It’s been almost a week since Derrik Sweeney (COL ’13) was released from police custody in Cairo, but the experience is still fresh in his mind.
“It’s mind-boggling that now I’m here, texting with my friends in Missouri, considering where I was two days ago,” he said Wednesday.
Sweeney and two other American students studying abroad at the American University in Cairo were detained in Egypt Tuesday for participating in protests in Tahrir Square.
After being held for more than three days, the students were released Friday and returned to the U.S. on separate flights.
Sweeney landed in St. Louis late Saturday night and was met at the airport by about 30 friends and family members. He addressed reporters after landing and has since appeared on The Today Show and been interviewed about his experiences by media organizations across the nation.
“It’s been extraordinarily peaceful and happy, even despite the hectic interviews,” Sweeney said.
Next semester, he plans to return to Georgetown and continue to study Arabic.
“It’s only strengthened my desire to study Arabic and be back in the Middle East in some capacity,” he said.
“The treatment of Egyptians back there is horrible from what we faced,” he said.
While Sweeney said he feared for his life during the detainment, he thinks that being an American citizen helped improve the conditions he was held in.
“After the first time we spoke to someone from the embassy, we were pretty sure we weren’t going to get executed, so that was a nice step,” he said. “But I think that until we boarded that plane, we weren’t sure if we were going to make it back.”