An American TEFL teacher was killed on Friday during anti government violence in Egypt.
Andrew Pochter, 21, was killed near the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria which had earlier been set alight during violent clashes in the city. An Egyptian man was fatally shot during the same clashes with another man also killed.
Some reports say Pochter was shot whilst others say he was stabbed whilst taking photographs of the fighting.
Pochter was in Egypt as an intern with Amideast where he was teaching English to young children. He was also a student at Kenyon College in Ohio where he was an active member of various Jewish groups; he was also very involved in Middle Eastern politics having written on the subject.
The American Embassy has advised all Americans to avoid traveling to Egypt on non-essential business; it is also organizing the departure of some non-essential Americans in the country.
With the death of Andrew Pochter in the news we’ve had a couple of people contact us asking about safety while teaching abroad. One in particular was concerned because they were heading out to Egypt later this summer. I think it’s a good time to reiterate what we say in one of our articles on personal safety while teaching abroad: in 99.9% of cases you are going to be fine and it most cases you are probably safer abroad than you are at home!
But let’s make extra sure.
- Follow the advice of your country’s travel advisory and don’t for example head off to Egypt right now.
- Think first! Andrew was killed in the middle of what sounds like a riot. From all accounts it was his choice to be there (he was taking photos) so if you see a potentially dangerous situation then make your own informed decision as to whether you want to be there or not.
- Don’t assume because you are foreign the laws don’t apply to you and people will treat you differently. I have no idea of Andrew’s point of view but I have personally met people abroad who have the attitude that “Because I’m foreign they won’t rob me.” That’s not true!
In 99.9% of cases teaching abroad is safe enjoyable and fun. With just a few simple precautions it can be even safer. Andrew’s death was a freak death and very, very rare.
Personal Safety whilst Teaching Abroad – some excellent advice on how to stay safe
Teaching English in Egypt – general information on working in Egypt
Amideast – official website