An uncertain situation for study abroad in Egypt
Administrators of American study abroad programs are closely watching the uprising against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to determine whether they can safely continue their programming in Egypt or whether the country they only recently returned to will become a no-go zone once again. A student at Kenyon College who was in Alexandria on a summer internship teaching English to children was fatally stabbed on Friday while observing a protest.
“I think there are a couple of reasons for that. One is the last time this happened it was February, so it was the middle of the spring semester when there were certainly more students involved," she said, noting that many of the students there in the summer are likely graduate students conducting research. "There’s generally a greater tolerance of risk and a little bit of latitude given to graduate students, but even with the undergraduate programs, we all got schooled [in 2011] about how to be prepared for these situations.”
"Because the flights are already operating close to capacity, trying to get people out through commercial air in some of these situations might not be a viable option, so if your [insurance] provider is authorizing an evacuation, they're either doing it by buying up seats for you on commercial air or they’re chartering an aircraft," she said. "But if their take is this is going to blow over and they're not in this case conferring the benefits, as they would say, it’s up to us to be ready to shelter in place. I would say that institutions are a lot better-prepared and they’ve been better at preparing their students or their faculty or staff to manage these situations.”
The American University in Cairo's Tahrir Square campus will remain closed Tuesday, but its new campus on the outskirts of Cairo (in “New Cairo”) will be open for a half-day, until 1 p.m. AUC reports that it has 95 American students registered this summer and that none have asked to be evacuated (and their parents haven't asked either).
However, Kara Amoratis, the global operations coordinator and international risk analyst for Pennsylvania State University, said that two Penn State students enrolled at AUC this summer have flown home of their own accord, having successfully booked passage on commercial flights. Amoratis said that a student who is planning to go to Egypt in the fall will now be required to petition to attend the program given that the State Department travel warning is in place. (Many institutions prohibit study abroad to countries with State Department travel warnings, although some have a process in place through which exemptions can be requested.)
“It’s just a shame that this is happening again," Amoratis said. "It’s one place that I feel like it’s important for people to be able to travel to and we’re at this place again we’re saying, 'Can we really send them there?' "