Update 3:24 p.m. KQED’s Scott Shafer spoke to Jackie Olson, director of Cal Discoveries Travel. She said that all members of the Cal alumni group traveling in Egypt have now safely left the country and are either home or en route.

Earlier post The Wall Street Journal’s reporter in Egypt, Charles Levinson, ran into a UC Berkeley alumni group in Cairo and wrote about their reactions to the uprising there. UCB official Robert Sproul, quoted in the article, and his wife returned home yesterday, and KTVU has a video interview with them. The Sprouls said they do not know where the other members of the alumni group are and are still waiting to hear from them.

The graying group of Cal Bears—most of whom had graduated in the 1960s, when the campus was a hotbed of student activism and the site of regular clashes with police—was told upon arrival that Egypt’s biggest demonstrations in decades were building and that their hotel was in the thick of the action.

“Everybody on the bus said, ‘We’re used to tear gas, we’re used to protest. We went to Berkeley in the 1960s,’ ” said Robert Sproul, class of 1969, a retired ad executive who is now the vice president for alumni development at Berkeley’s Boalt Law School…

On Wednesday and Thursday, however, the Berkeley tour group stuck to its itinerary, visiting historic mosques and the Egyptian Museum, with its rich collection of Pharaonic artifacts.

On Friday morning, a day when opposition groups had called for a so-called day of rage, Mr. Sproul’s group visited the pyramids. By early afternoon, much of the city was consumed by clashes. They returned to their hotel, the Semiramis Intercontinental, which towers above the city’s central Tahrir Square. Dozens of protests around the city were converging there…

The group discussed whether to venture back out. Most chose to stay in the safety of their hotel rooms. One proposed relocating to a safer hotel in the suburbs.

Mr. Sproul wasn’t having it.

“There was no way I was going to give up my front-row seat on the revolution to sit in a mall in the suburbs and wait for a plane out of here,” said Mr. Sproul, who sits on the board of Save the Redwoods and speaks wistfully of his desire to see U.S. youths protest income inequality and “unjust wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I still have the fire in my belly,” said Mr. Sproul, who traveled to Cairo with a book called “When that Rough God Goes Riding—Listening to Jim Morrison,” an analysis of the lyrics of the former Doors lead singer. “I get upset about things. There’s a lot of injustice still.” Full article

Naturally, the conversation in the comment sections quickly turned into a debate about the 60s…

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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