A Bulldog Abroad
Study abroad experiences usually involve a calm semester with weekend adventures exploring local sights and venturing into the countryside. Not so for Drake Junior Ian Weller, whose recent experience in Egypt involved an up-close and personal look at a revolution on the streets of Cairo and an emergency evacuation.
“This semester will matter, and will undoubtedly be a story to tell my kids,” Writes Weller
It’s a compelling story, and one Weller, an international relations major from Waunakee, WI, is already sharing through words and photos in his student blog on Drake’s undergraduate website (www.drake.edu/advantage). Weller has been writing of his Drake experience on this blog since arriving at Drake two years ago.
Weller and Drake students Amina Kader and Ashley Crow were in Egypt to study Arabic as part of a Butler University’s Institute for Study Abroad program, in which Drake students regularly participate. Weller speaks Arabic and has been to Jordan on two previous occasions and led a student-group during one visit. He planned to stay in the country and continue to study until June, but Drake officials and program organizers arranged an early departure for the students when revolution erupted in the streets.
Despite the protests around him, Weller writes that he felt relatively safe throughout the experience. But with student safety being Drake University’s top priority, passage out of Egypt was quickly arranged for those studying there. They departed from Egypt earlier this week and are now at a hotel in Prague considering alternate plans for the semester.
In addition to his first-person account of the events unfolding and his experiences with the people of Egypt, Weller shares photos of crowds of people on the streets, Egyptians proudly waving their country’s flag and streets blocked by burning vehicles. Despite the chilling effect these images might have, Ian states that the people of Egypt were quite protective of him and other Americans in the area.
“Arabs are some of the nicest, most protective folks possible,” he writes. “As we made the long walk down the road to our meeting point we all thanked the men guarding the barricade. They seemed to understand we were pulling out and honestly looked sad.”
At one point during his stay Weller put his language skills and friendly nature to work and received permission from an Egyptian family to photograph the crowds on the street from the family’s personal balcony.
“Ian’s confidence sets him apart as well as his calmness, especially in his current situation,” says Jen Hogan, assistant director of study abroad programs at Drake University. “I think Ian is utilizing his classroom knowledge in a real-world context which will give him more of a global skill set in any occupation he chooses.”
As Weller states: “… this generally tops all study abroad stories I have heard.
So, I was once evacuated from Egypt during a revolution…”
Weller’s “Bulldog Abroad” blog can be viewed at http://ianwellerdrake.blogspot.com.