World of learning: Michelle Thompson
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Class of 2010
- Academic concentration: Near Eastern studies; certificate in African American studies
- Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Summer location: Cairo, Egypt
- Activity: internship with the Supreme Council of Antiquities; volunteer at the Egyptian Museum
- Length of stay: nine and a half weeks
- Internship secured through the International Internship Program (IIP)
- Previous international experience as a Princeton student: summer trip to Tanzania with the Office of Religious Life
Writing from Egypt
On the personal front, I am dedicated to fostering a deeper sense of my abilities and self-sufficiency. To be abroad for a substantial length of time requires a strong character, and I aim to expand my horizons, try new things and make this city my home. On the professional level, I'm exploring another avenue of applying my Near Eastern studies education and interest in cultural heritage. I also hope this trip will give me better insight as to whether a career abroad is a good fit for me.
Current projects include researching ongoing and new stolen antiquities cases, labeling and identifying slides of antiquities in the Supreme Council of Antiquities database, and composing detailed descriptions for the council's website.
As a Near Eastern studies major, I am engrossed in the political, economic, linguistic and cultural aspects of North Africa and the Middle East. At present, my studies have not encompassed Egyptology or archaeology, yet I've been able to apply my Arabic language skills and to use my knowledge of Egyptian political and social history to better understand the often complicated interactions created in the exchange, return and illegal movement of antiquities.
Living Egyptian culture has been a surprise every step of the way. From the way people dodge traffic on major highways to the affection Egyptians show to struggling foreigners, everyday life is a bit of an adventure.
I live in an apartment with two other Princeton students interning through IIP. Renting an apartment is a huge responsibility, especially when signing contracts and dealing with a landlord in a language other than your mother tongue. My neighborhood is quite convenient, with multiple pharmacies, groceries, juice shops, bakeries and food shops around the corner. I'm also lucky to have neighbors who care about my well-being and make me feel welcome.
Later this summer, I will travel with Princeton's Office of Religious Life to Venezuela and Bolivia [similar to the Tanzania trip] to learn about religious and cultural life and the roles of nongovernmental organizations there.