CofC study abroad course in Egypt moving forward for now

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Deadly anti-government protests in Egypt are now into week three. The protesters are demanding that President Hosni Hubarek step down immediately. President Barack Obama is now saying he supports a peaceful transition process as a new president takes over.

Now a study abroad program at College of Charleston, sending students to Egypt this summer, could be in limbo following the uproar.

Small reminders of Silvia Youssef Hanna's Egyptian heritage hang in her office at the CofC. The professor and student advisor once encouraged students to visit her birth country with the study abroad program.

"I would tell them Egypt, how beautiful it is. I've traveled there numerous times myself, seen archaeological digs, gone to museums, walked into pyramids, and it is extremely fascinating," Hanna said.

But for the past two weeks Hanna has watched news reports on Egypt's political uprising in horror. She has also heard first hand from family members there on Skype, about how they were forced to close their businesses and defend their homes.

"People were people climbing in through the windows. They only form of defense they had was to use kitchen knives. Because there's a lack of security in the neighborhoods, all the neighbors are coming down in front of their homes to protect their homes from looters coming in. It's very serious," Hanna said.

The study abroad course "Ancient Egypt through the Ages" was set for Maymester 2011 and includes a three week trip to the country. The course program director says at this point no formal decision on canceling the class has been made.

College students have differing opinions on whether they would go or not.

"Instead of just listening to media, you would get a first hand view of it. It would be interesting to try out," freshman JD Zeliff said.

"I probably wouldn't go if there were a still a big uproar going on over there," sophomore Charlotte Hass said.

Hanna says she hopes and prays that soon Egypt will again become a safe place for her family and safe place for students to learn.

"I would first consult family and loved ones in this decision. I wouldn't rule it out for the future," Hanna said.

This would be the first Egypt study abroad course with the Classics Department at CofC. It is open to 12 students, and the program director says hopefully there will be a decision within two weeks on whether or not to proceed with the study abroad course.

The CofC course would include visits all along the Nile Valley, including near the Sudanese border and middle Egypt, an area where the Muslim Brotherhood has maintained a strong presence.

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