A community project hosted at Northeastern University

Students Overseas, Home Under Siege: My Story


April 15, 2013 started out as just another day working at my co-op in Belfast, Northern Ireland until I looked at the texts on my cell phone. One of my Northeastern apartment mates was frantically trying to find out if I had heard from our other house mate because she had been planning to run in the Boston Marathon that very day. Until then, I was totally unaware of the chaos that was taking place back at home. I questioned my roommate as to why she was so frenzied about finding our other housemate, but I did not receive a response. I had an eerie sense of fear and confusion overcome me. Naturally, I logged onto my computer, and I saw that posts about explosions at the Boston Marathon were flooding all forms of social media. I was confused, shocked, and petrified about what had occurred that day. After further investigation on the Internet I understood what had happened and followed the latest news updates religiously. One image in particular that stood out to me was not from the news in America, but from the local newspaper in Belfast, the Belfast Telegraph. The photo contained a scene of the aftermath with a US flag in the foreground, surrounded by rubble and debris that were a result of the explosions. This depiction of the incident summed up the way in which the thought of my home being strong and invincible was shattered in a single moment.

It was shocking for me to see the American flag flying high on Boylston Street, surrounded by wreckage, when there was supposed to be a charming street bustling with people behind it. I just kept thinking to myself that day,“THINGS LIKE THIS AREN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN IN BOSTON”.

Now that I am back at Northeastern, and have walked on the same sidewalk that was laden with debris only six months ago, it is obvious how the community has rallied and responded incredibly to the incident. Despite the fact that I was not in Boston for the actual event, it was still very traumatic to be away from my friends and family and to have to rely on secondhand news for updates about what was happening. For this reason I was compelled to talk with other students from Northeastern who were abroad at the time to learn about their experience and to understand how they feel that we, as a Northeastern discourse community, have responded. The following pages contain a profile of each student, as well as two photos: the first is a photo that especially resonated with them as they were following the event from abroad. The second is a current photo of the student now that they are back on campus. The two photos symbolize the juxtaposition of Boston when the traumatic event took place and how it has moved on and risen above since then.

This content was created by a student in Victoria Papa's Advanced Writing for the Social Sciences course at Northeastern University in Fall 2013. The students in the course each created two exhibits, the first directed toward a public audience and the second directed toward researchers in their various academic fields (economics, international affairs, political science, etc.). The students publicly presented their exhibits on December 5th at Forum Restaurant, which was heavily damaged by the second bomb during the Boston Marathon.


Ellie Buckhout

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