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Requiem for a Peacemaker
Andrew Pochter was a young idealist from Chevy Chase eager to work toward world peace. But in one horrific afternoon, he would be swept away in an uncontrollable tide of anger in Egypt.
BY KATHLEEN WHEATON
In retrospect, the email Elizabeth Pochter wrote to her 21-year-old son, Andrew, last June seems to have been prescient. But at the time, it was the typical injunction of a worried parent.
“I trust that you will not go anywhere near the demonstrations this weekend,” the Chevy Chase resident wrote of the anti-government protests slated to take place in Alexandria, Egypt. “There is bound to be violence.”
A rising junior at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, Andrew was a summer intern in the Alexandria office of AMIDEAST, an educational nonprofit that had hired him to teach English to 7- and 8-year-olds. He liked the job and was good with children—he’d been a camp counselor for years. But the main reason he wanted to be in Egypt that summer was to improve his Arabic.
“We don’t have work those days, so I’ll be inside,” Andrew replied. “No need to worry.”
Liz and her husband, Ted, were trying not to worry. When Andrew had accepted the job withAMIDEAST, they’d told themselves that at least he wouldn’t be in Cairo, where demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government had grown in size and intensity throughout the spring of 2013. Alexandria, a Mediterranean port city long popular with tourists, appeared relatively calm. The Pochters also realized that they’d better get used to living with a certain amount of anxiety. Andrew, who was majoring in religious studies, wanted to pursue a career working toward peace in the Middle East.
In his email, Andrew wrote that his laptop wasn’t running properly, and since there wasn’t an Apple store in Alexandria, he’d have to rely on office computers to stay in touch from then on. But “I’m safe. Don’t worry!” he repeated.
It was his last email to his parents, dated June 25. Three days later, he would be dead.
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