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Friday, July 5, 2013

Friend Remembers Andrew Pochter, American Student Killed In Egypt

Andrew Driscoll Pochter, who died while photographing clashes between opponents and supporters of President Mohamed Morsi in Alexandria, Egypt. (AP/Pochter Family)

Andrew Driscoll Pochter, who died while photographing clashes between opponents and supporters of President Mohamed Morsi in Alexandria, Egypt. (AP/Pochter Family)

The body of Andrew Pochter, the 21-year old American student stabbed to death during the uprising in Egypt, is scheduled to arrive in the United States from Egypt Friday.

U.S. officials are still trying to determine if Pochter was targeted or was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Meryn Chimes, a friend of Pochter, spoke of his work involvement in the region.

“Andrew had a passion for that area and those of his friends who are still there are continuing that passion and that would make him very happy,” she told Here & Now.

“Andrew saw the best in everyone and he wanted people to understand what was so wonderful about that part of the world.”

Pochter’s death has parents and universities wondering whether to cancel study abroad plans in the region, or to let students proceed.

Guest:

  • Meryn Chimes, friend of Andrew Pochter

Transcript

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

From NPR and WBUR Boston, it's HERE AND NOW. I'm Robin Young.

The body of 21-year-old Andrew Pochter has arrived back in the U.S. from Egypt. His funeral is scheduled for next week. He was the Kenyon College student spending a semester in Egypt studying Arabic and teaching English when he was stabbed to death last week in a violent protest. Afterwards, the state department suggested Americans not travel to Egypt. Schools like the University of Michigan are evacuating students, and parents are wondering whether to send their kids next week. But Andrew's death also sent friends and family reeling.

Meryn Chimes was a high school buddy in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She joins us from Washington, D.C. Meryn, this just has to be a shock. So sorry.

MERYN CHIMES: Thank you very much.

YOUNG: He seemed like such an incredible young man. Tell us about him.

CHIMES: Andrew was kind, intelligent. He was the kind of person that put everyone at ease.

YOUNG: What was his interest in Arabic?

CHIMES: Andrew loves languages. He'd already spoke French and knew some Spanish, and he wanted to really perfect his Arabic, so he took the gap year to Morocco. And he came back from Morocco with a real passion for the Middle East.

YOUNG: He studied Arabic there. He taught English there under a state department program and then to Egypt. You know, language is one thing, but these are hotspots. What was the pull for him?

CHIMES: Andrew was an explorer. He wanted to see the world. I think, he wanted to see beyond our comfy suburbs here in D.C. and see a world that was very different from our own. And I think by going to these places, he accomplished that, and he really loved the culture and the people and loved the language.

YOUNG: We understand he wanted to be a journalist?

CHIMES: Yeah. Andrew, I think, wanted to share that part of the world to people. He had dreams of bringing us closer, of fostering understanding, and I think that part of that understanding was, you know, he wanted to be a journalist to really teach people about the Middle East or to tell them about it. Andrew saw the best in everyone, and I think that he wanted people to understand what was so wonderful about that part of the world.

YOUNG: Well, you are an undergraduate, and you also spent time abroad in Berlin. What is the talk among friends and college students, obviously, first and foremost, I'm sure of the loss of Andrew? But are people wondering about whether or not to travel?

CHIMES: I think those of us who are Andrew's closest friends know that Andrew would never want us to question it. I think that he was fearless in his travel and would want us to travel and see the world to the best our ability. I know I'm personally only going to travel more, because I think that's what Andrew would want.

YOUNG: And we understand he had friends in Egypt in the same program.

CHIMES: Yes, I've spoken to his friend in Cairo.

YOUNG: What are they saying?

CHIMES: She's saying that if you're in the areas where there is protest, it is quite, you know, quite scary. But there are also areas where there isn't protests and you wouldn't know anything was going on.

YOUNG: Is she staying?

CHIMES: I believe she is staying. The last time I talked to her, she's flying back for the funeral and then she's planning on flying back to Cairo.

YOUNG: It sounds like that might be part of Andrew's legacy.

CHIMES: Yes. Andrew had a passion for that area of the world, and I think that, you know, those - his friends who are still there are continuing that passion. And I think that would make him very happy.

YOUNG: And, by the way, he was burnishing his own Arabic, but he was teaching young kids English.

CHIMES: Yes.

YOUNG: Did you ever get to talk to him about that?

CHIMES: Yeah, I did. I talked to him about now a week ago about his class. And he loves the students. He said they were having a bit of a hard time learning English, but he was very proud of them and they were really getting a handle on it. He was a great teacher. I have no doubt.

YOUNG: That's Meryn Chimes, a high school friend of the late Andrew Pochter. Meryn, again, sorry for your loss, and thanks for talking to us.

CHIMES: Thank you.

YOUNG: A terrible thing, but has it made you rethink studying abroad? Your thoughts at hereandnow.org. Back in a minute. HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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