The Most Amazing Volunteer

at the Cairo Meeting
Cairo, Egypt

As I think back on the events of the Cairo Meeting, there’s one man who stands out as the hero of the affair, even moreso because everything he did was as a volunteer, a concept quite new to Egyptian culture.

The Cairo Meeting included volunteers and participants from Egypt, Italy, Belgium, the United States, and surely other countries I don’t know about.  Most of the Italians didn’t speak Arabic – or, apparently, English – and organizers didn’t have high expectations of the Egyptians speaking English, let alone Italian. So a great deal of translation was needed. That was why CASA students like me were brought in, actually, although in the end we didn’t translate  much of anything because none of us speak Italian.

VP of the Cairo Meeting Wael Farouq, Pres. Guanieri of the Rimini Meeting, and the amazing interpreter!

But the interpreter above was amazing. In this speech, Pres. Guanieri spoke for a good five minutes under the assumption that her speech was being simultaneously translated, until the translator was found for an impressive feat of consecutive translation on stage. More amazing was the next day, though, when the astrophysicist who was scheduled to give a presentation on the Milky Way in English decided at the last minute to give his presentation in Italian. Suddenly our friend the interpreter was needed on stage to translate about astrophysics and philosophy, with no preparation of the material, study of the vocabulary, or warning about the content of the speeches. And he was flawless. Not only did he translate, but he did so in incredibly elegant fus7a Arabic, the kind no one speaks as a native language, and few contemporary Arabs even master as a language of rhetoric. It was amazing. And he did it as a volunteer, just like the rest of us.

Check out more photos here and here, and on the Rimini Meeting‘s Flickr feed.

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