Nardien Sadik
Nardien Sadik
Cairo, Egypt 2023-2024
Hello everyone! My name is Nardien Sadik, and I am a 2023 Belmont graduate. My Lumos travel will be based in Cairo, Egypt and for six months I will be working alongside BlessEgypt to help advocate for underserved communities in Cairo. Read More About Nardien →

February Update :)

Hey Blog!

These past two weeks have been really good! I am in love with Egypt adventures and have been making good on a promise to myself to explore more while I am here! I had the awesome opportunity to go to a show at a local church that was put on by the kids who attend the church. It was really good and I enjoyed watching Egyptian theatre and comparing art styles with American ones.

I also have recently been going out to new cafes and restaurants with some friends I’ve made while being in Egypt which has been really fun. One of the friends I made while here got a visa to go work in Dubai so we threw him a goodbye party and I spent some time teaching him some key English phrases in order to help with the adjustment. I also have gotten really into Paddle and go somewhat frequently now to the local paddle court. I’ve always really loved sports and learning a new one with a few friends has been a fun way to pass the time.

I got to go paint some pottery recently which was also really fun and a lot harder than I thought it would be. I really like a challenge so I will definitely be going back. I recently said goodbye to a friend who was visiting Egypt who I got to see and it was really hard to not to miss her but the memories we made were so special.

The weather here has been slightly warmer which has also been helping with my good mood, and I am happy to report that I got into Vandy Law this past weekend which has been awesome as it has helped me not stress so much about the admissions cycle.

In addition to going out to the theatre, cafes, and picking up a new hobby in paddle I have been having some really fulfilling meetings at work. I got the chance to work on the presentation a monk will present abroad discussing orthodoxy in great lengths to a group of who has never heard of it before. It was really cool to learn so much more in depth about my faith and get to share this knowledge with others in an indirect way.

 

a colleague and I took a picture in the office

after photo of a shirt i decided to cut the neck off of

before photo of the shirt I decided to cut up for fun

group photo of the little get together for the friend leaving to Dubai

hang out in a cafe

donkey in the streets of egypt that looked kinda cute

photo of my friend Amira who was visiting from the States and has now gone back

Zatun in Egypt, a new city explored

pottery with Amira!

 

Church theatre performance

 

Thats all for now Blog,

Until Next Time,

Nardien Sadik

Cairo, Egypt

January was Great!

Hello Blog!

I’ve had the best two weeks and I can’t wait to share it all with you guys!

I had a really good time in Dubai it was really fun and something unexpected but really excited happened! Starting off with the fun I had a really good time with my family, and spent the weekend exploring Dubai with them.  My cousins had never been to topgolf before or tried boba so I spent the weekend exposing them to all these new things which was really exciting and fun to watch their reactions. I also got exposed to new things myself and got to see things like the Burj Khalifa and the Miracle Gardens which were very beautiful.  I tried Saudi Arabian food for the first time and got to play paddle in doubles which was also a first for me.

Moving on to the surprising thing that happened that made the Dubai trip even more interesting! For the past 2 weeks or so I have been working on this presentation for a conference on the Refugee crisis in the Middle East and specifically my work focused on Egypt on behalf of His Holiness Pope Tawadros the 2nd, and in partnership with BLESS. To my surprise the conference was held in Dubai and during the exact weekend  was in Dubai so I was invited to attend by the abouna who was presenting my research and speech! It was totally unexpected and super kind to be offered a place at this conference! I really enjoyed it and met some amazing priests and pastors from all around the world and despite the fact that I had no professional religious training they entertained my thoughts and included me in the panels which was truly amazing!

Other than the Dubai trip which was really the highlight of my weekend,  I also just received my engagement video back from the videographer which was really special and made my day! It has been rough being so far away from my Fiance but this made it a little easier! 🙂

In other news I had the opportunity to meet up with some church friends who invited me to a prayer weekend which I am really excited for and looking forward too. I really like attending the church services in Egypt and getting involved in services has been a huge blessing in terms of meeting up with people and expanding my social circles but also for the religious benefit as well. The group is all college aged like myself so it’s nice to be around people who have the same goals and are also in a similar place in life as the fellowship is much needed.

Lastly, although these past two weeks have been overall really good I also have had some lows which is life, but I wouldn’t feel right if I only mentioned the good stuff so I will share those things too! My fiance recently lost his job which has been really challenging and requires a lot of prayers, its rough not being there to support him but trying to be as present as possible despite the time difference and the ocean in between us.  Please keep him in your prayers!

That’s all for now Blog!

Until Next Time,

Nardien Sadik

Cairo, Egypt and Dubai !

