Connor Murphy will have to wait to visit Egypt. The high school senior's field trip to Egypt was canceled Sunday evening. "It's disappointing," said Connor, a fourth year Arabic student at Center for Global Studies who had put off the trip until his last year of high school. "I wanted to make sure I had enough Arabic under my belt."
Murphy is one of 15 students from CGS who were scheduled to leave for Cairo on Feb. 7. In the last week, however, tens of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets of major Egyptian cities in anti-governments protests, calling for their president to step down. There have been reports of violence, rioting and clashes between civilians and police.
A group of parents, students and administrators met Sunday evening at Brien McMahon. Earlier in the day, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert telling US citizens to avoid travel to Egypt. "We canceled the trip. There was no questioning the decision," global studies Director Roslynne McCarthy said after the meeting. "The kids and their parents have been watching the events unfold on CNN and BBC."
McCarthy is surprised by how quickly the protests grew.
"We are all really stunned at how quickly things have escalated," she said. "Just last week, we were meeting and thought we were going. But given the recent events, the decision was made for us."
Though disappointed, Murphy understands. "I've been following the news ever since the uprising started," he says. "It was inevitable."
Murphy's goal is to work for the U.S. State Department and be stationed in the Middle East. "I plan on making trips to the Middle East in future, so I'm not too heartbroken," he says.
McCarthy said that she work with the group's travel agent to try to recoup the students' deposits. "I hope to get a good portion back." The Board of Education is scheduled to discuss the trip at its Tuesday meeting, said Assistant Superintendent Tony Dadonna, who attended the Sunday meeting.
McCarthy says several students had already made contact with their Egyptian host families through Facebook. "There is a personal connection now. The kids and parents are saying, 'Now we have friends in Egypt. We are praying for their safety.'"
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