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Faculty Stranded by Attacks
Took Vigil From Overseas

Date: Sept. 25, 2001
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Archive: Campus News

Travel disruptions resulting from the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11 led to an opening day of classes at UC that had some faculty members stranded overseas and unable to return for the university's opening day.

Sticker from BerlinAccording to a provostal check prior to the first day of classes, at least eight faculty members were not able to get back to the United States in time for the university's first day of classes on Sept. 20.

Vasso Apostolides of Professional Practice had been scheduled to return to Cincinnati from Greece on Sept. 12, the day after the attacks. Because of the airline shutdown in the United States, she couldn't return until Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. She had been visiting her mother on a Greek island and had flown to Athens a day in advance of her flight to come home when the terrorists flew jetliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. She spent a few days watching the news on CNN in tears and visiting cousins in the suburbs of Athens for an unscheduled week.

"The sentiment was very pro-American in the media there, in the streets and talking to my friends and relatives. The Greek government was very pro-American," she said.

When she finally arrived at the airport in Cincinnati, an official sign greeted her, "Welcome to the United States," with a homemade sign underneath saying, "America welcomes you home." Said Apostolides, "I burst into tears. I couldn't help it." She was very relieved to be home in Cincinnati and to see her two sons and grandchild.

Although he wasn't here for the first day of classes, Richard Schade of Germanic languages and literatures did make it home just in time to teach his first class on Friday, Sept. 21. He arrived home at 11 p.m. the night before, about four days behind the original schedule. Schade and faculty member Klaus Mladek had accompanied a study tour of 15 students to Berlin Sept. 5-16. They found out about the World Trade Center attack while touring a museum, when a guard told them. At first they didn't believe him.

Brandenburg Gate demonstration

Later in the week the students, Mladek and Schade participated in candlelight vigils, plus a massive demonstration at the Brandenburg Gate, along with 200,000 other people. Half the crowd stood in the former East Berlin and the rest stood on the other side of the gate in the former West Berlin.

At the demonstration, the crowd remained somber. "Some people had banners, some flags, some said, 'We need justice,' others urged care with retaliation," said Mladek. Adds Schade, "The students felt there was a great deal of solidarity in Berlin for America and Americans in this moment of trial...Berlin's relationship to the United States has been a special one ever since the airlift in the late 1940s, President Kennedy's speech and President Reagan standing in the same spot saying Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall." The Reagan speech was also at the Brandenburg Gate.

The students were interviewed for articles about the attacks in the International Herald Tribune and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

A large group of faculty from the UC College of Education encountered some delays getting home from abroad, following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Piyush Swami, Jeff Gordon, Pat O'Reilly, Estela Matriano, Linda Taylor, David Naylor, Peter Cardullias, Jim Koschorek, Joyce Pittman and UC student Sue Fan Fu were in Madrid, Spain, attending the WCCI Tenth Triennial World Conference when the attacks occurred. Piyush Swami, UC professor of teacher education, is president of the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction and was organizer of the conference with UC Professor Estela Matriano. Swami says he first learned "something had happened in New York," when he called his wife Cathy after he finished a lecture Sept. 11. "It was around 9:10 a.m. and she was listening to a news report. She said it looked like a plane collided with one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

"I immediately went to the Internet and tried to connect to CNN, but it was impossible. I was eventually able to get to MSNBC and the news pictures were coming in."

Swami adds Jeff Gordon, professor of educational technology, along with Peter Cardullias, were able to patch in the audio of Cincinnati radio station WLW. "All of the local news was in Spanish, so Jeff got the WLW report in English and we watched the pictures coming through Spanish television."

Furthermore, Swami says the 65 Americans at the conference were able to get messages back home, thanks to help from UCit. He says phone calls and emails were impossible because of the busy circuits, so Professor Jeff Gordon collected messages, phone numbers and emails from Americans at the conference and sent the messages to Theresa Peter, a UC applications analyst. "Theresa was able to relay the messages and emails to different people around the country and by midnight, we were able to get messages back from everyone in the United States," says Swami.

Swami says because of the ban on air travel shortly after the attack, some professors arrived home later than they had planned, but everyone was back in time for the start of the fall quarter. Swami says he had scheduled a later departure date from Spain and arrived home Sept. 17. The WCCI conference was held from Sept. 9-15.

Faculty members among those stranded on Sept. 20 were: Benjamin Britton, DAAP, who returned in time for his first class on Monday; Shami Manar of Applied Science and Noriko Fujioka, Lilly Narusevich, Lynne Schepartz and Laura Jenkins of A&S.

Among the students who were overseas at the time of the attacks was Amy Steinmetz, an Honors-PLUS junior who visited England after an Honors-PLUS study trip to Europe concluded on Sept. 10. She spent a lot of time after the attacks watching CNN and checking the news online. "I did a little more sightseeing, but it was kind of hard to have a good time while there was so much pain back home. People would ask if I was American and when I replied I was they had nothing to say except that they were sorry for what had happened. It was a weird feeling that everyone everywhere was thinking about the same event. I would get on the Tube and everyone was reading the same newspaper and having the same conversation."

She and Honors Scholar Carrie Foulk attended a memorial service at St. Paul's Cathedral, waiting in line for quite some time. They never actually made it in the church. "The service opened with a hymn and then the Star Spangled Banner. There were many Americans there singing along. During the anthem a plane flew over and then just disappeared into the clouds, a silent reminder of what had happened over the last few days."

Steinmetz was interviewed by Fox News in front of the cathedral.

"I am certainly glad that I was in England at the time. The president was right when he said they are our best friends. After being there, I can say its true, I felt the compassion myself."

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