This morning, Georgetown University officials held a videoconference with the 15 students evacuated from Cairo, Egypt to Doha, Qatar yesterday.
During the conversation, President John DeGioia thanked Rocco DelMonaco, vice president for university safety, who is currently in Doha helping with the evacuation, for helping to organize a successful evacuation. DelMonaco noted prior to the students being brought in to the meeting that all of them had gone through a debriefing with University officials.
As the students arrived, DeGioia said how happy he was to see all of them and that “getting you to a place where we could do this was our first priority for the past few days.”
“It was not an easy decision, but we were guided by the State Department,” DeGioia told the students, noting that the official decision to evacuate the students came at noon on Sunday.
DeGioia, along with Provost James O’Donnell, also thanked a number of Georgetown administrators for their dedication to the evacuation, notably Director of the Office of International Programs Kathy Bellows and Overseas Studies Director Laurie Monarch.
“This is bittersweet,” Bellows noted, continuing, “You are a part of history.”
Although the University currently has not finalized its plans for the options that the students have for the remainder of the semester, the students had nothing but praise for how Georgetown handled the situation.
Jennifer Chau (’12) said that other students that she knew at the American University of Cairo were shocked to hear that Georgetown students were getting out on a confirmed flight—the others went to the airport in hopes of getting on a State Department-chartered plane out of the country.
Although the students were kept away from the majority of the protests, the side effects of the protests were evident for them during the entire time. A number of students mentioned that they could feel minor effects of the teargas, even though they were a significant distance from the protests.
AJ Betts (’12) said that the day before they left—because they were still not certain whether or not they would be leaving—he and Rich Rinaldi (’12) headed to the grocery store two blocks away, the whole time carrying a rock in case there was any violence.
During the chaotic time after the Internet and a few other forms of communication were shut off, the students were able to make contact with their families through landline telephone calls. AUC bought out a store’s worth of calling cards and each student was given approximately a minute to just let their families know they were alright.
The fifteen students differ on whether or not they would like to come back to the United States right now or remain in the Middle East, though they all made it clear that “graduating on time would be nice.”
Despite the ordeal they went through, all of them said that the most important thing to do now is to get the word out about the people of Egypt and what is happening to them.
“Get on Facebook and Twitter and discuss this [March of Millions],” Melissa Mannis (’12) urged. “There are people being beaten just for holding up a peace sign and cheering for their country.