Derrik Sweeney, Luke Gates and Gregory Porter, three American students studying abroad in a semester-long program at the American University in Cairo, were arrested by Egyptian authorities for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at police protecting the Interior Ministry during pro-democracy protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
When news of these students’ arrests in Cairo emerged last week people seemed shocked that Americans would be poorly treated and arrested for their involvement in protests in a foreign country, let alone one under military rule that does not necessarily favor Americans.
Studying abroad should expose students to other cultures and transform them into global citizens, not embroil students in conflict that could result in their detainment, injury or death.
This event should serve as a reminder to the many USC students heading to study abroad programs in the spring.
Students should think twice before putting themselves in potentially dangerous situations — for any reason — in their respective countries of study.
One of the students said the three wanted to “see democracy in action,” so they made their way toward the violence in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
When some plain-clothed policemen saw the conspicuously American trio making their way toward the packed and chaotic protests, they pounced on the opportunity to accuse them of conspiracy against the government.
The careless disregard these students exhibited is what others need to avoid when they are guests on foreign soil, particularly in areas with instability such as Egypt.
With the efforts of diplomats and cooperation between American and Egyptian authorities, the students were fortunate to be released on Thursday and sent home.
Though it is understandable students would be curious about historic events like the Egyptian revolution and would want to be able to say they were a part of it, they must consider the consequences of being in a position where they could be associated with anti-government activities.
As students head out of the country and call foreign places their homes for a semester, they should keep in mind why they are taking advantage of such an opportunity.
This way, they can be on their best behavior and not mess up what should be one of the greatest experiences of their lives.
Sarah Cueva is a sophomore majoring in political science.