Friday, Nov. 13: one of the deadlest attacks on French soil since WWII. At 9:20 p.m., an ISIS suicide bomb was detonated outside the soccer stadium on the north side of Paris, France; soon after gunmen stormed the streets opening fire in restaurants, bars and a concert hall killing 129 people and leaving 352 others severely wounded.
Now, thousands of miles from home, Western exchange students mourn for their country.
Foreign exchange student Fab Forestier was working at the International Fair when he heard the news about his home country.
“ Even if I don’t have family in Paris, I was really shock[ed] by this news. Even more as the places targeted are frequented by young and innocent people. And when you think that you could have been there it sends shivers up your spine. But I feel like most of the people horrified by these barbaric acts,” Forestier said.
In a time of mourning many individuals have mixed feeling about France’s retaliation against ISIS.
“France is hard now to have a clear opinion [on]. On one hand I [am] proud and happy that my country is ready to fight and will not let such horrible things happen without punishment. But on the other part, I think about the innocent people who will die in the affrontment there and especially during the bombing. I also hope that the presidents from all the big countries will leave aside their differences and work together to eliminate the threat without leading to a war of greater amplitude,” Forestier said.
Despite the political tension, French Professor Susie Hennessy feels the best way Western students can aid the French students is by offering emotional support.
“I think it is just saying that ‘we support you and we are with you,’” Hennessy said.
Western President Robert Vartabedian was pleased with the support students continued to show the French students during the international fair on Monday, Nov. 16.
“Understanding the importance of internationalization and opening the doors of communication, in hopes that the world moves in an open and positive direction. Unfortunately there are world events that are incredibly frightening, so we are doing all we can to open up the channels of communication. I just think our international students are a wonderful examples and I think our domestic students are as well in terms of the way they communicate with and embrace international students,” Vartabedian said.
International students stand united to lend support for their French peers and continue to educate other students, in hopes of a more tolerant tomorrow.
“Be[ing] part of the international family is an all new, amazing experience for me and the international fair was a really good example for that, because people were willing to know more about our countries and our culture that was really a great moment,” Forestier said.