The two Brown students studying abroad in Alexandria, Egypt through a Middlebury College program are safe after being evacuated from Alexandria's Borg el Arab airport to Prague late Monday night. Program administrators decided to pull participating students, including Michael Dawkins '12 and Amanda Labora '12, out of Egypt due to ongoing civilian protests against President Hosni Mubarak.
All the students on the program — a Brown-approved alternate study-abroad program — are safe and accounted for, though likely a bit "tired and anxious," said Michael Geisler, vice president for language schools, schools abroad and graduate programs at Middlebury.
Labora's mother, Deborah White-Labora, told local NBC news program WHDH-TV Jan. 31 that she spoke to her daughter last weekend. "She said, ‘We're not safe here. We're not safe,'" White-Labora said in the television report. "It was pretty scary to hear that and to hear for the first time the fear in her voice."
Though Middlebury initially planned to use a transport provider that would fly the students through Athens, the program also had a back-up plan in place to connect through Prague if the option would result in a more rapid evacuation, Geisler said. As the faster option, students were evacuated to Prague using the Boston-based Global Rescue transport service, which provides medical and security evacuations for its members.
The students will likely remain in Prague for one or two nights before Middlebury makes arrangements to bring the group back to the United States. The students will also have the option of making travel plans with their families but will have to keep Middlebury personnel aware of their plans to ensure all students get home safely, Geisler said.
Once back in the U.S., students will have several academic options because the program in Egypt has been cancelled for the semester. Geisler said these options include a refund for the program, taking part in a "rich, cultural" summer language program or enrolling at Middlebury this semester since the school year is already underway at many of the students' home institutions. Middlebury resumes its spring term classes Feb. 7.