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Bringing changes to Cairo

How has the Egyptian revolution affected students on Grounds and abroad?

January 2011 marked the beginning of a revolution in Egypt, the effects of which were felt across countries' generations, and different groups abroad and on Grounds.\nThe revolution culminated in the resignation of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. During the past month "a real popular revolution resulting in the ouster of a very disliked regime," occurred in Egypt, Politics Prof. William Quandt said in an e-mail.

The ramifications of the revolution in Egypt have been felt across the Middle East as well as in the United States. "The change is exactly like a tsunami - it's going to affect the entire region," Arabic Lecturer Miled Faiza said.

Safety during the revolution\nApart from the early days of the strike, most non-Egyptians currently living in Egypt have remained safe. "We had a pretty bad experience of it for about 48 to 72 hours when the state media was accusing foreigners and journalists of initiating violence, but other than that things have been safe for us," Thomas Plofchan, a University alumnus pursuing a master's degree in Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo, said in an e-mail.

Things have started to return to normal after classes were cancelled and schools were closed. "My school started classes again for undergrads on [Feb. 13], and my grad classes start [Feb. 20]," Plofchan said. "Granted, this is three weeks late, so my spring break is cancelled and my summer plans are slightly derailed, but all things considered that's really not a big deal."

Students at the University discovered there were tanks on the streets of their old neighborhoods, but some areas were safer than others. Third-year Commerce student Ahmed Sarhan, an American-Egyptian member of the Middle East Leadership Committee at the University, has family living in Egypt. "[Safety] varied drastically depending on the area you were in," Sarhan said. "In the far suburbs, where I lived, it was slightly better. There were tanks right outside our neighborhood on the main street."

University students who have remained in Cairo have been controlled by a daily curfew and their school term was delayed. "As far as I know the two [University students] that are still in Egypt did not leave Cairo, and their mobility within Cairo was restricted due to the daily curfew and the advice to avoid demonstration areas," said Marina Markot, the University's associate director for study abroad. "The semester at the American University of Cairo - the school our students are attending on an exchange - was delayed for two weeks."

Some University students studying abroad were restricted to their dorms, said third-year College student Christine Clark, who was studying abroad in Cairo during the protests. "While I was actually in Egypt, my travel was somewhat restricted. On one of the first days of protests, the dorm staff requested that we remain on the island of Zamalek [where the dorms are]," Clark said in an e-mail.

However, University students who stayed behind in Cairo stated although there is a curfew, it is not strictly enforced. "The curfew is currently at 12 midnight and most people follow it now that military is in charge, although it's still not really enforced. I would say as a whole, movement has not really been restricted at all here in Cairo," Cody Lewis, a University student studying abroad at the American University in Cairo, said in an e-mail.

University students studying abroad maintained Cairo has been conflict-free. "The current climate is definitely safe," Lewis said. "The protests were mostly isolated to the downtown area of Cairo where Tahrir is located. The press just made it look like ... the whole city was up in flames when it really wasn't."

Two of the four University students studying in Cairo chose to leave since the beginning of the protests, Markot said. Clark, one of those students, was in Egypt during the beginning of the revolution and was evacuated Feb. 2. Clark flew to Scotland to continue her study abroad experience at the University of St. Andrew's.

Because of the travel warning released by the U.S. government, University programs operating in Egypt have been discontinued for the fall semester. Students who want to travel to Egypt, however, are still able to attend a school not affiliated with the University.

The volatile political climate also forced the American government to evacuate U.S. personnel.

The family of first-year College student Eli Morin was evacuated from Cairo Feb. 1. His family spent 12 hours in the airport as it waited for its flight, while watching military jets flying into the airport. Morin said his father is returning to Cairo this week, however, after only one week of a 30-day evacuation term.

"From the American government perspective, yes, [the evacuation] was absolutely necessary," Plofchan said. "There were (and are) simply too many uncertainties to account for and the government and Embassy made the right call, in my opinion, in planning to get as many people out as possible while they still knew they could."

Students protest with the masses\nUniversity students who remained in Egypt studying abroad took part in the protests, emboldened by the genuine nature of the Egyptian struggle for democracy.

"Their graciousness was sincere, and their sincerity is what kept us there day after day right alongside them," Lewis said. "Being a part of it was such an eye-opening, empowering experience. That's why I couldn't leave."

Lewis said the protests became particularly intense Jan. 28. "My friend and I went out and there were hoards of people marching towards Tahrir Square," she said. "As they got closer and closer to the police, dozens of tear gas canisters were shot into the crowds ... and my friend and I were right in the thick of it."

Clark also took part in the protests. "I went one day in the morning before protests had really gotten going and I don't regret it for a moment," she said.

The protests stretched from Tahrir to Zamalek, Clark said. "We were walking south towards the tower [Cairo Tower on the southern part of the island] after having left the caf

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