I may or may not have mentioned this previously, but my 19-year-old son, Dylan, who is a sophomore at Syracuse University chose to study abroad this year. He changed his major to International relations, Public Policy with a concentration in the Mid-East, and transfered to the American University in Cairo, Egypt for the year. He spent his first semester there, traveling around a bit during his off days (to Dubai — where he went “snow” skiing, indoors, in a mall. to Istanbul, and to some other places.)
During the Winter break, he went to Israel to visit his mother’s cousins who are living there (and made a surprise visit home to see us for two weeks, before returning to Israel to travel around a bit more). Upon returning to Egypt just before the start of school, something, ah “interesting” happened. If you’ve been watching the news you have some inkling of what that is.
Well, if you need me to draw you a map, the people of Egypt (who have been under an oppressive regime for the past 30 years) began to demand that their president, Hosni Mubarak, step down and allow for free, democratic elections. The took to the street in a series of ever-escalating demonstrations that, well, ultimately resulted in riots and, well, turn on your TV. Now you see, my son is a Poli-Sci major, and he’s been studying, and writing about this very thing for some four months, and now he is witnessing it happen all around him. Want to guess what he did?
Yep, that’s right. He and a few friends left the relative security of the Dorm and went downtown to (as it turns out) another friend’s apartment about a block away from where the demonstrations were taking place. Which they used as a base for the next several days as they witnessed this history-in-the-making event…
…from street level.
Yeah, that’s right, they left the apartment to wander around the streets of Cairo to witness first-hand what was going on in the city. The took pictures, they talked to people and witnessed the world around them change.
After a couple of days of this, and with the violence level rising (the Internet and cell phones turned off) the school first delayed the start of school then finally canceled it altogether and pulled their respective students out. Dylan and his buddies finally got the hint, headed back to their dorm, grabbed what gear they could carry, and caught a University bus to the airport where they were given VIP status, moved to the head of the line and evaced on the first plane outta Dodge.
They wound up in Istanbul (where he is as I write this), as they planned their next step. All of the kids made arrangements to transfer to other overseas universities to finish out the year (where Dylan is going is still a bit up in the air, more as we know). Still, he is safe and we’ve spoken to him a number of times.
Oh yeah, while he was ther he was interviewed by the NY Times, the BBC and some freelancer who works for the Village Voice and Rolling Stone. Some of his pictures wound up on the BBC article while others wound up in the blog of the mother of one of his friends. Here is a link for more.
The opening pictures in this post are from last semester, the last three are from the last couple of days.
Yes, I’m glad he is safe, yes I’m glad he was there, yes I’m glad he is safe, and right about now, I need a drink. Who’s buying?