Spring 2023 Westmont in Cairo

East meets Westmont...

You can rely on stereotypes and headlines to learn about Islam, or you could live in the epicenter of the Islamic world and learn from Muslims themselves. You can speculate why most countries in the Middle East aren't democratic, or you can observe firsthand three countries in the throes of democratic transitions and backslides. You can pray for peace in Israel and Palestine - or you can also find out how to work for peace.

During this semester you will live in Cairo, a developing world megalopolis, pulsating with energy, people and life. At the heart of the Arab World, Cairo is, in the words of the medieval traveler Ibn Battuta, um al dunya, "mother of the world".

You will be encouraged to experience another culture from the inside, studying Arabic, navigating your way around the city and interacting with Egyptians on a daily basis. You will develop relationships with your neighbors and Egyptian university students. You will for a season become an urban person, and learn to be comfortable negotiating a foreign metropolitan landscape.

You will also experience what it means to live in community in a new way. Removed from familiar social, relational and religious support systems, all the while being confronted with some of the most challenging issues facing the world today, you will need resources – and the program is deliberately structured to facilitate those resources. First in the Program Directors, all four of whom have lived in the region, and in the case of Heather and Jim collectively for more than 30 years. Second, in the Egyptians whom you will meet, and whom you will find strikingly friendly, helpful and generous. And thirdly in  each other – lasting friendships are made through this program.

The program runs every other spring semester. The next time it will be offered is Spring 2025. For more information, email ocp@westmont.edu.


Satisfies GE: Thinking Historically, major/minor credit in History or Religious Studies

You and your fellow students will study the historical, textual, and cultural foundations of Islam and then compare these with the living reality of Egyptian, Turkish and Palestinian societies. You will spend most of the semester in Egypt, a country that is 90% Muslim and, in many eyes, the center of Sunni Islam. You will also visit Palestine and Turkey, two other majority Muslim countries, to give you some broader feel for Islam in practice.

You and your fellow students will engage with the Egyptian church, both current and past. You will study the evolution of Christianity from an opposition movement to the religion of empire, and thence to protected, subordinate and marginalized minority. Attention will be given to the interaction between theological developments and cultural and political developments. You will learn more about the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. Through meeting with different Christians living in the Middle East today you will be challenged to consider afresh what it means to be a part of the global body of Christ.

Satisfies GE: Understanding Society, GE: Communicating Cross Culturally and major credit History International Track

You and your fellow students will study the modern history of Egypt: its transition from a Kingdom occupied by Britain into an independent nation state. You will study what it means to be a modern nation, and how a nation simultaneously lives out and fails to live up to its values and its identity before, during and after a revolution.

Satisfies GE: Thinking Globally, major/minor credit Political Science, and major credit History International Track

You and your fellow students will study some of the dramatic political changes in the Middle East which have taken place since 2011 and will consider if the “Arab Spring" is or is not an appropriate name for these changes. You will study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of both Israelis and Palestinians. We will ask together where we can find hope for peace, what we can learn about the struggle for influence and resources in the region, and what this may mean for us as Americans and Christians.

Satisfies GE: Foreign Language, major credit History International Track, and major credit Political Science International Security & Development Track

You will study Arabic throughout our time in Cairo, both in a formal class room setting and through daily opportunities to practice.

We will also offer second semester Arabic II on your return to Westmont, which may be of particular interest to Political Science and History majors on the international track.


Program Costs

The cost of the program will be standard Westmont tuition, fees, room and board. There is no program fee, but you will be responsible for the cost of round trip airfare from the USA to Egypt. 

Students are allowed to apply their financial aid awards from the college—both need-based and merit-based awards—toward the program’s cost.


  • Class standing
  • GPA (minimum 2.3 gpa)
  • Application and essays
  • Personal and faculty recommendations


In addition to the general qualifications above, the following are requirements that must be met, with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to complete all essential elements of the program. All participants must be able to:

  • Tolerate local diet with limited control over food choices in most locations.
  • Anticipate possible exposure to peanut or other food allergens.
  • Anticipate respiratory challenges in Cairo due to the high atmospheric pollution levels.
  • Navigate multiple irregular surfaces and walk/travel up to 5 miles in a day independently. (Extensive walking, as well as travel throughout ancient cities and towns with narrow passageways and many stairs, is part of the daily life of the program.)
  • Navigate carrying personal items including suitcase and/or backpack without assistance.
  • Anticipate having sufficient emotional wellness to fully participate in the program safely and successfully despite the limited availability of frequent access to psychological services.
  • Anticipate at least double occupancy accommodations on some if not all locations.
  • Receive the final dose of the Covid vaccine at least two weeks prior to the commencement of the program. 


No longer accepting applications for Spring 2023. For more information about the program, contact Professor Jim Wright at jwright@westmont.edu.