Missing Andrew

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Andrew Pochter, 21, would have been a junior this fall at Kenyon College studying Arabic and majoring in religion, but he was stabbed to death by an unknown protester June 28 while watching a demonstration in Alexandria, Egypt. He'd been spending the summer in Egypt teaching English to children. Henry Heuck, 19, a Kenyon classmate from Fox Chapel, sent this remembrance of his friend from Hamburg, Germany, where he is studying at the Goethe Institut.

The first news I received of Andrew's death was in a Dresden train station when a newsflash on the television read, "U.S. Citizen Killed in Egypt Protests." Shame, I thought, hadn't the Egyptians settled into a peaceful, if not stable, democracy? It was only later when I logged onto Facebook that I discovered how personal a shame it was; I would never see Andrew Pochter again because of the random act of an angry protester.

At Kenyon, Andrew stood out, with his angular face, warm smile and shining gold earring, and with his outgoing and light-hearted personality. He knew many things about many subjects and could hold an interesting conversation with just about anyone.

It would be easier to list the clubs Andrew did not belong to at Kenyon than those to which he did, as his diverse interests included theater, rugby, eco club, Hillel House, the local food co-op, Greek life, etc., not to mention that he was a talented singer who lent his voice to many Kenyon bands. His absence will be felt on campus.

The news stories that ran shortly after his death noted Andrew's interest in global politics, but they barely scratched the surface. He had traveled all over the world, studied religions from every corner of the Earth, attended symposiums about Israeli-Palestinian relations and, as other students studied Spanish, Mandarin or German, he chose to learn Arabic, not because it would be of practical or business use, but because he admired the cultures of North Africa and the Arabian world and believed he could build a bridge between peoples. Where others saw skin color, nationality, education level or other surface characteristics, Andrew saw a human being. I doubt I will ever meet a more tolerant person.

When I heard the news I was angry. Angry for how Andrew must have felt as he lay dying, seemingly betrayed by the people he so loved. How could such a bright young light be snuffed out so easily, so randomly?

Anger has since turned to gratitude for having known such a unique, well-rounded person. Though I'll never bump into Andrew on the way to class or make a sandwich in line next to him again, and though his voice fades from memory, I'll always remember his message of understanding and peace. If only the angry protester had known him.

As other members of Kenyon's class of 2015 graduate, find work and start families, Andrew will remain forever the charismatic 21-year-old, and we will remember him just the way he was: filled with hopes and dreams for a better world.

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