Travel Program: AMIDEAST
June 28, 2013
Andrew Pochter, a 21-year-old American student from Kenyon College in Gamier, Ohio, was killed during a street protest in Alexandria, Egypt on June 28, 2013. Andrew was stabbed in the chest in a political protest over the country’s president, Mohamed Morsi. He was pronounced dead at a military hospital shortly after, the New York Times article reported.
Andrew left for Egypt on May 28, 2013 and planned to stay there for three months. He was an intern at AMIDEAST, an American non-profit organization working in international education, training and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa. “The AMIDEAST internship is not a Kenyon program,” Kenyon’s website reported.
The same day that Andrew died, the United States Department of State put up a warning Friday on their website. The warning told U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Egypt to “defer non-essential travel to Egypt at this time due to the continuing possibility of political and social unrest.” The warning also “strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse.”
Andrew was living in an Egyptian home and teaching English to Egyptian children. Other cultures and languages fascinated him. Andrew was planning on studying in Jordan after his time in Egypt to become fluent in Arabic and to gain a better understanding of the political and religious dynamics of the Middle East.
“As we understand it, he was witnessing a protest as a bystander and was stabbed by a protester. He went to Egypt because he cared profoundly about the Middle East and he planned to live and work there in the pursuit of peace and understanding,” the family said in a statement. “Andrew was a wonderful young man looking for new experiences in the world and finding ways to share his talents while he learned.”
A religious studies major, Andrew was co-manager of Hillel House and was a member of the Middle East Students Association, according to the Kenyon College’s tribute to Andrew on their website. He was also the philanthropy chair for his fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi.
“He was one of the rare kids who lived what he believed,” said Marc Bragin, Hillel director and Jewish chaplain at Kenyon. “His belief was that everyone should be included, everyone had a voice and no one should be left out because what they think is different than what others think.”
Kenyon President S. Georgia Nugent said in a statement, “It is always a tragedy for a young person to lose his or her life prematurely. Andrew’s death is especially troubling, resulting as it did from the political violence that plagues our world today. As I step down from the presidency of the College tomorrow, I can only hope that Andrew’s loss will lead members of the Kenyon community to re-dedicate themselves to seeking and fostering peace in whatever ways they can.”
Sheryl Hill, founder of ClearCause, remarked on ABC News’ video reporting Andrew’s death. She said, “Students don’t need to be placed in the midst of study abroad opportunities and civil unrest. There are more prudent methods to shape peace. Naive study abroad program directors should put their kids out front first.”