UC alumni react to suspension of Cairo study abroad program

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Due to the recent turmoil in Egypt after the oust of former President Mohamed Morsi, UC Berkeley will suspend its fall study abroad program in Cairo.

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UC alumni have expressed mixed reactions regarding the University of California’s suspension of the fall semester study abroad program in Cairo due to violence resulting from the recent regime change.

On July 8, the university decided to suspend the program until the situation in Egypt is no longer considered dangerous, possibly the spring semester of 2014. Twenty-two UC students and one UC faculty member director were planning to spend the fall semester in Egypt at the American University in Cairo. Most will be redirected to other programs, including programs located in Israel, Morocco, Turkey and Jordan.

UC Berkeley alumna Ali Glenesk, who studied in Cairo from 2008 to 2009, said her experience in Egypt was valuable and urges other students to study in the Middle East even though many consider it too dangerous to visit.

“The suspension of this EAP program represents a great loss of opportunity for UC students,” Glenesk said. “I’d encourage all students who can to still find a way to study and learn in the Middle East.”

The university has already accepted applications for the spring semester in Cairo, but it remains unclear if it will be safe enough for students to attend, according to the office of the UC Education Abroad Program.

The U.S. Department of State recently reissued a travel warning for Egypt in response to instability and violence that started after Mohamed Morsi was deposed as president.

Earlier this month, UC Berkeley asked its students in Egypt to evacuate. The students were registered with the university’s travel insurance program, which covers students in the case of a variety of accidents or incidents while traveling. According to UC Berkeley risk manager Andrew Goldblatt, the students are not in any immediate danger but are being evacuated to completely ensure their safety.

Similar cancellations occurred in 2011 during the Egyptian Revolution. The university relocated 21 students from Cairo by evacuating students directly from their apartments to a charter flight.

Justin Hinton, a UC Berkeley alumnus of the study abroad program in Egypt who studied there from 2010 to 2011, witnessed the 2011 revolution firsthand. On Jan. 26, 2011, Hinton went with a friend to Tahrir Square.

“You could feel the intensity — that at any moment violence would erupt,” Hinton said. “Shortly after, it did. Batons from the military or the police came crashing down.”

Hinton said he felt safe the entire time and wanted to stay but understood why the evacuation was necessary.

“You never know what could happen,” he said. “My program was suspended indefinitely, and it was back open next fall, so you never know how things will change.”

Contact Madeleine Pauker at [email protected]

A previous version of this article misquoted Doerr as saying that UCEAP does not operate in travel-warning countries. In fact, UCEAP does operate in some travel-warning countries, including Mexico and Israel.

A previous version of this article also misquoted Doerr as saying that most other universities have also suspended their Egyptian study abroad programs. In fact, Doerr did not say this.

A previous version of this article also incorrectly stated that Doerr said the university relocated 21 students from Cairo by evacuating students directly from their apartments to a charter flight. In fact, the UCEAP office stated this in a press release.