As a new AUCian, I had no idea about the term Liberal Arts Education.
I used to see it everywhere, however its seeing was a gigantic question
mark. One day, I had to search for its meaning to write an essay. Since
that time, Liberal Arts education has become a must for me to exist.
The term liberal has nothing to do with liberty: it has to do with the liberation of the mind to think and innovate. It has to do with the freedom to study in different branches of knowledge, without any restriction to a certain field. Arts, in its definition, are not restricted to music, painting, and creative writing. Art is general term for everything that is practiced in an admirable creative way.
Then, what is education?. It should not be like that in the Egyptian universities: the large assembly line whose job is to fix this and that in the brain to end with quarter of a million pieces produced every year. Exactly as a Japanese car factory that produces dozens of Identical Mitsubishis every day. Perhaps some have different models, such as Engineering Mitsubishi Lancer or Medicine Mitsubishi Pajero, but the cars of each model end to be indistinguishable. Liberal Arts Education, on contrast, is jeweler.
In a liberal Arts university, you are inside a jeweler’s shop. A huge shop full of talented jewelers, whose jobs are to produce different pieces of jewels, every piece is made of different gem. The jeweler plays a game with the gem: his role is to make the gem accepts his design and the gem wants from him to remove the dust from it, and to put it on a golden ring. The jeweler removes the dust and he puts the gem on a ring. Thus the produced ring carries the beauty of the gem and the fingerprint of the skilled jeweler. This gem is the human intelligence. The intelligence is well known among the psychologists as the general human aspect. The real difference is the removal of the dust.
As a new student, I had a lot of fears. Among them a fear from a lethal cliff called the grade. In addition to that, I had a struggle in logic. When I joined the AUC I was wondering about the logic that I should adhere to: whether it is the Egyptian Eastern conservative logic, or the American Western free style logic. My first test was in an ECLT class, in a debate about homosexuality. I insisted on defending my Egyptian logic because I feel peace of mind when I adhere to it. I could not bear the debate, so I stood saying my opinion to the instructor, which I judge it now as a very arrogant opinion. The instructor shouted at me and said: "What?? You are…..".
For two days I tried to convince myself that there is no problem in repeating an English course, to be a 4th category student, and that probation is not a serious problem. However, the instructor came in the next lecture and all at once he opened the topic for discussion, directing his words to me. I thought at that situation as a matter of life or death. We kept on talking for 45 minutes. Finally, we reached to a truce or a reconciliation, however the discussion was not over. I went to his office several times, until I finished the course with his friendship.
From that time I realized the importance of liberal education. Had that situation been in any other university in Egypt, I would have failed that subject. I am really happy because I am not going to be another Mitsubishi!