Slain American Student's Letter Says 'Good Friends,' 'Good Deeds' Make a Happy Life

PHOTO: Andrew Driscoll PochterPlayPochter Family/AP Photo
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An American college student who was teaching kids in Egypt when he was killed last month has left behind an inspiring letter he wrote to a 12-year-old boy, telling him the secret to a happy life was "good friends" and "good deeds."

Andrew Driscoll Pochter, 21, a junior at Kenyon College from Chevy Chase, Md., was watching a protest in Alexandria, Egypt, when he was fatally stabbed on June 28.

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At his funeral on Friday at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Pochter's sister, Emily Pochter, read the letter that Pochter wrote June 10 to a boy named Justin, whom he was paired with at Camp Opportunity, a week-long sleep away summer camp for at risk children in Baltimore.

In the letter obtained by, Pochter apologized to Justin for not being able to be at the ceremony since he was in Egypt teaching English to students who were around the boy's age. Pochter also gives Justin words to live by as he leaves Camp Opportunity and enters the next phase of his life.

"Egypt is hazardous right now because the country is feeling the consequences of an enormous political revolution. I lose electricity and water all the time, but that's okay because I have many Egyptian friends to help take care of me. When I am in trouble, they take care of me and when they are in trouble, I always take care of them," Pochter wrote.

"Good friends do not come easily, but as a rule, I always appreciate the good deeds people do for me even if I don't know them well. What is most important is that I am trying to do my best for others."

Pochter goes on to say that his personal philosophy was inspired by people like Justin. Without whom, he said, he "would probably be a mean and grumpy person."

"Your kind heart and genuine character serve as a model for me. I hope that you will never stop your curiosity for the beautiful things in life," he wrote. "Surround yourself with good friends who care about your future. Fall in love with someone. Get your heart broken. And then move on and fall in love again. Breathe life every day like it is your first. Find something that you love to do and never stop doing that unless you find something else you love more."

"Don't blame others for their mistakes. It makes you weak. You are a strong man who does not need to be weighed down by people who complain and say negative things," Pochter wrote. "Speak with conviction and believe in yourself because your personal confidence is just as important as your education."

Camp Opportunity counselor recruiter Allison Gardner told that she gave a copy of the letter to Pochter's family upon news of his death.

"I felt it was really important to make sure Emily, his sister, and Emily's parents, got a chance to see the letter once Andrew had passed," Gardner said. "It was a beautiful representation of Andrew, so well-written and special."

Gardner said she and Pochter had discussed working on something for Justin's graduation, since he would not be able to be there in person.

"The letter was more special than we even knew once Andrew was killed because it was so recent that he wrote it," she said. "It's something we're all going to cherish now that he's gone."

Pochter had emailed Gardner the letter to give to Justin, whom she and other camp staff have spoken with since Pochter's passing.

"Andrew cared for Justin deeply," Gardner said. "Justin definitely learned a lot from Andrew and I think vice versa. I think they were a good pair."

Pochter had been a volunteer at Camp Opportunity since 2008, Gardner said.

Camp Opportunity issued a statement on its website upon news of Pochter's passing, calling Pochter "an incredibly kind and compassionate young man."

"Andrew, we thank you for your personal contribution to a world where children are victims of birth and circumstance," the statement said. "Your sense of responsibility and servanthood reached well beyond your years. Many live longer than you, but few achieve true significance and achieve such personal greatness as you have."

The Pochter family declined to comment to