it turned out that over the past 5 years (i.e. since the 2011 revolution), students marked their feelings of safety while studying in Cairo with an average of 7.2 on a scale of 0 (worst) to 10 (best). The idea for the survey came from our intern/trainee Marlijn Beek, who also conducted the survey and reported on her findings in her MA-thesis. We are grateful for her contribution. We feel that the average outcome of the survey aptly illustrates our own experiences in Cairo. Certainly, and unfortunately so, after the recent horrible events in Europe during the summer, it has become clear that 100% guarantees for safety - if these were ever realistic - are definitely a thing of the past anywhere in today’s world.
Let me conclude by wishing you all a peaceful, excellent and productive academic year. We look forward to seeing you at the events we have planned!
Dr Rudolf de Jong
Director of the NVIC