During her current visit to New York to participate in the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York, Egyptian Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Wali attended the Benefit Dinner held by the American University in Cairo (AUC) Board of Trustees on 16 May at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET).
The event is among a series of yearlong events commemorating the centenary of the AUC. It was held amid the majestic setting of ancient Egypt’s Temple of Dendur in the MET’s Sackler Wing. Ms Wali attended wearing an elegant yet subtle typical Egyptian burgundy velvet dress that caught the eye of all the attendants.
“In the span of 100 years, some institutions grow and mature, and others fade away and lose direction,” Ms Wali said during her opening speech. One hundred years ago, she pointed out, Egyptians welcomed AUC which steadily grew until it became Egypt’s most notable international university, and among the most important in the region. It boasts 38,000 graduates from 125 nations.
“The AUC has built a strong heritage, and it proudly steps into its second centenary with a new campus that is 30 times larger than its original one, with beautiful landscaping and modern facilities that serve 5500 students and more than 1500 faculty members and staff.” Ms Wali spoke of how advanced the campus is, and how eco-friendly.
“But it is not about buildings,” Ms Wali stressed, “it’s about people, their vision, spirit, passion and values. This is the real wealth of the AUC which is also a symbol of the friendship and strategic relationship between Egypt and the US.
“It has been 100 wonderful years for the AUC, but what are 100 years for a country like Egypt that has behind it a history of more than 5000 years of civilisation. The temple we stand by today testifies to this civilisation. Therefore, although AUC must recognise and celebrate its achievements, it must consider its centennial as a strong solid foundation to move forward for the next 100 years. It is beautiful to commemorate this occasion with a yearlong celebration, yet we must engage in a serious dialogue on today’s problems, develop a vision for the future and renew the commitment to provide Egyptians with the strongest weapon they need: a good education”, investing in young people and setting Egyptians on the path of a better tomorrow.”
Wali posed the question of how AUC can contribute to the agendas of development and sustainable development in Egypt, to the objectives of the 2030 Sustainable Development Plan, considering the complex social and political challenges Egypt is currently facing? To which she answered: “We need greater involvement of students in community development projects as part of their education, in order for them to better connect to their grassroots, and for us to have graduates who are qualified and well educated yet rooted in their community and proud of their history and identity, and at the same time very much aware of global perspectives.”
The Minister of Social Solidarity then addressed the AUC Board of Trustees: “I urge you to engage in serious dialogue with other universities in Egypt, with the private sector and with civil society as a whole, in order to contribute to the development discourse and to help us find innovative answers to complex issues.
“We must embark on intensive and decisive dialogue to tackle economic and social issues in Egypt with its population of 100 million. We need a hundred AUCs to help us attract more international universities, we need help to encourage universities and public and private research centres to undertake more joint research and exchange projects.”
21 May 2019