 

A Sick Coptic Christmas

Hello Blog!

I have had a pretty tame two weeks as the day before Coptic Christmas I actually came down with a cold. I spent the next 11 days trying to fight off a cold that just wouldn’t go away and as a result I didn’t really celebrate much. This is of course with the exception of my extended family taking me to a roller coaster park in celebration of the holiday. We spent the time ice skating, riding the merry go round, and trying to see who was the bravest on the rides. It was extremely memorable and while I did get sick from this experience it was still worth having.

I am really into coffee lately, and have been challenging myself to go try new coffee from local shops in my area just to explore more of the city. I got to try the one pictured below before I got sick, but hopefully now that I am starting to feel better I can retry this challenge.

In other news, I have planned a small dubai weekend trip for the end of the month with my cousins who were also going and let me tag along, I am really looking forward too it. I’ve never been to dubai but I am excited to explore the country and since its a short 3 hour plane ride it felt very manageable. I am excited to share how that experience will be with you all as well!

I have discovered that being sick is very boring and so I took up poetry writing again in order to pass the time and I thought I’d share my writing with you all, important context is that I really hate how hard dust is to clean:

Incessant dust clings to every building on my street, staining every architectural structure unsightly yellow. 

The dust greets me in the morning with my first breathe and hides in every imaginable crevice irregardless of the attempts to rid it from my 4th story home. 

Daily, I walk in this Sahara turned city and marvel at the cars that carve out their own path, squeezing through the gaps in the traffic, loudly claiming their place via a honking system still indecipherable to a mere tourist, but admittedly effective. 

The sounds of horns blaring fades to a dull background replaced by the loud merchants rhythmic chants, announcing their product of the day, hoping to score today. The urgency apparent in their boldness,quickly looking away you pray they don’t notice you. 

Continuing my walk I rehearse the phrase over and over again, moving my tongue in foreign patterns in hopes I could cox out the authentic accent, and successfully play the part my looks help sell. 

I stand firmly in line, actively try to hide the annoyance of being cut in line again and again by more eager customers who push past me money in hand. Carefully I pull out a crisp 100 and make eye contact with the cashier, though acknowledging my presence she looks past me at the father whose yelling his order over my shoulder, his arm outstretched and his breath heavy on my neck. 

Attempting to reclaim the space I take a step forward and recite my order, the whole ordeal a bigger struggle than it ought be, but a sense of pride swells in me nonetheless, 

I had conquered the basics. 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all for now blog,

Until Next Time,

Nardien Sadik,

Cairo, Egypt

Hello 2024!

Hi Blog!

I hope everyone had a good christmas! I know I sure did, I had the best time celebrating in Egypt with my friends, and getting closer to my coworkers through a fun secret santa!

In work news, I can finally say I feel like I have done meaningful work because I was assigned to write a letter on behalf of the Coptic church for a conference we were invited too that the Pope will speak at. To be asked to write this is an honor, and I am thankful for the opportunity.  The work has been challenging but is starting to feel fulfilling which I am thankful for.

In life news, I got into Law School with a full ride so that’s really exciting and something to look forward too when I get back to the States. In other news, the electricity has been spotty the last fews days which makes it hard to cook and sometimes the water also goes out which is slightly annoying, but nothing not manageable.

I have plans to travel over the long weekend after Coptic Christmas to Alexandria which is a few hours away from Cairo. I wanted to wait and write my blog after the new years as I had some really excited plans to celebrate with some friends and family and my fiance (virtually). The group I hung out with is pictured below and we went to a place called Maryland which was really nice.

Some highlights over the last few weeks have been the christmas celebrations in the streets, going to the cinema with some friends I have made here, and going shopping for my secret santa. Also pictured below is a trip I took to Bor Said to a church that has a picture of saint mary which is considered Holy and a blessing to visit on a day trip.

As much as I am loving the new experiences, I am also missing my friends and family at home and have felt it especially during the holidays a little extra. I am used to the constant buzz of people around me and with ilaria gone and my family an ocean away it has been a little more quiet than usual. I have taken it upon myself to go out more after work so I don’t feel quite as isolated but it’s definitely been the hardest time yet in Egypt .

My parting thoughts are that I am going to challenge myself for the new year to be more adventurous in Egypt, and to make the most of the remaining 3 months that I have here. I want to make sure that I get a well rounded experience of all of Egypt not just Cairo and my work and hopefully that will be reflected in the next blog post!

Sorry for the late post, had the intention of posting on the 2nd of January, but unfortunately ran into some electricity outage issues.

