Former Egypt educator sees results of democratic engagementBy Eastern Mennonite University
HARRISONBURG, Va. — Lee M. Yoder was astonished when he saw the Feb. 28, 2011, edition of Time.
Under a headline, “The Generation Changing the World,” was a picture of 23-year-old Egyptian college student Yoder recalled as a high schooler at Narmer American College, or NAC, in Cairo, where Yoder had been superintendent until 2008.
Time chose that student, Sarah Abdel Rahman, to be one of the seven young protesters on its cover as a result of her daily presence at the protests in Tahrir Square beginning Jan. 25.
Yoder also knows two others who took leading roles in the protest: Nadra Ibrahim, a Christian woman he had employed as a music teacher, and Mr. Adel, a Muslim man employed as an Arabic teacher at NAC.
Adel helped lead Muslims in prayer in Tahrir Square on Feb. 4, as Christians surrounded them. And on Feb. 6, Nadra led singing on the square, while Muslims surrounded Christians, an unusual public display of mutual support in Cairo.
As a school serving Egyptians hungry for an American-style education, NAC offered its students “their only direct experience with how democracies operate,” Yoder said. “We had school elections for student government representatives, complete with voting booths and election monitors.”
Eighty-one percent of the NAC students are Egyptian, though students hail from 15 other countries too. Ninety percent of the students at NAC were Muslim. Yoder said there was no tension between them and the mostly Christian faculty and minority segment of Christian students.
Yoder, a Belleville, Pa., native, majored in history as an undergraduate at Eastern Mennonite University and spent more than four decades in education as an administrator and professor.
This spring semester at EMU, Yoder is interim co-chair of undergraduate education, along with Sandy L. Brownscombe.
Different way of learning
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