An American Hillel student stabbed and killed during street protests in Egypt had a “passion for learning,” according to his Jewish college chaplain, writes Stephen Oryszczuk.

Andrew Pochter, 21, was caught up in vicious fighting between rival pro- and anti-government groups in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on Friday night. He was taken to hospital but pronounced dead shortly after arriving.

The student, who attended KenyonCollege in Ohio, left for the Middle East at the end of May, planning a three month visit.

He was known to take a keen interest in the social and political turmoil spreading throughout the region, after he spent some time with a host family in Morocco at the beginning of the Arab Spring three years ago.

“He had a passion for learning about other people and other cultures,” said Marc Bragin, Kenyon’s Jewish chaplain. “He was truly interested in listening to what other people had to say, which for a 21-year-old is not that common.”

His family said he had gone to Egypt to teach English to young children, while also working to improve his Arabic skills.

Among those paying tribute were friends and family members. Meryn Chimes, 20, said she had last heard from him through Facebook on Tuesday, when he had said that the students were struggling with English lessons.

“Andrew’s world was one in which he saw the best in everyone,” she said.

The violence was not limited to Alexandria, with several cities throughout the country witnessing clashes over the weekend.

The latest trouble is being orchestrated by opponents of Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president critics say is now emulating the dictatorial style of former ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Four government ministers were this week reported to have resigned, and the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters were ransacked by a group of armed men, an act the ruling party said on had “crossed a red line”.