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College program uncertain
Plan may change if civil unrest in Egypt continues, Maine says
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The uprising in Egypt has led North Georgia College & State University officials to evaluate the school’s new language immersion program in the country.


The university signed an agreement with Egypt’s Alexandria University to allow students studying Arabic to travel there for eight weeks beginning this summer.


However, massive anti-government protests have forced hundreds of American students to flee the country recently.


University spokeswoman Kate Maine said the future of North Georgia’s program is uncertain.


“We will evaluate the situation, and we’re hopeful the political environment will stabilize so we can continue with the partnership,” she said.


North Georgia’s Center for Global Engagement has been evaluating the situation in Alexandria, Maine said.


Reports said massive tides of peaceful protestors flooded through the city last Tuesday with calls for the ouster of President Honsi Mubarak.


Mubarak, 82, announced in a televised address Feb. 1 that he will not seek another term, but rejected demands that he step down immediately.


The Center for Global Engagement’s director, Dlynn Armstrong-Williams, has attempted to reach school officials in Alexandria. However, the Egyptian government cut off nearly all Internet traffic into and out of the country last week, and suspended mobile phone service in some areas.


“I was only able to get one e-mail out before the Internet was shut down,” Williams said. “We’re waiting with the rest of the world to see what happens.”


Maine said a group of North Georgia administrators is scheduled to visit the Alexandria campus in March to discuss more details of the program, such as locations to house students.


“We’ll have to wait and see if that’s still possible at that time,” she added.

Students would sign up for the Egyptian program for summer semester. Registration would be in early May.


“We’re still excited about the partnership and plan to continue with it. We’re evaluating the best way to do it given the current political situation,” Maine said.


North Georgia developed the partnership with Alexandria to complement its Arabic language program. The universities signed a memorandum of understanding Jan. 19.


The university’s modern language department places an emphasis on strategic languages like Arabic, which are spoken in areas where the United States has military forces or that are considered important economic regions.


Maine said if civil unrest continues in Egypt, the university could move to another plan.


“If (students) are unable to go there as originally planned, hopefully we’ll work out an opportunity for Alexandria staff to come here,” she said.


Williams, who was part of the delegation of faculty who visited the Alexandria school in mid-January, said there was little sign an uprising of this magnitude was ahead.


“There was no thought that the level of protest there would happen. But I wasn’t in the neighborhoods with the people,” she said.


She added that the partnership with Alexandria will be an evolving one, and that the campus is situated in a beautiful and historical city. It also offers one of the world’s largest research libraries.


“In times of calm and peace, it’s a great place to be,” Williams said.