Gifts from the heart
From Luminus, Winter 2001, Vol. 27, No. 1 Sept. 11, 2001: A Lesson in Giving From the Heart
|Cots laid out in gym
The tragic events of Sept. 11 showed us the 'worst of mankind'. But 'the best of 'mankind' shone brightly over Memorial University's community in the days that followed.
Like so many parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, Memorial University's community of faculty, staff, alumni and students opened its arms to stranded travelers in the wake of the Sept.11 terrorist attacks.
An estimated 13,000 people bound for North America, of all ages and walks-of-life, arrived in airports across the province when airspace over the United States was shut down; some anxious, some weary, and many alone. But almost 500 of them found lodging - and a warm smile to greet them - in the makeshift dorms on Memorial University of Newfoundland's main campus.
|Stranded passengers head home
During the five days that followed, Memorial University's volunteers came together, unified by the spirit of volunteerism. The unexpected guests were provided with beds and cots, meals, warm showers, translation services, telephone and e-mail communications, and a spur-of-the-moment program of concerts, special lectures and films. Our volunteers offered their homes, cars, blankets and face cloths…and, most importantly, the gift of friendship.
The same spirit of giving was offered in return through a most surprising and poignant gift from the university's guests. Several decided to express their gratitude by establishing the September 11, 2001, International Travel Bursary to help international students study at Memorial, and to remember those who lost their lives on that horrific day. Since that time, donations in support of this initiative have flooded in from those touched by Memorial University's community during the days that followed Sept. 11.
The lives of Memorial's community and its guests, it seems, will be forever touched by the experience.
"Through you we like to express our thanks to all the people involved for the magnificent way they have laboured for our cause in circumstances that for both parties were not easy. St. John's [will] forever [have] a special place in our hearts."
- Joke and Ton, The Netherlands
"The two extremes of humanity - the horrors of the terrorists and the human kindness of the Canadians - were so very evident on Sept. 11 and the days thereafter. Thank you from two ordinary people who were part of an extraordinary experience."
- Barbara and George, Asheville, North Carolina USA
"My husband and I were fortunate enough to end up at Memorial University. I cannot express how very much we appreciated all that was done for us, and we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are two Americans who will never forget you. God bless you all."
- Frank and Cathy, Torrance, California
"I already am missing the wonderful people of St. John's. There is now a bond between all of us that only a few will ever understand. My gratitude for making it possible to have memories of this event that are not so painful. The tragedy will never be forgotten but, among the sorrow was a beautiful light and that will forever to me be, St. John's."
© Copyright 2002 Memorial University of Newfoundland