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Becoming and Being a Missionary

On Monday, August 30, 1920, Dora Giffen and a party of American missionaries departed from New York aboard the RMS Pannonia bound for Naples. Upon their arrival, the group undertook some sightseeing around Naples, particularly at the ancient city of Pompeii (which was preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79). From there, they continued over land to Brindisi, Italy, where they took another sea journey on the Italian liner Montenegro to Egypt. The journey itself was well-documented, both through her letters and through photographs.

Upon her arrival, Dora Giffen had to begin the work of acclimating herself to the local culture so that she could assume her role as a teacher and missionary. This required, most especially, Arabic language study. Although Giffen was born in Egypt, she had left at a very young age, and there is no evidence that she had learned the language from family. Thus, she would have required extensive work to be proficient enough to teach and be self-sufficient. Giffen also appears to have taken a course on Islam, intended to familiarize missionaries in such a way that they might more effectively win over converts to Protestantism.