By Menna Taher
International students have started a new group at The American University in Cairo, partly in response to the numerous concerns their peers have about the new campus.
“People want to go back to the old campus but that’s not going to happen,” said Phil Zager, founder of the Foreign Students Association. “So we need to start thinking of other solutions.”
Zager, an economics and international relations student from the University of Southern California, and other students have set up a booth next to the library.
“There’s a Graduate Student association and an Undergraduate Student Association,” Zager said. “So I thought, why not create one for the international students?”
The group is currently offering forms at the booth, so students can write down their concerns and suggestions. The group has also been handing out pears, to get students to eat healthy.
“I think it’s really great to have an outlet for students with problems,” said Alyssa Lanz, a student. “I told my friends about the booth and they seem excited about it.”
For many study abroad students, the main concern is their housing situation.
Over 400 students are living at three hotels owned by the Egyptian army in Heliopolis and Nasr City, put there by the university after contractors failed to complete campus dormitories in time for the new semester.
With complaints ranging from a lack of Internet to cockroaches, the hotels are far from what many international students expected to be residing in.
Despite the real problems, some students are trying to maintain a positive view about the new campus.
“I could sit here and have a defeatist attitude but that’s a semester abroad wasted,” said Peter Landis. “We have to make this work.”
The group received help in organizing from Abier Elbarbary, director of International Student Affairs, Nelly Corbel, senior coordinator of International Student Affairs, and Dina Wafa, manager of the International Student Association.
“We want to tell students this is where to go,” Corbel said. “We want them to know we exist.”