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. Below is a feature story about Memorial's involvement in the wake of the attack.
|Stranded passengers head home
Like many parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, Memorial opened its arms to stranded travellers
in the wake of devastating terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington in Sept. 2001.
When news came that terrorists had used commercial jetliners as missiles, the United States
shut down the skies over the country. That forced dozens of jetliners to make unscheduled
landings across Canada, most of them at St. John's, Gander, Stephenville and Happy
The move also forced provincial emergency response officials to house and
care for the estimated 13,000 unexpected travellers from around the world. As part of the
effort to house the thousands of flyers whose planes landed at St. John's airport, Memorial
offered room in the Thomson Centre and the Aquarena as a temporary home for about 500 people.
|Cots laid out in gym
They were provided a bed or a cot, meals, access to washroom facilities and showers and
communications with their family and friends who were unaware of where they had landed.
Students from Paton College residences helped university officials and EMO volunteers in
setting up the temporary accommodations. For the next several days, these and many other
students were available to provide help and assistance to the visitors. Faculty served as
translators while others were conspicuous in their efforts to provide a break from the
waiting with concerts, special lectures and films. A spur-of-the-moment concert organized by
the School of Music was a huge hit among the stranded travellers.
President Axel Meisen said
the Memorial University community - students, staff and faculty - came together in a
tremendous effort to make the unexpected visitors welcome and comfortable. "All volunteers
and employees can be justifiably proud," he said in an open letter to the university. "Your
service and kindness were an impressive display of Memorial's ability to respond in a time
of great need. But more than that, it was an illustration of the great spirit that is
central to Memorial University."
President Meisen praised the volunteer staff from all
sectors of the university who came forward to staff the 24-hour emergency housing operation.
"They ensured that the travelers were provided with the necessities of the moment: from
telephones to mattresses and bedding, from food to clean clothes and clean facilities, from
a pleasant chat to a comforting smile. Many of you also kept your part of the university's
operations going while you were volunteering or while many of your colleagues were away
volunteering. Some of you volunteered but were not called in; I wish to thank you as well
because your offer of help meant we could handle the situation with the confidence that we
had back up, if needed."
The travellers were finally able to leave Newfoundland by
Saturday, Sept. 15, but many claimed they would not soon forget the people of the province
and the university. Some made donations to the university as a way of expressing their
thanks. In response, Memorial will establish the Sept. 11, 2001, International Travel
Bursary Fund, which will assist students from other countries to travel to Memorial
University for studies. This bursary will be a perpetual memorial to those who died in the
tragic events of that day, while it also fosters international relations. The university's
Office of Alumni Affairs and Development is overseeing the development of this bursary.
© Copyright 2002 Memorial University of Newfoundland
Memorial in the International Community
Memorial's School of Nursing was involved in improving the quality of nursing education in Vietnam. A joint project with the School of Social Work targeted the area of social services and health. Dr. Elizabeth Dow, Social Work, and Dr. Lan Gien, Nursing, joined forces to better the quality of life in rural Vietnam by improving social services for women, children, the elderly and disabled people. Dr. Ken Barter and Sharon Taylor of the School of Social Work are also members of the team. The five-year project received a grant of $749,000 from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), administered by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). Dr. Gien heads up a four-member team of nursing faculty from Memorial who work with the Secondary Technical Medical School One in Hai Duong province to train nursing teachers who, in turn, teach courses to nurses in Vietnam in areas such as mental health and primary health care.
Professors from a variety of faculties at Memorial participated in a unique 10-day professional development program in St. Petersburg, Russia, in May 2000, led by Dr. Terry Murphy, dean of arts, in collaboration with the Academic and Management Training Centre in Tsarskoe Selo, the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, the Canadian Consulate in St. Petersburg, various universities, governmental and non-governmental bodies in Russia. At the inaugural reception at the Canadian Consulate in St. Petersburg, Linda McDonald, Canadian consul general, said this was the first academic-professional project of its kind initiated by a Canadian university.
In conjunction with the Klaus Tschira Foundation and the International University in Germany, the Centre for Management Development in the Faculty of Business Administration, organized a number of courses for visiting German students, including Newfoundland folklore, geography, economics, and fishery studies. This is all part of a new exchange program that will be highly beneficial to both universities.
A workshop entitled Newfoundland and Labrador Studies and Galician Studies: Cultural Identities, Power, and Place on the Atlantic Borders of Two Continents was sponsored by the Faculty of Arts in the fall. Researchers from both regions presented a number of papers that examined a number of economic, political, and social similarities between Galicia (on the north-west coast of Spain) and Newfoundland and Labrador.