 

Until Next Time

Nardien Sadik

Cairo Egypt

My friends and I celebrating the New Year together

A picture of saint mary in Bor Said, about 2 hours away from Cairo and considered holy

It Finally Feels like Winter

Hey Blog,

I hope you are all well!

I finally feel like I have some updates for you guys that are exciting! The first thing is my efforts in trying to balance my time here with my applications for law school has been quite a challenge but I have finally finished and submitted! This will hopefully free up some time for me to go explore more of the city in my downtime!

I also am happy to report I have been learning some Egyptian dishes to make when guests are over and I have perfected the Nescafe drink and the classic bean and tofu combination to serve up.

In completely other news I met up with some distant relatives recently and it was a really emotional experience for me as I didn’t think I would have the chance to see them as they live quite far, but they made the effort to come all the way to Cairo when they heard that I was in the country and we shared a meal together. It was a great day filled with a lot of storytelling, picture showing, hugs and laughter. I am really thankful I got to experience being around them as I often used to feel left out when growing up away from all of my cousins and relatives in Egypt.

In more exciting news, I went wedding dress shopping for my upcoming wedding in July! While I haven’t found the dress yet, I am really excited to keep searching as the styles here are very unique to the ones found in America and I have a feeling I will fall in love with one soon!

As far as the office life goes, I can say that everyone has been extremely kind and friendly and all the coworkers recently went out together to share a meal after work. While it was a casual outing it made me feel like we had finally become friends and I have been really enjoying the company.

On that note, while I would love to come on here and say it has been smooth sailing all around in reality the home sickness has started to hit a tad bit. The excitement of the newness of Egypt has worn off and now things like missing my fiance, my family, and major life events have left behind a sense of loneliness. I am thankful once more that Ilaria is here with me though as she makes me feel companionship and our support for one another makes all the difference.

One of the best things I have done thus far in Egypt, which I have chosen to save the best for last for, is serving in the local church every Monday and  Wednesday. My service consists of teaching English classes to underprivileged children and it brings me great joy as the children are kind and hilarious and truly in need.  To be a small part of the reason they get an education makes this trip feel so important to me and has made me look forward to the days I get to see them.

Until Next Time Blog,

Bye for Now,

Nardien Sadik

2 Month Mark!

 

Hey Blog!

Wow I truly can’t believe it has been two months already, time is going by really fast and while I can definitely feel it, it is still shocking to think I have already completed a third of this trip! I am still really grateful for the opportunity to be in Egypt, and I am so happy to report that I finally feel like my Arabic dialect is becoming more authentically Egyptian rather than clearly an American who is speaking Arabic :).

These last two weeks have been amazing in terms of the work we are doing with Bless.  I had the phenomenal opportunity to meet his Holiness Pope Tawadros the 2nd during our donor meeting where Bless was showcasing all of the work the nonprofit has accomplished this past year and shared the plans for the coming year with the donors. It was a really cool experience where I got to see how to learn just how much impact the organization has on the local communities. In addition to the donors meeting, I was able to help work on a proposal to help eliminate female mutilation which was such fulfilling work.

I have been enjoying the experience of finding new restaurants and areas of Egypt to explore. I recently explored an area called the zamalek with some new friends and tried a  restaurant that sold Salmon on the Nile which was delicious with a great view.

It’s also been really amazing to be in the streets of Egypt, grab a cup of mango from a local vendor and  visit a local church to see the expression of the Coptic faith so beautifully powerful and learn about the historical significance. I really love the moving stories of the people who died for their faith in Egypt as they make sure not to let them die in memory and honor them by telling their stories to visitors to inspire their own faith. It is a impactful and amazing tradition that I have gained much from.

Some observations that I have noticed while being in Egypt are that the people are extremely observant, they are friendly and welcoming and many are willing to help out strangers.

I also recently learned how to bargain which is a huge part of the culture here and is aiding me in integrating more and quite fun to do  as it feels like a small win when the bargain goes my way. I enjoy the feeling of blending in with the people around me and trying to truly live as a native which is becoming easier and more enjoyable as the familiarity settles in.

Some recent life updates:

#1 I got a haircut in Egypt that feels really different and exciting that I am really happy with.

#2 I got Christmas nails that are making me feel festive and remind me of home a little as thanksgiving wasn’t really a thing over here and I wanted to still be in the spirits.

That’s all for now blog,

Until next time,

Nardien Sadik

Cairo, Egypt

 

Egypt is Home :)

Hey Everyone!

