A terrorist attack spurred the University to relocate Tyler Lawrence ’16 and Tori Rinker ’16 from their internships in Cairo, Egypt, in mid-July.
"Out of an abundance of caution in the wake of an incident in Cairo, the students were relocated to Casablanca, Morocco, to continue their internship with the same organization. At no time was there a direct threat to the students," University spokesperson Martin Mbugua said on behalf of International Internship Program director Luisa Duarte-Silva.
The students had been working for Endeavor Inc. through the International Internship Program. According to Endeavor's website, the nonprofit is headquartered in New York City with 24 branches worldwide and supports long-term economic growth by mentoring high-impact entrepreneurs.
Safety concerns emerged after the Islamic State detonated a parked car bomb at the Italian consulate in central Cairo on July 11. The explosion killed one civilian and injured 10 others. The incident indicated that militants were launching an anti-foreigner campaign in Egypt, according to Reuters.
Prior to the attack on the Italian consulate, on June 29, Cairo saw a bombing of the Saudi consulate that left no injuries, as well as a car bombing that killed the Egyptian attorney general.
Near Eastern Studies professor Bernard A. Haykel noted a recent upsurge in lone-wolf style incidents, in which individuals outside of traditional groups or structures commit violence for ideological reasons. He listed Egypt, Tunisia and France as targets.
“A number of these [lone-wolf] attacks are claimed by affiliates of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” Haykel said.
Haykel explained that the call for these incidents has been made through social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook. The governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and France, among others, are working to stop these attacks, he said.
Lawrence and Rinker began working at Endeavor on June 13. According to Lawrence, they had been in Egypt just over five weeks before receiving an email from Duarte-Silva telling them to leave.
Lawrence, a native of Franklin, Tenn., is concentrating in politics with certificates in Near Eastern Studies and theater. He said he came to Egypt because he wanted to work specifically with Endeavor.
Last summer, he participated in a language program in rural Oman, which he described as a very conservative country.
“I kind of wanted to go to the other extreme, which was Cairo, the biggest city of the Arab world and kind of the cultural capital and everything else and see what that was like,” Lawrence said.
Rinker, a Near Eastern Studies concentrator from Cornelius, N.C., said traveling to Egypt seemed like a good opportunity for her major.
She added that she had never felt uncomfortable or unsafe while in Cairo and had mixed feelings about her departure from the city. She is currently staying in Morocco.“I was sad to be leaving Egypt. It’s a wonderful country, but I really like Morocco. I was here last summer, so it felt a bit like a homecoming as well,” Rinker explained.
Rinker said she will be in Morocco until Aug. 7 and expressed willingness to return to Cairo in the future.
Lawrence said he is grateful that both the Endeavor team and Duarte-Silva worked extremely hard to make sure he and Rinker had a way to continue their work.
“We’re working for the same organization. We’re still going to be finishing several projects for the Endeavor Egypt organization, working remotely for them, so I don’t think the experience is going to be tremendously impacted, to be honest," Lawrence said. “I’m still thinking of the friends we made there, the situation they’re in, and what they’re dealing with there."
Correction: Due to reporting errors, an earlier version of this article misstated the date the two students began working at Endeavor. They began working on June 13. Additionally, an earlier version of this article misstated the location of a bombing that killed the Egyptian attorney general. The 'Prince' regrets the errors.