February 16, 2011, Updated September 12, 2012

Seventeen displaced American college students, who were forced to leave Egypt amid the political turmoil, are now studying at Israeli universities.

The Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has placed 12 students into its program. Another five American students – who planned to do a student exchange program in Cairo – are at the International School at the University of Haifa.

The displaced students now studying in Jerusalem come from Princeton University, Vanderbilt University, University of California Schools, Michigan State University, and Allegheny University.

“We are grateful to the staff at the Hebrew University for being so responsive to our request to enroll two Princeton students at the Hebrew University, where the students can continue to study Arabic and Middle East issues at this important time in the region,” said Nancy Kanach, director of the Office of International Programs at Princeton University.

“When the universities asked us to assist their students, we did not hesitate,” said Prof. Mimi Ajzenstadt, provost of The Rothberg International School. “The various courses taught by top academics of The Hebrew University will enable the students to put their personal experience in Egypt and in Israel within a broader academic framework.”

Meanwhile, students at the University of Haifa are grateful for being integrated into the International School.

“Until just a few days ago, I never thought I’d find myself in Israel. Now I am happy to be in a safe and friendly place like this,” said Rachael Borowy, one of the five students from Elon University in South Carolina.

Ironically, Elon University and the University of Haifa’s International School officially signed a student exchange agreement a few weeks ago, and intended to begin the program in October 2011. But when the uprising in Egypt broke out, Elon University management turned to the University of Haifa with an urgent request to take in five of its students who had just days earlier begun their semester at the American University in Cairo.

“The American University in Egypt is located on an island on the Nile, so at first we didn’t hear or see anything. But it wasn’t long before we started hearing gunshots and smelling the tear gas. A representative from the international program of the university in Cairo took us to his home on the shore of the Red Sea and from there we set out on our way to Israel,” said student Jonathan Ordog.

“Our families were most worried of all and they urged us to get out of Egypt as quickly as possible. At first there were options like Lebanon or Jordan, but when they heard that Israel was an option they preferred we come here. Once they knew we were on our way here, they were much calmer,” said student Kate Donovan.

Regardless of the eventual outcome of events in Egypt, the students will be complete their student exchange program studies at the University of Haifa.

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