Trade Little Egypt for the real deal

By Austin Miller

The university’s mascot was once the royal breed of Egypt, and now Salukis can make the pilgrimage back home.

Students and members of the community are able to visit Egypt, Greece and Turkey as part of the Ancient Legacies program, led by Robert Hahn. At 6 p.m. Thursday in Lawson Hall Room 201, Hahn will host a meeting for those interested in traveling.

The trip through Egypt will last from May 19 through 31, while the Greek portion lasts from June 1 through 14.

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Students are eligible for three to six credit hours for the philosophy-based program. Prices start at $2,800, but increase with airfare.

Hahn, a professor in the philosophy department, has guided the trip for more than 30 years, which always has a centralized theme.

This year’s trip is focused on the question of happiness. What makes people happy in Egypt versus Turkey and America? What makes a student happy compared to an adult?

Hahn said a diverse age group is key for these trips.

The program can only succeed if people with a wide range of experiences are brought together. Not every student has the same experience as their parents. It is important for community members to go along too. The two groups fill in the gaps with philosophical discussion.

“I don’t expect that the parents, grandparents or the students know much about Ancient Egypt or Ancient Greece, but they do know what it means to be happy,” Hahn said.

Egyptologist Ihab Shaarawy will accompany the group on leg of the trip in Egypt. Shaarawy has two master’s degrees from the Paris-Sorbonne University in Egyptology and has been working with SIU since 1995.

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Shaarawy explains the history of Egyptian monuments including the pyramids. He said it is important for him to explain the history of his country to complete strangers, so they understand the importance. These are some of the oldest structures in history; so he hopes foreigners get in touch with a culture outside of their own.

“It’s a way for people to know where they originally came from because it is the origin of civilization,” he said.

Aside from just visiting the must-see tourist locations, participants will engage in a wide range of activities to make learning fun.

Hahn said while in Greece, the group looks at several Greek inventions that have stood the test of time. Democracy, sculptures and the Olympics are some the big ideas the group will tackle.

When discussing the Olympics, members will run a race in the same stadiums used thousands of years ago. It may only be 600 feet, but you can still retrace the footsteps of ancient athletes.

To discuss democracy, travelers will reenact the trial of Socrates in an ancient counsel chamber.

Hahn said he believes he is still visiting ancient times because the locations have largely been unaltered.

“We’re using the country as a classroom’” Hahn said. “Although it’s strange to say, ‘I’m going to Ancient Egypt or Ancient Greece,’ I really think that is what we’re doing.”

Austin Miller can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AMiller_DE.

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