I am loving Egypt. The atmosphere in Shubra is very welcoming and community based and I am starting to feel like my integration into the community is paying off. I have mastered simple tasks like crossing the road, buying snacks from the local bodega, and having small conversations with my neighbors, and learning the bargaining culture.

Some honest thoughts continuing into month number 2 are as follows:

    • The Arabic language is so versatile and I love learning the informal Arabic as much as I love learning new words to add to my limited vocab. Only being here for a short time has already made me feel more Egyptian than I ever have and fitting in with the locals feels like a small win every time. I learned not to pay in high number bills as it can come across as rude or inconsiderate irregardless of your intentions or the fact that you only have a 100 to pay with.
    • While my accent is a giveaway that I am not a native some people simply think I am from a different middle eastern country and so more or less treat me the same as a local Egyptian. If I act with confidence it works out pretty much everytime.
    •  The bargaining culture is very fun but I’m still figuring out the prices of things as they sometimes change depending on what the seller is feeling that day and I never know when I got a good price.
    • Another really exciting update is one of my friends from the United Kingdom was able to come visit Egypt for a few days and we got to meet up for a little dinner before she left again back home. Getting to see someone familiar and sharing this experience with them for a few hours was truly an amazing time and I am really thankful that I was able to do so. 
    • Another really exciting part about being in Egypt is the family! While I don’t often get to see my family as they all have busy lives filled with work and school and daily life, some of my cousins and I have gotten the chance to reconnect after church on Sunday which was a really fulfilling experience for my inner child who has always wanted to have a large family. I got to play chess, eat amazing Egyptian food, and just overall be in their presence for a little which was really exciting.
    • Perhaps my most meaningful update is I recently took on a service at the local church on the weekends and some days after work to help teach English to children who are unable to afford a teacher, and whose parents are either deceased or illiterate. It’s been the highlight of my time in Egypt and truly amazing to get to be a part of as the kids are truly in need and feeling like I am part of the solution leaves a warm feeling in my heart. They are all extremely precious and graciously welcomed me in with open arms. Truly some of the smartest students I’ve ever had and while this service was unplanned it feels like it was meant to be. I love them deeply already and I can’t wait to watch their progress for the remaining time i’m in Egypt.
    • The Cathedral where I work
      • A funny shop name
      •  
      • My cousin and I playing chess
      • My friend from the U.K.
      • My cousin and I reconnecting 
      • A fun activity I did over the weekend
      • Office space
      • family pictures I’ve never seen
      • Another view of the Cathedral I work at .

 

Thanks blog thats all for now,

Until Next Time,

Nardien Sadik

Cairo Egypt

 

A very eventful first month.

As I write this it is currently Halloween which isn’t really a thing in Egypt but it felt right to acknowledge. Blog! Egypt is a beautiful country and honestly it feels like the time has flown by. I have enjoyed getting into the rhythm of things and finding a routine for myself. I mistakenly thought the weather would be much colder than it actually is in Egypt right now, currently it still feels like fall and I am severely underprepared as I stuffed my suitcase with sweaters upon sweaters, but I managed to take a belmont shirt which thankfully has saved me on many occasions in this weather. I also got the amazing opportunity to visit a beautiful  Coptic Orthodox Church and I have loved getting to experience the liturgy in mostly arabic and coptic as opposed to English, Arabic, and Coptic. It is hard to put into words how special it is to finally connect with this part of my identity and make it my own but that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried! I’ve been writing a lot of poetry making sure to process everything going on and really let it sink in that I am in Egypt. The entire thing has felt a little surreal even 3 weeks in but I am slowly grasping that this is reality for a while and I am loving it.

Part of accepting reality is acknowledging that Egypt has a border with Gaza and that there is so much happening a mere country over. My thoughts often go to how I can support those affected in this time during my freetime seeing as I am so close geographically, and I care. I find myself praying for peace.

Another really cool aspect of this experience thus far is learning how to be self sufficient. The other day I was making nescafe, a common Egyptian drink and I learned how to light the stove top which uses gas with a match. While it doesn’t seem like a huge deal the fact that I sat there and figured it out felt extremely satisfying afterwards when I finally produced the desired coffee and it definitely tasted even better.

To speak about the internship experience so far, its been really cool to meet my bosses Safinaz and Ghada, they are both incredibly humble people who volunteer their free time to Bless in order to an their home country a better place.  So far I know there is a huge event on Nov. 27th that requires the majority of Ilaria and I’s  attention, and I have been trying to learn as quickly as possible in order to switch gears. I wanted to see if there is a way to support the Gaza humanitarian relief that Egypt is doing currently for the civilians affected by the war and am still ironing out the details so hopefully I will be able to update the blog about that soon!

