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Date: Mon, 27 Aug 1956 21:50:46 +0000
From: Jon Lea & Bob Hetzel <jonfbobh@internetegypt.com>
Subject: Egypt Calling!

Friends at Maricopa Central,

I thought you would like a fall update on activities in Egypt from your roving international internet correspondent. Life is exciting and good in Egypt! I continue to learn something new everyday....about Egypt, myself or the wonderful world of techonology.

A quick update on the "two steps forward, one step backward" progress on technology in developing countries. I continue to be mystified as to when and if my internet server will work. After having several technicians to the house, they decided that it was the telephone company's problem. In Egypt, no one wants to take responsibility for a problem....so currently several of the phone lines in our community are replaced without notice or warning. Sometimes I can connect and sometimes not. My sense is that, since this is now year two of Egypt's public internet access, that the lines and servers are over-extended. Someone told me that the communication system here is similar to the U.S. in the 1950's. The good news is that someone is always working on the problems. Progress is being made and slowly, slowly the support technology is being upgraded. It is exciting to be in on the ground floor of the "future." So I compose messages, save them and hope and pray for the right moment to send. Egypt is the best lesson in letting go and just letting things happen.....not always good when you have deadlines but a more peacefilled way to live.

We had a quirky bureacratic thing happen to our two distance learning universities. Over night they were closed down by the Ministry of Education. Because there is so much competition, now that higher education has been privatized and because of the government's distrust of the quality of distance learning programs, the Ministry announced that these programs were not accredited and closed the programs in the middle of the semester (effecting some 1500 students). Each program was sponsored by an accredited American University. So I guess there is still a little groundwork to be done about the quality of distance learning and the advantages to this mode of education. I am sure these attitudes will change because of all the emphasis on opening up the economy and privitization.

I have had the opportunity to visit Muscat, Oman through my job as advising coordinator for the Middle East & North Africa. Since Oman is at the tip of the Arabian penninsula and is not one of the huge oil producers (Saudi, Kuwait and UAE hold those honors), few people know much about this secret paradise. In the last twenty-five years, the Sultan of Qaboos (after over-throwing his father because he was not sharing the oil profits with his people), has created a modern country that respects the culture and the environment. He has built up the infrastructure of schools, hospitals and highways, while preserving the beautiful coastline and desert landscapes. I had the good fortune to meet a visionary Omani educator, who just opened the first two-year American education institution in Oman. He got his PhD. in Missouri and had the dream of creating a two-year articulated program with his alma mater in the U.S. He will have his first graduating class next year and their associate degree will transfer directly to the University of Missouri. It was really fun to hear him talk about his dream come true for educating the Omani people. It is amazing the interest in American higher education in the international community.

This month I will be travelling to Saudi Arabia, if all of my paperwork is authorized. I think it will be "interesting" being a woman travelling alone on business to Riyadh and Jeddah. I am not sure if I will have to wear the black "chador" covering my clothes during my visit or not. I have learned so much about the Muslim faith and its gender rules.....it would make a very interesting discussion upon my return to the U.S.

I will be coming home from December 5 - 29. I am currently enrolled in a Myers-Briggs training in San Diego from December 10-13. Besides family, the one thing I miss most are the wonderful training and learning opportunities in the U.S. I plan to make a quick trip to the Phoenix area, maybe we can drink cappuccinos, eat bagels and cream cheese and talk about Quick Cams, laser copiers and photo scanners. I can bring plenty of pictures to bore and captivate you. ( Although they have great Turkish coffee here, I am hooked on the coffee house atmosphere).

I am sure you all are in the full swing of learning and teaching. I look forward to hearing from you.

Ma Salaama,

Jon Lea

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