Student From Md. Killed in Egypt Planned to Work for Peace in Region

Andrew Pochter, 21, died Friday during clashes

Sunday, Jun 30, 2013  |  Updated 9:02 AM PDT
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Andrew Pochter, of Chevy Chase, Md., was killed in Egypt in a skirmish Friday. Pochter, 21, was a rising junior at Kenyon College.

Andrew Pochter, of Chevy Chase, Md., was killed in Egypt in a skirmish Friday. Pochter, 21, was a rising junior at Kenyon College.

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A college student from Chevy Chase, Md., killed during skirmishes Friday in Alexandria, Egypt, was remembered Sunday as a young man who rooted for the underdog and was interested in both sides of religious conflict.

"Andrew D. Pochter lost his life in the Middle East while on a quest for knowledge and understanding," read an obit published by Kenyon College, where Pochter was a rising junior and religious studies major.

Pochter, 21, was fatally stabbed while watching a protest as a bystander, his family said in a statement Saturday.

Gen. Amin Ezzeddin, a senior security official in Alexandria, told Reuters that Pochter had been taking photos with a phone camera near an office of President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood as it was being ransacked by protesters.

Pochter died at a military hospital.

"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 statement read in part. "Andrew was a wonderful young man looking for new experiences in the world and finding ways to share his talents while he learned."

 

He had been in Egypt to teach English to 7- and 8-year-olds and to improve his Arabic, his family said. He was an intern at AMIDEAST, a U.S nonprofit focused on education, job training and development in the Middle East and North Africa, Kenyon College said in a statement.

His AMIDEAST internship was not affiliated with Kenyon, a liberal arts college in Gambier, Ohio.

"He was one of the rare kids who lived what he believed," said Marc Bragin, Hillel director and Jewish chaplain at Kenyon, in the obituary published late Saturday. "His belief was that everyone should be included, everyone had a voice, and no one should be left out because what they think is different than what others think."

Pochter was raised as a Christian in a home with Christian and Jewish parents, and had become interested in his Jewish heritage, his mother said in the obituary. Pochter was co-manager of the campus' Hillel House, where he had lived during his sophomore year, and was a member of Kenyon's Middle Eastern Students Association.

The obituary said Pochter had planned to spend the spring semester studying in Amman, Jordan, as part of the AMIDEAST Education Abroad Program.

He wanted to learn more Arabic, and had "hopes to develop 'life-long ties ... with Arab-speaking friends,' " the obituary read.

Mark Ellis, news director at Kenyon, told NBC News that the college is working with Pochter's family and friends to plan a memorial service to be held this fall.

Two years ago, he wrote about his experience living with a host family in Morocco in an article published on the Al Arabiya news web site, discussing the effect of the Arab Spring on the family and in the community as a whole.

"Neighbors are re-connecting with old neighbors by marching together; strangers are finding common ground; and average citizens are realizing their true potentials in the real world," Pochter wrote. "...By their participation in community protests, members of my host family and friends are trying to reinvent themselves as members of their society and changing how the rest of the world perceives them."

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