February 1, 2011

U of C students in Cairo evacuated to Paris

Update: All students studying in Cairo have arrived in Paris as of Tuesday morning, according to Martha Merritt.

Amid protests, political unrest, and panicked foreigners in overcrowded airports, the University has successfully evacuated all undergraduate students and faculty from the College’s Middle Eastern Civilizations program in Cairo, according to study abroad director Martha Merritt.

In line with the U.S. State Department’s rush to get citizens out of the unstable country, the University has chosen to relocate members of the Cairo program to its center in Paris.

“Half of the students are already in Paris; some are spending the night in Athens en route to Paris; and one student was in transit to Germany as of earlier today,” said Merritt in an email. “The Office of Study Abroad thanks its worldwide community for coming together to help speed these 18 UChicago citizens to our campus in Europe.”

Personnel at the Oriental Institute’s Chicago House in Luxor, about 300 miles south of Cairo, have remained behind, according to University spokesman Jeremy Manier.“Events in Cairo warranted immediate steps to ensure the safety of our community members. We continue to monitor the situation in Luxor, where the University has maintained a presence since 1924,” he said.

According to Manier, the area surrounding Chicago House has been stable in the last few days, and program directors have maintained contact with local authorities to ensure the Institute’s safety.

After days of worrying, Yulissa Villasenor said that her family was notified Sunday that her sister, second-year Isamar Villasenor, had arrived safely in Paris.

“We know that she was in an unsecure environment because of the protesters in Cairo. There were gunshots and killings,” said Villasenor in an email. “My sister was on her way to the beach with a group of U of C students and the U.S. embassy picked her up along with the group of students.”

Upon arriving in Paris, students took to Facebook to update friends concerning their safety and whereabouts.

Fourth-year Mark Redmond posted Sunday evening: “Thx for thoughts and concerns. I am in Paris and doing well. No luggage.” At 9 a.m. yesterday morning he updated again: “The Cairo 9 should be reunited with us tomorrow. Inshallah.”