Marilyn Deeble went to great lengths for back to school. All the way to Cairo, Egypt, in fact.
The longtime Crofton Elementary School teacher is on a one-year teaching contract in Cairo.
“Just about every Egyptian I have met speaks some English,” Debble noted upon arrival in Egypt where it was 34 degrees Celsius.
“Every Egyptian has been polite and greeted me on the street with a smile or a good morning. Even when I got myself a little lost and there was not a single white or Westerner in the Arab neighbourhood I was in, nobody was rude or screamed out at me. I have a lot of respect for Egyptians – friendly, helpful, generous and – very important – tolerant.”
Deeble had only been home a short time from Ecuador when she packed her bags for Egypt.
“I actually went on a tour there about six years ago and I just loved it and I went back a second time,” she said of the Ecuador excursion.
That led to another trip and this was Deeble’s fourth time in Ecuador. This time, she took along two giant suitcases of donated goods from Chemainus and Crofton residents.
“The donations, I could have probably done a third suitcase,” Deeble indicated.
She received $295 in bottles and monetary donations to buy a laptop for the primitive community. Volume One Bookstore in Duncan donated Harry Potter No. 3 and No. 4 books in Spanish and she also packed donated shoes, clothing, school supplies and toys.
Deeble went to Wiririma, a small Indigenous community of people known as the Achuar, in southeastern Ecuador near the border with Peru in the Amazon.
“I was in Ecuador for two weeks, but I was only in the community for a week,” she explained.
“The community’s about 55 minutes by bush plane right into the Amazon. It was quite interesting, quite an experience. Talk about culture shock.”
Deeble said Ecuador just appealed to her from the first tour she made there.
“Some of the children have never seen a white outsider,” she noted. “That was interesting going in. I was the absolute minority.
“The people there are so generous. They have absolutely nothing. They’re amazingly strong people.”
There’s a small school in the community where Deeble spent quite a bit of time since teaching is her area of expertise.
She took the laptop for use in the school and Wifi is actually OK in one part of the country.
“I am back from Ecuador with lots of memories and quite an experience,” Deeble announced on her return home.
But some parts weren’t as memorable. “I have quite a few souvenirs from the mosquitoes,” Deeble joked.
She’s doing her Masters and the trips to Ecuador and now Egypt tie in nicely.
“My thesis is to do with Intercultural and teachers wanting to go to work in different countries, cultures. Now I know what this feels like. It added to me thesis.”
Deeble has taught at Crofton Elementary for 13 years. She’s currently living by the Nile where it’s about a 20-minute taxi ride to the pyramids and teaching at the B.C. Canadian International School in Cairo.
Deeble will be home again for a while at Christmastime. After her year is over, “I can decide and they can decide if things are going great,” she said.
“If I like it, I can stay. If I don’t, I can come back to what I love here.”