Former Medill Student On Front Lines In Egypt
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CAIRO, Egypt (CBS/WBBM) – Lauren Bohn never believed she’d end up in the middle of an international story when she began her Fulbright Scholarship in Cairo four months ago.
“As a journalism student, it’s really trial by fire,” Bohn said. “I haven’t really been staying in my room like others, I’ve been on the front lines with the protesters.”
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Bohn says she’s been tear gassed, and her flip video camera was taken by undercover government police officers but overall, she isn’t in fear of her life.
“When I tell people I’m an American, I’ve never been shown any hostility.”
Bohn says despite the headlines and video clips, most of the protests are peaceful.
“The center of the protests have been Tahrir Square, but we’ve seen people singing the national anthem, chanting peacefully,” she said.
She says her Internet was shut down on Thursday, and her cell phone was cut off on Friday. Finally on Sunday, she was able to receive international calls.
“You know me, I’m a huge facebooker, a tweeter, I’m a very connected person so it’s been a struggle,” Bohn said.
As a result, she says many people are relying on relatives to get messages back home and to others.
“Most of us are having people tweet for us, tell people we are okay, relay what we’re seeing, what we’re experiencing,” Bohn said.
She says over the last 24 hours she’s seen civilians who’ve taken security into their own hands to guard against looting.
“I’ve witnessed people with baseball bats and sticks standing guard outside their buildings.”
Bohn says the State Department is offering evacuations for Americans, diplomats and scholars, but she says she’s staying because she wants to be the eyes and ears on the front lines of history.
“I am pretty determined to stay in the region as long as I can to document everything.”
Bohn is studying Arabic at American University in Cairo as part of the Fulbright Program and working as a freelance journalist for a new news magazine.
Bohn lives in Zamalek, just down the road from downtown Cairo and Tahrir Square which has been the center of the uprising.
Bohn graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern in June. She will be studying in Cairo until the fall.