Archive for February, 2012

Profiles in Culture: Egypt

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Learn more about customs and cultures all over the world, from your fellow members of PTPI.

We believe that greater understanding between individuals and peoples, worldwide, reveals universal values and aspirations. We believe that if people can better understand other cultures, they are more tolerant and accepting of differences.

Name: PTPI’s Cairo, Egypt (Nile of Peace) Student Chapter – the following responses were compiled by members of the chapter

Country of Residence: Egypt

1. Describe your favorite cultural tradition:

Well my favorite is belly dancing! Belly dancing is a well-known tradition that most Egyptian girls can do perfectly. Our country is known for belly dancers and felouka (feluccas) that always attract tourists all around the world. They travel thousands of miles especially to see those magnificent shows.

2. In your opinion, what is the most significant issue facing your country in the present day?

Honestly, my country has had so many problems recently (the revolution and its consequences). Despite that, companies in Egypt (like Coca Cola, Pepsi, Vodafone and others) are trying so hard to make a great difference in Egypt, a better one, by spending money on charity, putting smiles on people’s faces, helping children with physical problems, and other beautiful and peaceful things that make the world a better place. Cooperation is being created every day and this will really change Egypt and make it one of the most fascinating countries ever!

3. What do you consider to be the most important holiday in your country and how is it celebrated?

Egypt has different holidays for each sector of the nation but what makes each holiday special is that everyone enjoys it. I guess the most important one is Eid El-Fetr, when Muslims break their fast after the holy month of Ramadan. It is celebrated with prayer and then several visits to family members and friends.

4. Which part of your country’s history do you find most interesting?

Egypt’s history throughout all the ages is more than interesting. There is historical appeal in all of the eras: Pharaonic, Greek, Byzantine, Islamic and Christian. What I find most interesting is the Pharaonic part, which inspired the whole world and led to discoveries in many fields that we have been unable to understand until now. This part of Egypt’s history has been amazing the world for so long and will amaze the world for ages to come.

5. What languages are spoken in the country you live in? How many of those languages do you speak and which ones?

The languages are Arabic, English, and French. I can speak Arabic and English.

6. What is the customary form of greeting in your country?

Kissing on the cheek from two to four times when greeting the same gender, accompanied with a hand shake or hug. If greeting someone of a different gender it is just a hand shake.

7. What is the most popular sport in your country?

Football (soccer).

8What is your favorite traditional meal and how do you make it?

The most traditional meal is beans…easy to cook and very delicious. People cook beans in many different ways but the most common is to boil them and serve them with bread.

9. Where in the world would you most like to visit?


10. What is your favorite word? What is your least favorite word? If those words are not in English, what do they mean?

My favorite word is love and my least favorite is hatred.

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PTPI Student Chapter Initiatives: Warming Hearts in Winter and Beyond

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Hundreds of hats, gloves, and scarves collected by members of PTPI’s Brooklyn, New York (LMGHS) Student Chapter brought warmth to a cold holiday season for people without homes or living near or below the poverty level. Working with The River Fund, a non-profit that provides resources for homeless and underprivileged in the Coney Island area, chapter members distributed the items  and also handed out the nearly 300 bags of holiday treats they had put together. The chapter plans to continue supporting fellow members of their community. Chapter President Stefanie Allman tells us why and how:

1. What motivated you to choose this community service project?

Our chapter has always worked to help our local and global communities but we were consistently frustrated that we never saw the people we were helping. Partnering with The River Fund enabled us to make that personal contact. The project fully engaged all chapter members, and encouraged others to participate as well, by donating or joining in. Through word of mouth, signs, posters, and announcements on the school loudspeaker, the donations poured in and we were able to create a full assembly line to sort through the items. Simultaneously, we had an assembly line packaging goody bags of donated candy, toys, and festive holiday trinkets to give to the homeless boys and girls. This helped to brighten their holiday season!

2. Did the experience teach you anything?

This project and our involvement with PTPI has helped us all become aware that the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter are very real for many neighbors in our community. As a chapter, we knew that our small effort would help warm the hearts of many and would also spread awareness of the true meaning of giving.

3. Tell us about your upcoming projects:

Continuing our partnership with the The River Fund, we will celebrate Valentine’s Day with our “Hearts of Caring Campaign.” Loving poetry, messages of caring and kindness, and chocolate will be given to our neighbors in Coney Island. We also plan to collect stuffed animals that will be sent to children in hospitals in Israel. For Global Youth Service Day in April, we plan to do something for children in need in the community. Finally, we are becoming e-pals with a group of teens from a high school in India who have visited our school as exchange students for the past two years.

4. How are you working to encourage your fellow students to join the chapter?

We plan many other exciting events and let people know that it’s never too late to join our chapter. People are always welcome, even if they are not an official member, and encouraged to participate in our service projects. We make frequent announcements and schedule frequent meetings, to give people a chance to take part.

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Discussion Question 9 for Sarah’s Key

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Question answered by Eileen Purkeypile, Coordinator of Membership Services at PTPI.

9. What theme appealed to you most in Sarah’s Key?

Although it was difficult to read about the circumstances Sarah was thrown into, I was attracted to the theme of the loss of innocence in Sarah’s Key. Sarah was forced to grow up in a few days, as she faced the realities of hatred and insecurity. From her naïve attempt to save her brother in the cupboard, to her desperate plea to her parents to make things better, Sarah experienced every element of the Holocaust.

I believe this theme to be an important one to the story, because it portrays a part of the Holocaust seldom told – it portrays the effects of the Holocaust on Jewish children. Together with adults, the children suffered every part of the war. Injustice, hate, hunger, separation… What sets them apart is the fact that they did not and could not understand what was happening to them. They were in no way prepared for such a devastating event.

As we look at the life of Sarah beyond her childhood years, we can see the telltale marks of a person who lost her innocence much too early and by force. She became a person many of us cannot understand. She lived a life that was forever marked by her brother’s death, and eventually died because of it. The loss of innocence in Sarah’s Key embodies the most tragic part of this story. It represents Sarah’s unsuccessful attempt to save her younger brother and the impact that loss had on her.

 People to People International’s Global Book Club is a way to connect with your global community. Global Book Club members communicate about valuable, international topics and gain unique insight and understanding of various cultural views in relation to those topics. For more information on People to People International, visit

The opinions expressed by PTPI staff and other book club members are entirely their own and are not necessarily the views of PTPI or its Officers, Board of Directors and Board of Trustees.