Violent protests in Egypt cut short study abroad trips
Students safe, but taking extra precautions
Published: Friday, January 28, 2011
Updated: Friday, January 28, 2011 17:01
Two study abroad trips to Egypt will be cut short due to political turmoil in the country, officials said Friday afternoon.
The students are taking extra precautions, but remain safe, said Lesa Griffiths, director of the university's Center for International Studies.
The 10 students on a black American studies and psychology trip to Cairo and the 12 students on a leadership trip to Alexandria will leave the country within three days. Both groups were originally scheduled to stay in the country until Thursday.
Protests against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak broke out in Cairo, the capital of Egypt, early Friday. Demonstrators and police are engaged in violent clashes in the streets, and parts of the city are in flames, according to The New York Times. Mubarek mobilized the military and imposed a nighttime curfew.
Protests have also been reported in Alexandria and several other cities.
Griffiths said the BAMS/PSYC students are staying in their residence halls on American University's campus outside of Cairo.
"They're under voluntary lockdown with plenty of security and are very safe," Griffiths said.
Communication with the group has been difficult since the protests began, she said, but Yasser Payne, the professor leading the trip, was able to get in contact with the American embassy, which contacted university officials.
Griffiths said her office contacted Payne on Wednesday to warn him of the planned protests. Payne changed his schedule to keep students out of the heart of the city.
The students of the LEAD trip, headed by professor Audrey Helfman, were already scheduled to have a free weekend, so they are not in Alexandria.
Study abroad officials in Newark spent the day scrambling to book earlier flights for the students. The BAMS/PSYC students will fly out of Cairo on Sunday morning. The LEAD students will depart Monday, but officials have not yet determined whether they will travel to the airport in Cairo or leave directly from Alexandria.
Because many of the flights leave early in the morning, the nighttime curfew may make travel out of the country more difficult, Griffiths said.
Officials are keeping parents of the affected students informed through e-mail.