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Triangle High School Students Caught In Krygyzstan Revolution

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DURHAM, N.C. — Ten students and teachers from a Triangle high school are caught in the middle of a revolution in Krygyzstan.

Protestors stormed the parliament on Thursday and forced President Askar Akayev to flee the small country near China.

The coup left the capital in chaos. With the airport closed, eight students from Durham's Riverside High School have been holed up in a hotel waiting for the first flight home.

"I was blissfully naive," Robin Harrison told WRAL-TV's John Bachman. Harrison is the mother of 16-year-old Stephanie, among the students visiting Krygyzstan on an exchange program. "I had no idea there might be something brewing that would pop off while she was there."

At first, the protests and chaos started in the southern part of the country with little concern up north in Bishkek, the capital city where the students are staying.

But on Wednesday, Stephanie sent her mother an email.

"I don't know if you heard about all that is going on here in Krygyzstan," Stephanie wrote.

A few hours later, protestors stormed the president's compound to oust Akayev, who had been in power since 1991. "They [the students and teachers] were whisked off to the embassy at three a.m.," Robin Harrison said. " I think it was Thursday morning."

The airport closed, which has forced the group to be holed up in a hotel. At one point, the U.S. Air Force discussed airlifting the group out of the country. But so far, that has not been necessary as they safely wait for a flight home.

The group is scheduled to return to the Triangle Sunday night.

Harrison said she is sad the trip has been cut, but thankful they're leaving and for the experience her daughter has been given.

"It's been a great thing for all of them," Harrison said. "Their eyes have been opened wider than they could ever possibly have been sitting there studying books at schools."

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