Iowa teacher returns home from Cairo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa teacher returns home from Cairo


CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- She calls herself a "refugee". After a long, worrisome trip out of Egypt, Josie Kennicott's mother was thrilled to greet her daughter at the airport in Cedar Rapids.

"I hardly slept for three days figuring out how to get her out and what we were going to do," said Kathi Kennicott.

After more than a week of watching and waiting, Kathi couldn't wait to hug her daughter. No one could have imagined Josie's year working in Egypt would end like this.

"I got to go to the pyramids, I got to see the Sphinx, went on the boats on the Nile," Josie reflected.

Fast forward to Thursday, January 27, with no TV and unreliable cell phone service, Josie and the other teachers had no idea the magnitude of what was happening just a few miles from their apartment.

"The next morning, the Internet was gone, phones were gone," Josie recalled. "We were sitting in our apartment in Cairo, part of the city, and we could hear things every once in awhile. We could hear the fighter jets flying over, we heard the gunshots at night."

On Saturday the 29, things went from uncertain, to unbelievable.

"We were kind of worried, because we saw people in the streets with bats and sticks and crowbars. And we didn't know if they were for us or against us, what was going on. And finally, a teacher we knew who spoke Arabic called and said, don't worry, the mosques are telling the young men to protect the people, protect the streets from these looters," said Josie.

"So she said they felt safe, because those guys were out there protecting them," Kathi added.

On Sunday, January 30, Josie and her friends were able to make it to the airport -- along with thousands of other Americans. They were safe, but have to wait nine hours for a plane out of Egypt.

"Getting them to the airport and getting them out of Cairo was the most difficult," said Kathi.

Five cities, and three countries later, Josie is home. But maybe not for long -- when things calm down, Josie plans to return to her Cairo classroom.

"It's my school, it's my kids. I don't want to leave them hanging because of something that wasn't their fault. They still need to learn," Josie said.

Her mother was not sure about Josie's plans.

"I'm like, we need to have a long talk about this! Because it scares me to death," said Kathi. "Who knows if they do have a lull, is it over or is it just, in between the storms? I don't know. But it scares me to death."

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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