April 2, 2009
“I feel like new born,” said field school graduate Amr Zakaria Mohammed when asked how he felt at the end of the AERA/ARCE Giza Field School. Graduation day was the culmination of eight weeks of very, very long days and hard work.
The graduates, all Egyptian antiquities inspectors, have been out in the cold and heat of Giza, on their hands and knees in the dirt, patiently scraping, drawing, surveying, and recording. They’ve spent afternoons and evenings six days a week in lectures, late-night study, and taking exams.
Sunday they head back to work all across Egypt. Thursday, the SCA and Dr. Zahi Hawass sent them home with congratulations and encouragement for the future.
Mark Lehner began the ceremonies with an acknowledgment of the hard work of the students, their instructors, and especially Joint Field Directors Mohsen Kamel and Ana Tavares. Without them there would be no field school.
He also gratefully acknowledged the partnership of the American Research Center in Egypt and introduced SCA Project Director, Dr. Janice Kamrin. Janice told us ARCE Director Gerry Scott regretted he could not join the students at graduation, since he believes that training is an essential part of ARCE’s mission in Egypt.
Janice then introduced Secretary General Dr. Zahi Hawass. Dr. Hawass apologized for being late, as he had been before the Egyptian parliament this morning discussing stolen antiquities.
“Training is essential for everything. Keep learning, study abroad, and serve your country,” Dr. Hawass told the graduates.
He enumerated the five major points of focus for the SCA:
- Site management
- Protection of monuments
- Egyptians’ awareness of their heritage
- Return of stolen artifacts
“You are very important in Egyptian society, and the government recognizes this.”
After Dr. Hawass’ remarks, Mark brought Mohsen Kamel and Ana Tavares to the front to once again acknowledge their enormous contribution to the success of the school. The graduates gave them a standing ovation.
Mohsen thanked the Egyptian instructors for bridging the language gap, and for going above and beyond the call of duty.
Ana told the students, “The future of the Field School rests on you. This is not just a present to you. We expect you to go out and do good work.”
The season is nearly over but there are more posts to come.
Photos: Christine Clifton-Thornton