Slain College Student Andrew Pochter Driven by Jewish Values to Help Egypt

'Passion To Help' Sent Him Back to Turbulent Middle East

Proud and Idealistic: Andrew Pochter was remembered as an idealistic star at his high school — and one who was keenly aware of his Jewish faith.
courtesy of blue ridge school
Proud and Idealistic: Andrew Pochter was remembered as an idealistic star at his high school — and one who was keenly aware of his Jewish faith.

By Anne Cohen

Published June 29, 2013.
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Pochter’s family said in a statement that he “went to Egypt because he cared profoundly about the Middle East. He had studied in the region, loved the culture, and planned to live and work there in the pursuit of peace and understanding.”

“Andrew was a wonderful young man looking for new experiences in the world and finding ways to share his talents while he learned.”

A junior at Kenyon, a famously progressive liberal arts college in Gambier, Ohio, Pochter was a member of the rugby team, a pledge at the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and co-manager of the campus Hillel house.

Zachary Caputo, 21, who lived across the hall from Pochter in their freshman year at Kenyon, told the Washington Post that Pochter wore his enthusiasm for the Middle East on his sleeve.

He described his dorm room as “an organized chaos,” with tapestries, rugs and knickknacks from his time living with a family in Morocco after high school.

Those who knew Pochter growing up in Chevy Chase, Md., say he was always a special person — someone who left a mark on everyone he came across.

William “Trip” Darrin III, headmaster of Blue Ridge School, the private boarding school in Virginia that Pochter attended through high school, called Pochter a glowing example to fellow students for his activism.

“In electing to share his language skills as a student and teacher abroad, Andrew Pochter is a tremendous example to fellow alumni and current BRS students,” Darrin wrote in an email. “Andrew’s untimely death is nothing short of tragic. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Pochter family. We grieve together.”

John Young taught Pochter in his American Studies class during his senior year at Blue Ridge School, and was also his sophomore lacrosse coach. He called Pochter one of the most impressive students he has come across in 42 years of teaching.

“He was a remarkably decent and honorable young man,” Young said. “A lot of young men that age do a lot of talking about what they’re going to do. Andrew was always a young man who acted rather than just talked. He did things.”

According to Young, Pochter’s interest in the Middle East was obvious even in high school.

“He was keenly interested in the Middle East and Arab countries,” he noted. “He was able to look at things from the perspective of the people of that region. What he hoped to accomplish was to find a way to help bridge the gap and to work out, or help contribute to some sort of improvement in the life of [the people from that region]. He was as fully committed to that as almost any young man that I have known. “

The last time Young saw Andrew, he had just returned from a summer in Morocco. In an article for Al Arabiya, Pochter described the effervescent mood gripping the country, immersed in the Arab Spring.

“To Moroccans and to many other Arabs this [protest] was something quite foreign; and at that level and volume, it was something completely new and surprising,” he wrote. The protests in major Moroccan cities such as Casablanca, Marrakech, and Rabat demonstrate a new sense of solidarity as citizens find themselves now reaching out beyond family to community involvement. Neighbors are re-connecting with old neighbors by marching together; strangers are finding common ground; and average citizens are realizing their true potentials in the real world.”


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