Now I'm pretty settled in Alexandria and getting into more fun activities at Fairhaven.  This month we also have a 4th of July party in Cairo and our last group retreat in Minya.
On July 3rd we had another barbecue in Maadi to celebrate Independence Day. Adding icing to the strawberry flag cake Rachel is picking the white candies out of the mix to use for stars on the flag cake.
So the cake is not exactly red, white, and blue, but it's the thought that counts, right?
We had quite a feast of cookout foods and lots of good company.
Filling up on American foods we haven't had in ten months at the 4th of July party sponsored by the American embassy in Cairo - aren't you glad to know where your tax dollars are really going?
We played on the playground at the Cairo American College. Tug of war against the US Marines (I don't think anyone ever beat them).
Back in Alexandria, Rice Krispie treats (or Temmy's Crisp Rice treats, as you might call them in Egypt) were our first really successful cooking project.  This was partly due to the fact that nearly all the kids and some of the teachers had never seen marshmallows before and none of them had ever had a Rice Krispie treat!
For a craft project, we helped the kids make musical instruments - drums, tambourines, shakers, and guitars.  The teachers thought this was a great project, but we'll see if they still think that in a few days when they are tired of the racket caused by 40 kids pounding on cans and shaking bells and boxes of bottle caps!
Once a week I help take all the kids (about 50 of them) to a local pool to swim.  Thursday was our first day and the kids had a great time (as did Aaron and I).  Some of the little ones aren't quite sure about the water, but they all have little inflatable tubes, which makes it easier for us to keep track of them all.
The weekend of July 8-10, our group of volunteers had our last retreat of the year and we traveled to Minya.  One of the highlights of our weekend was a visit to a village outside Minya.  Our large police escort had to "protect" us from the hordes of village children that wanted to greet us, but it was interesting to get a glimpse of village life.
This is our extensive security force.  They are all carrying large guns and doing little else; note, however, on the right the guard is chasing kids away from us by hitting them with a stick.
The kids were very eager to greet (or stare at) us and were running along on all sides of our group trying to get as close as possible; I guess it isn't everyday a group of 10 Americans shows up in these rural villages.
On Sunday we visited another village in order to worship at a Christian church that is served by one of the graduate students from the seminary in Cairo.  On the right you can see that the church is divided into two sections (one for men and one for women) that are separated by a tall wall.
After leaving Minya, Karen, Aaron, and I returned to Alexandria and brought one of Karen's friends with us.  In Minya she does a lot of puppet shows for kids, so dusted off the school's puppets and put on an ad-lib puppet show (in Arabic) first for the children in the group home and later for the kids in the day care.
The kids from the group home greatly enjoyed the show, especially when the puppets spoke to them by name. Aaron conversing with his puppet The whole cast
Puppets in action Hanging out with all my friends A kiss for the photographer
The daycare kids provided a larger audience and they were a bit more critical Karen's friend Mervat with her puppet Gharlos The cast for the second show (my puppet name was Girgis)
Every week Karen and I think of craft and cooking activities for the kids - we've done lots of different things and it has been fun, although we're starting to run out of ideas.
One day in music we used the instruments we had made in art the previous week (If you're happy and you know it...hit your tambourine, etc).  Most of the kids really got into shaking their tambourines and shakers, pounding on drums, and strumming banjoes; a few of the younger kids (on the right) didn't quite get it and thought the shakers would be more fun broken into pieces.
The science teacher in me was happy to help when the four and five year olds planted seeds in yogurt cups.
Making soft pretzels was another fun activity for the kids and we ended up with some very interesting shapes.
A few times I have helped in the toddler class and spent most of the day playing on the floor, building block towers, racing cars, pushing riding toys, and catching kids at the bottom of the slide.  They seem to think I'm a human jungle gym, which is exhausting, but we have a lot of fun!
As a follow-up to our puppet show the previous week, we helped the children make their own paper-bag puppets, another activity that proved quite popular.