I Was Evacuated from Egypt

Posted Feb 4th 2011 12:00 PMUpdated Feb 11th 2011 11:23 AM


Evacuated from Egypt

Amanda Patterson

Amanda Patterson got the call at her apartment in Cairo from an evacuation insurance agent at 4 a.m. Tuesday – sparking what she called a "saga" that would get the Tulane University student out of Egypt and back to her native Massachusetts on Thursday.

"He said, 'Pack as if you are never going to see your stuff again. You are on a flight to Paris this afternoon,'" Patterson told AOL yesterday from her home in Lynnfield, Mass. "It was a hard decision. I really didn't want to leave. But the embassy wanted Americans out, the school wanted us out, and I didn't want to worry my mother unnecessarily."

She did pack her belongings and then took a bus to the airport in Cairo for her 3 p.m. flight on Air Mediterranee to Paris on Wednesday.

Patterson said the most arduous part of her journey was the bus ride through the rioting crowds. "It was the only time I was really nervous. I didn't feel like I was in danger until that part of it."

When she arrived, she was not on the manifest and thought she would be stranded on stand-by for days, but took off hours later for Paris. There, she spent a night at the airport hotel and then had to purchase another ticket to Boston's Logan Airport for just over $1,000.

Her student SOS insurance covered the evacuation flight to Paris, but not the flight back to the States. She landed Thursday night and her mother, Sandra Patterson, was at the gate to greet her. Back in Massachusetts, she found her car buried under four feet of snow.

"I didn't want to leave, but I was happy to see my mother, happy to be home safe," Patterson said. "It wasn't as bad at the airport as I thought it would be. It was chaotic, but not frantic."

When commercial flights were unable to meet demand, United States State Department began chartering flights to shuttle American citizens to Europe. The government said it would charge passengers market rates for the flights. "The security was sub-par and it was a little crazy with commercial flights and American Embassy flights, but not as bad as people made it out to be," she said. "Everything got done. Everything fell into place.

Patterson, 21, has lived in Egypt for five months as part of a pharmaceutical program affiliated with Tulane University. She loves the country and is studying Arabic - which has made her a sympathetic to the anti-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak protestors. She was among the thousands that have crammed the streets of Cairo during the increasingly violent protests that have left an estimated 300 people dead.

"There was some anti-American sentiment out there. But when I explained why I was there and how I felt people were grateful for the foreign support," Patterson said. "It was a saga to be there during the protests, and a saga to get out. I just want to go back."

Patterson said one of the toughest things about leaving was saying goodbye to her Egyptian friends.

"When people heard I was on their side, they were grateful," Patterson said. "Egyptians told me that when I get home I should have some choice words for President Obama."

She plans to fulfill that promise by attending a protest with other anti-Mubarak supporters in Boston's Copley Square on Saturday. "I'm really upset that I couldn't stay. I had to leave. But I won't give up supporting the country."

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I would like to point out that none of you have no idea what you are talking about. I know Ms. Patterson quite well, being a classmate of hers at Tulane over the last couple years. First of all, she had no choice about coming home. The University canceled her program and had her and 2 other students from the University evacuated (the state department made the arrangements, but it was in no way an option). As for those of you questioning her intelligence and judgment, I can assure you that she is far more intelligent than the vast majority of you. Some of you have questioned her patriotism/loyalty to the United States, and yet again, I am forced to point out how wrong you are. When living in New Orleans, she has dedicated hours upon hours to making her city a better place. She votes, and as a political science major is quite active in politics. So, while you bad mouth her, I would like to remind you that she is a far better human being, who has done and accomplished a lot more in her 21 years of life than most of you ever will.

February 05 2011 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

you people like it so much over there just stay there you have made that place your home

February 05 2011 at 11:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It certainly is always easy to see which are the right wing nutjobs in any given chat room. Why is America becoming so full of empty-headed, low-intelligence people? Why can't those middle-class people on the right develop some critical thinking skills?

February 05 2011 at 9:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pierpoint Windsor

Mz. Patterson best support her own nation - no matter what this young women feels she knows concerning the plight of the people of Egypt only they can resolve this dilemma. Best take a lesson from Hannoi Jane, (aka Jane Fonda), and move on lest you are perceived as siding with the enemy. For decades we've paid for Egypt's friendship, it no longer enough.

February 05 2011 at 8:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We should send some people there on a one way ticket, like Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohen, and other trash! Anyone who willingly travels to a rag-head country is a complete idiot.

February 04 2011 at 11:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Never ceases to amaze me how many dumb Americans are out there. Maybe a good swing to her head with a large stick and heavy stones would have changed your mind about wanting to stay in such a danger zone. What an idiot! I never feel sorry for any American who wants to go to these places and be sympathizers only for us to read they got there head chopped off or taken hostage. Good for them! They had it coming! Wants to learn Arabic, blah blah blah. Go back and STAY over there TRAITOR!

February 04 2011 at 10:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Amanda Patterson

Some corrections: Half the quotes in this story are completely made up. Even the entire thing about the bus ride through the riots. there were no riots anywhere near the bus ride, it was actually rather peaceful that day. And I was studying Political Science, not Pharmaceuticals... no idea where that came from. And I don't believe I've ever called anything a "saga."

To the running at the first sign of danger: I participated in the protests, got tear gassed and shot at and stood by the Egyptian people (one of their chants, to all the Muslim haters, by the way was roughly "Muslim, Christian, we are all Egyptian."
Also: the first time they called about getting me on a flight to Paris, I turned them down.

To the "No one is making her leave:" I was forced to leave. My school cut my program, my visa would be revoked, and the US Embassy made evacuation MANDATORY. Before you say things you should really read some news every once and awhile.

To the Muslim haters: They had five months to chop my head off and I promise you no one even so much as approached me with a butter knife. Some of my best friends in Egypt are Muslim, some of my favorite political debates were with Muslim classmates. My Muslim friend and his Muslim family took me and my roommates in when the looting was rumored to be really bad in my neighborhood so that we wouldn't have to go home. I met three Muslim men last Friday who spent their entire day protecting me, helping me when we got tear gassed, one even took a rubber bullet for me. I do not understand why you all have so much hatred for people based on religion. I am pretty sure that trying to tell you that Muslims are not evil is probably futile, but I promise you they are in fact very kind people. It is ironic that I was called naive. Maybe I am, but you were not there so how can you claim I am a liar (though I would like to repeat that many of the things in this article are completely made up and I will be emailing the author to tell her she should really stop making me look like an idiot by quoting things I never said).

February 04 2011 at 10:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Most people with half an IQ should have seen civil unrest months ago, hate to think of my tax dollars rescuing pin heads that are suppose to be brighter than normal

February 04 2011 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Americans need to start being patriotic for America rather than all the other countries. We keep giving and donating and donating.....We are donating fake money. Our States, Schools, and Federal Governement are in the red, We owe everyone that we are helping. Isn't that weird to anyone???
....and the bailout money was a simple push of the the button.

February 04 2011 at 9:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To Sonja @ 8:36 p.m.:

Get over the "Obama is a muslim" lie. You sound really stupid.

February 04 2011 at 9:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply