About 100 students and staff gathered on O’Neill Plaza Tuesday night for a vigil for victims of recent natural disasters in Mexico and Puerto Rico and the mass shooting last week in Las Vegas.
The vigil, co-sponsored by Catholic Relief Services and several student cultural groups, featured two students’ and a professor’s testimonials of how Hurricane Maria and the earthquake last month in Mexico have affected them and their extended families back home.
Edgar Sanchez, LSOE ’19, who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and grew up on the nearby island of Viques. Sanchez, his mother, and siblings live in the U.S., but his extended family still lives on Vieques, which he hasn’t been back to since 2003. His mother called him Tuesday morning to tell him that his grandmother is in critical condition.
“I think it’s time for me to finally go home to see my island,” he said. “To us, it feels like [the United States] hasn’t done enough, and we feel helpless.”
He called for students to focus on aid to hurricane victims. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, other Puerto Rican students called for more support from the Boston College community for hurricane relief.
Mariela Páez, a Lynch professor from Puerto Rico, has worked at BC for 14 years and said she has been on the mainland for longer now than on the island.
“It wasn’t until 20 days ago that I realized my heart is always in Puerto Rico,” she said. “Since then, it’s been a struggle to see … all the suffering and all the need and not be able to do more.”
“I feel guilty that I’m safe here … I went food shopping the other day and almost cried in the middle of Whole Foods, because I can’t believe we have so much right now, and they have so little,” she said.
Gerardo Martinez Cordeiro, MCAS ’19, who is from Mexico City, talked about the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that occurred there last month, killing several hundred, injuring thousands, and leaving over a million with damaged property.
“That realization that it can happen to you, happen to anyone, and that you won’t feel it coming, is something that’s going to haunt us in Mexico for a while,” he said.
But, he added, he’s been encouraged by Mexicans’ response to the earthquake.
“I think there’s something about these natural disasters that brings out the best in everybody,” he said.
Featured Image by Sam Zhai / Heights Staff