WASHINGTON - The family of an American college student killed in Egypt during violent protests says their son cared passionately about the Middle East and was in the country to teach English to children and to improve his own Arabic.
Andrew Pochter of Chevy Chase, Md., was killed Friday in Alexandria during clashes between government supporters and opponents. His family said Saturday that he was stabbed by a protester while observing the demonstrations.
"He went to Egypt because he cared profoundly about the Middle East. He had studied in the region, loved the culture, and planned to live and work there in the pursuit of peace and understanding," the statement said.
The country has been roiled by ongoing demonstrations between protesters trying to oust President Mohammed Morsi and Islamists seeking to keep him in power. The U.S. State Department has warned Americans against all but essential travel, and households have been stocking up on goods in case the protests drag on.
The 21-year-old spent his spring semester studying in Amman, Jordan, as part of the AMIDEAST Education Abroad Program and was teaching in Egypt before returning in the fall to Kenyon College in Ohio. He majored in religious studies, was active in Hillel House - the campus center for Jewish life - and was a member of the rugby club and an organizer for the Middle Eastern Students Association, the college said.
Meryn Chimes, a New York University student who said she was a friend of Pochter, recalled how he traveled to Morocco between high school and college and sent her excited letters about how much he loved it there.
"When he came back, he just had this passion for the Middle East," she said.