As violence and protests escalate in Egypt, word came Sunday that part of a South Dakota group made it safely out of the country. Augustana College band members were on tour in Egypt. When riots broke out Friday, the group cancelled its Cairo concert and moved to a safer hotel outside of the city. But flights home were delayed.
Parents of the stranded students also lost contact with their children Friday as the country attempted to crack down on the violent protests. During the weekend, phone and internet service was been spotty, but a Luverne family finally confirmed their daughter was safe.
The Olson family knows what it's like to be half a world away from a child.
"From the study of the Peace Prize in Oslo and the rioting here, in Egypt. It's just from one extreme to war," father David Olson said.
David and Patti Olson's 22-year-old daughter, Lindsey, is used to traveling, too.
"She usually texts a mass text to all of us. So we all get the same thing, and one of us usually texts her back," Lindsey's sister Kirsten Olson said.
But the texting Kirsten stopped last week, and a mother's intuition kicked in.
"Your head tells you everything is fine and they're safe. But your heart tells you you need to worry about them," mother Patti Olson said.
Because that's what parents do, especially when the only images they see are violent protests across the city.
"They did witness some burning of buildings and things like that, and then they were moved out to a hotel closer to the airport," David said.
But with cancelled flights and spotty communications, all the family could do was wait for the word.
"[It's] one thing to witness it. And another thing to absolutely get out of there too," David said.
"Her first text said, 'landed in Amsterdam. We are safe and sound,'" Patti said.
Soon all Augustana travelers will be back in the States.
"It's kind of a bittersweet thing. You'd like them all to come home and at the same time. But hopefully they'll be right behind coming a day later," Patti said.
When that happens, everyone will sleep easier.
The Olson's have another daughter going to Augustana. She is on tour with the choir in Chicago. The family is also dogsitting for one of the professors along on the trip.
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