A group of Columbia students studying in Egypt returned to New York City Tuesday after evacuating the country, which has been consumed by anti-government protests.
The students had been taking part in the Amheida project, a New York University-sponsored program which allows students to participate in the excavation of the ancient city of Amheida. According to Roger Bagnall, the project’s director, all of the students were evacuated to Dubai on Monday, and flew out of Dubai early Tuesday morning.
“The Columbia and Barnard students in this year’s program all came back with me on the flight,” Bagnall said.
One of the students evacuated, Jennifer Altman-Lupu, BC ’12, described the evacuation on her blog.
“Although we weren’t in any present danger, they [NYU] were worried that the situation would change in such a way that would make it impossible to get us out in the future,” Altman-Lupu wrote on Tuesday.
Bree Doering, BC ‘12, Julianne Maeda, BC ‘12, Roxanne Moadel-Attie, BC ‘12, Sofia Pacheco-Fores, CC ‘12, Wendy Rose, CC ‘12, and Emma Spencer, CC ‘12, were also on the Amheida trip, and returned with the group today.
Caitlin Burk, CC ’12, who was studying at the American University in Cairo, and Dexter Thompson-Pomeroy, CC ’12, who was studying at Middlebury College’s Arabic program at Alexandria University, also left Egypt.
Thompson-Pomeroy had been evacuated to Greece, according to his friend Sierra Kuzava, CC ’12, a Spectator copy staffer. Burk said in a Facebook post that she was in Paris on Tuesday night but would be returning to Columbia today.
The ongoing protests against Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president of 30 years, have been largely nonviolent but have caused chaos throughout the country. Mubarak announced on Tuesday that he would not run for another term, but protestors continue to demand his resignation.
University spokesperson Robert Hornsby said Monday that at least seven students and one faculty member were in the process of being evacuated from Egypt, adding that multiple University offices were arranging transportation out of the country for students not already being evacuated by Columbia affiliates.
Amheida project students will live in NYU housing as they continue the program there, Bagnall said. He said that students will stay in hotels until that housing is ready within the next day or two.
Pacheco-Fores’ close friend Sofia Cecchi, CC ’11, heard from Pacheco-Fores that the students had to fly home from Dubai because it was too difficult to get a flight out of Egypt.
“Sofia told me today, since everyone wants to leave the country right now, getting airplanes, it’s not the easiest thing at the moment,” Cecchi said.
Altman-Lupu wrote on her blog that the group woke up in Egypt at 5 a.m. and were told to prepare for a six-hour bus ride to the Egyptian city of Assiut.
“We had a full police brigade with us, but we never actually needed to utilize it,” Altman-Lupu wrote.
From Assiut, the group took a short flight to Dubai, which, students report, was chartered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Cristina Ramos, CC ’12, a friend of Maeda and Rose, said the group flew out of Dubai International Airport via Emirates Airlines.
“Needless to say, all their family and friends are so happy and relieved … myself included,” Ramos said. “It’s been a scary couple of days.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Caitlin Burk's name and misstated Dexter Thompson-Pomeroy's class year. Spectator regrets the error.