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Egypt trip delivers lessons in culturally sensitive counseling practices

May 14, 2008

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    Johanna Hall, Lewis & Clark participant, said: Traveling to Egypt…I learned so much more than I thought I would. An immersion experience has a unique ability to pull and push one's soul to grow and expand. From the global political perspective to the deep crevices of my heart, I was challenged. I learned how much I do not know. I learned about my global place of privilege as an American. I expanded my definitions for womanhood, spirituality, religion, family, and culture. I became more gro
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    Menoufiya University presenters explained many aspects of Egyptian life, including statistics relative to women, children, and family health and well-being; trends and progress in women’s societal involvement; human political, social, economic, and relational rights within Islam; divorce laws and trends; contemporary issues women, children, and families are facing in Egypt; domestic violence; and education.
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    The group visited two homes for children who either do not have parents or whose parents are unable to raise them. The homes were lively, spacious, and well kept areas in which numerous assigned family units functioned to raise and teach children. Students were introduced to a number of family groups and spent general playtime with kids. This field visit offered new ways to think about how foster care might be better designed in the United States.
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    A trip to Venicia Villiage offered the group an opportunity to observe several weddings and to spend time talking with Egyptian friends, as in this boat ride on the Nile.
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    The faculty of Specific Education at MU’s rural campus prepared a display of sewing and embroidery arts for the students and offered a tour of fine arts.
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    During their stay at Ashmoon, students visited two rug factories. This offered them the opportunity to visit a rural village and learn how families and communities work collectively to teach marketable trades across generations.
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    Outside of class lectures, students visited local schools, health centers and factories. They also spent informal time getting to know Egyptian colleagues.
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    Cultural site-seeing activities included visits to the pyramids, the Egyptian Museum, the Bazaar at Khona Khalily, the Citadel and Mohamad Ali Mosque, and traditional ethnic restaurants. Students also spent time with a local healer who demonstrated a holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment of physical and emotional problems.

(Portland, Ore.)—Lewis & Clark graduate students gained invaluable intercultural experience for future work in family therapy through a new partnership between the Graduate School of Education and Counseling and Menoufiya University (MU) in Shebin El-Kom, Egypt.

Traveling to Egypt in March, eight Lewis & Clark students participated in an immersion course at MU, created by Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology Teresa McDowell and MU faculty. The course, which was designed to focus on cross-cultural understanding and enhance cultural competence, brought together Lewis & Clark and MU students for a series of intensive learning experiences in and out of the classroom.

“There was an important emphasis on clarifying and attempting to correct common misconceptions of the Middle East and of the United States,” said McDowell, the coordinator of the Marriage, Couple and Family Therapy (MCFT) program. “The Menoufiya University faculty’s plan of integrating formal lectures with field experiences and informal learning opportunities offered all of us excellent learning opportunities.”

The group from Lewis & Clark worked closely with 10 MU students, studying topics such as the status of women in Egypt, the rights of Muslim women, domestic violence in rural and urban Egypt, and cross-cultural misconceptions. More than 100 MU students also participated in various lectures.

 

For more information:

Vanessa Fawbush
Communications Officer
503-768-7992
fawbush@lclark.edu