In more personal news I get my LSAT score back tomorrow which is my last step before submitting applications. I hope the best and will update the blog as decisions come in!

Thats all for now blog,

Nardien Sadik

Cairo, Egypt

First Update of the Month!

Hello blog!

I am so happy to share that I safely arrived in Cairo, Egypt on the 11th at 1 am.  Although it hasn’t been that many days on paper, it feels like a lifetime has passed since I was packing for Egypt. So far I have had the first few days to unpack and settle in before the volunteer work starts, and have taken the opportunity to explore the city and learn how to get around the streets near the place i’ll be sleeping  for the next 6 months.

The area that I am in is very lively, and as it turns out there is always something going on. The car horns beep constantly as they drive through the relatively narrow street next to the apartment, and its taken some adjusting but I really love how alive the city feels. I tried a new shawarma place the 2nd night as I didn’t yet have groceries and it was fantastic. Something kind of shocking was the power went out while I was eating with Ilaria and although it wasn’t scary it was just unexpected as it turns out this happens regularly by the government in order to cut down on energy bills. I found it sad that this was happening to these small business owners but was quickly cheered up by their contagious positivity. In addition to eating I was able to take a walk around the neighborhood and saw that many of the nearby streets functioned as a sort of farmers market/ street vendor hub with each blanket or small store selling one type of thing. I was again really struck by how different it was, but also excited that the culture I was looking forward to being immersed in is already proving to be extremely accessible.

I am happy to say that I was also able to check seeing the pyramids and riding a camel off of the bucket list on the first night. It was an entirely unique experience to Egypt and definitely something every visitor of Cairo needs to experience at least once. It was interesting to me seeing how the vendors reacted to my attempted arabic while still very much looking like a native, it was as if they were confused if I was a tourist or simply didn’t speak very fluent Arabic but lived in Egypt. As it turns out, they were trying to decipher my country of origin to determine if I was to be given the Egyptian native pricing or the tourist price. It was definitely fun trying to blend in and relieving to get to settle into the country before starting all of the amazing volunteer work after the weekend ends! I am most excited to finally get to work on the service project I designed and see it through. It is starting to feel very real that I am no longer in Nashville, and I am ready to embrace it full heartedly.

I’ve attached 2 pictures, 1 with my name on a store sign which was just really neat to find and unexpected, and the other from my Pyramids visit that just really screamed, “Welcome to Egypt” to me so I felt compelled to include it.

That’s all for now blog,

Until next time

Nardien Sadik 🙂

Cairo, Egypt

Excited about the Journey Ahead

Hello Blog!

This is my pre-departure post and I cannot be more excited for Egypt! I am currently about 2 weeks away from departure and i’m feeling a lot of things such as excitement, curiosity, and definitely some uncertainty of what to expect. Out of excitement I have made a list of restaurants that I want to visit in the 6 months while in Cairo as well as followed a few instagram accounts that offer advice on how best  to integrate better with the locals. My goals for the trip are to walk away with a strong understanding of the Egyptian culture and to truly be a part of their community in a helpful way while abroad. I cannot wait for the challenges and for the growth that I hope will be apparent when looking back at these blogs as well.

In terms of preparation I feel like I have done all I can and yet that I could not possibly be ready, all at once. I’ve been speaking only Arabic at home in order to get used to the language, and every once in a while I realize how truly crazy it is that I will soon be in Africa working with a nonprofit on a volunteer trip that I meticulously planned for months. Its surreal truly and in all honesty a tad overwhelming but nonetheless bound to be an experience I will never forget.

The non-profit organization has been really helpful in communicating that they will teach us what is needed along the way which is a relief because it takes away the stress of trying to figure it all out alone. I also think it’s really great that I’ve had the chance to apply to law school during the few months after graduation before embarking on this journey so that I can be fully committed to this experience for the next 6 months. Finding out decisions while abroad will be interesting and potentially a little lonely at times but having something to focus all my attention on rather than anxiously waiting for decisions to come out every day will be a blessing.

Speaking of blessings, another thing that has given me some comfort is getting to go with Ilaria on this trip as I know we can look out for one another and that it’ll be easier to feel safe and secure with a little part of home always around. I couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity to grow as a person and work within the human rights field before law school, and I am so grateful to Belmont and to Lumos for offering this once in a lifetime opportunity to their students because I don’t think I would have ever had the chance to do this in life if not for them.

Send your prayers that the flight there is safe and painless, and that the layover provides an opportunity to explore london for a few hours before arriving haha.

Until next time blog,

Respectfully,

Nardien Sadik

Cairo, Egypt