The family of a 21-year-old 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, Maryland,was stabbed in the chest by a protester while photographing battles between supporters and opponents of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Alexandria on Friday.
Pochter was working in Egypt as an intern for AMIDEAST, an American non-profit education organization, teaching English to seven and eight-year-olds.
'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,' his family's the statement 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.
She said they last spoke a few days ago.
'He really wanted to broaden people's perspective, especially in America,' she said.
'He wanted people to see places the way he saw them.'
The U.S. State Department has issued a warning advising Americans to defer nonessential travel to Egypt because of the continuing violence there.
‘We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,’ a department spokeswoman said, adding that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs were providing ‘appropriate consular assistance.’
A message posted on a Facebook page titled ‘R.I.P Andrew Driscoll Pochter,’ stated:
‘He was looking forward to returning to Kenyon College for his junior year and to spending his spring semester in Jordan.'
According to Pochter’s relatives, the young college student was an innocent bystander who was stabbed by a protester during the unrest.
‘He went to Egypt because he cared profoundly about the Middle East, and he planned to live and work there in the pursuit of peace and understanding,’ the post said. ‘Andrew was a wonderful young man looking for new experiences in the world and finding ways to share his talents while he learned.’
Described by those who knew him as an idealistic young man, Pochter had served as a student leader of Kanyon colleges' campus Jewish organization, Hillel, according to student newspaper The Kenyon Collegian.