Between Old and New
AUC has a special place in my heart. I always say I am one of AUC’s daughters. I have been visiting the university since I was very young. My father used to work as a senior agriculture engineer, and he knows every tree planted in the two Main Campus gardens. He showed me where I can find the lemon, mandarin and mango trees. The lemon tree is located on the right hand side of the stairs leading to the cafeteria on the Main Campus. Each year, I wait for its flowers to bloom and have developed a habit of picking a lemon every morning before heading to my office. I am really going to miss the beauty of this campus.
As for me, I witnessed many things that most people do not know about. I remember the student dormitory, the tennis court and the old gym when they were located in the Old Falaki building. I remember the Wallace Theater, the construction of the Jameel center, and the clinic when it was located on the first floor of the Social Science Building.
In 1992, I joined AUC as an undergraduate student majoring in journalism and mass communication, and I can’t forget those wonderful four years. I used to spend many hours reading old newspapers in the microform unit in the Main Library, or surfing the old editions of Description de L’Egypte in the rare books library. The gorgeous villa that houses the rare books library is one of the reasons I decided to minor in Islamic art and architecture. I enjoyed every minute I spent studying the subject, thanks to the professors, the villa and AUC’s special collection.
I spent three more wonderful years studying for my master’s in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL). Attending classes in the Administration Building where the TAFL program is located is one of my favorite memories. I fell in love with the building, which is like a maze to me. It is unique with its narrow and hidden hallways that can unexpectedly take you to another part of the building.
After that, I was fortunate to work at the university at the vice provost’s office, situated in the same magnificent Administration Building. I was lucky to have my office located in what used to be the office balcony of Prince Ahmed Fouad, who later became the king of Egypt, where he used to drink his morning coffee in 1908. At the time, he was president of the board of the Egyptian University, which later became Cairo University, and this building used to be a palace directly facing the Nile. I enjoyed my two tall wooden Arabesque windows: one facing the beautiful Science Building garden and the other facing Tahrir Square.
I will never forget the wonderful memories I had in the downtown campus. Those memories are carved in my heart.
Today, as AUC has moved to New Cairo, I feel I am engraving new memories. When I first stepped into the campus, I was truly impressed. Everything about it is fabulous, from the architecture and the size of the project to the tremendous research that has gone into building every inch of it. Settling into my office at the Administration Building, I was ecstatic to know that the trees growing underneath my window are actually fruit trees that will bear mangoes, lemon and oranges. In a way, I felt that I am reliving my downtown memories.
The move is truly a turning point in the history of the university. Operating two campuses –– one downtown and one in New Cairo –– is a huge and extraordinary feat, but AUC has always made us proud and I believe it will continue to do so. As the slogan goes, AUC is “Making History Again.” I feel happy to witness and be a part of the making of this history.
Dalia Saad ’96, ’00 is the academic publications coordinator at the vice provost’s office.
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