Originating from the Italian for “thin metal plate”, the piaster has been used as a term for a Spanish coin by Venetian traders living in the Levant in the 16th century. By the late 19th century, the term was adopted more broadly across the Middle East and is still used in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Sudan. In Egypt, a piaster is 1/100 of a guinea and a guinea is worth about 5.5 US cents, making a piaster worth .005 cents. I have never seen a piaster coin, rarely do you see a 25 piaster coin and when you have them, they are worth about as much as one chiclet. But why am I talking about Egypt? That’s where this blog started.
I began writing as a way to process and share some of my experiences during a year studying in Egypt on a Fulbright grant. If you look through the previous posts, you’ll see that it was quite a year, one filled with everything from a revolution to a crazy trip to the post office (neither of which I would want to experience again!). However, I left Egypt in 2011 and pursued a Masters Degree in Social Studies Education at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, after which I taught for 5 years between the Bronx and Harlem.
All of which brings me to Zanzibar, an island in East Africa off the coast of Tanzania where my wife and I will be spending the next year. We are here so that she can do research for her dissertation and I will be spending the time teaching History and Geography at the International School of Zanzibar. These blog entries will be from our year living and traveling around the area and will hopefully not include posts about either a revolution or a crazy trip to the post office :P