A Difficult Time

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A Difficult Time

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I stopped watching all media on TV after Tuesday's convocation. I have not see the majority of the video played on NBC, but several of my VT alum friends told me about how disturbing it was. Personally, I think it would be too painful to watch.

The following is part of a blog post I wrote on Tuesday late night / Wednesday morning after the convocation.

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Never in a million years did I think that I would see my alma mater on the news for such a horrific event. I'm finding it difficult right now to gather my thoughts and process what happened on Monday morning at Virginia Tech. It seems ironic that on Sunday afternoon I was explaining to fellow UCSC students how Blacksburg is a little town in sleepy, Southwest Virginia that revolves around the university. Nearly the entire population attends or works at the university--over 26,000 students, probably 3,000 faculty and staff: a total population somewhere between 35,000-40,000. The professors and students form a close-knit, supportive community that I have never seen at the other universities I have attended or visited. Everything shuts down for home football games. The coffee shops, restaurants, and other local businesses revolve entirely around the academic calendar, parent/alumni weekends, and student schedules. Even the bus system is almost entirely students. I am part of this Virginia Tech community forever. Perhaps the best years of my life were spent there. The people I met, the professors that influenced me, the experiences that formed and shaped who I am today. Even though I haven't visited in two years or so, I am once a hokie and always a hokie.

Being at this campus at this time makes what happened at VT real and surreal for me. At first, I didn't know what to make of the situation--it took some time to process. But Tuesday, when I woke up and started reading about the victims and viewing the images... it became much more real. I had history class in the building where most of the murders took place. Many of my friends lived in the same dorms (West AJ and Harper) described. The pictures online and on TV of the buildings and campus I have so many fond memories of--so many images of police with guns, students wounded... It all really hit me when I saw the convocation on TV today--held in the same room where my graduation ceremony was held a few short years ago.

Immediately following the convocation today on TV, just as this was all sinking in, I had to go teach. I was disoriented and I think the students could tell. How am I supposed to focus on positive introductions when all I can think about is what my friends at Virginia Tech are going through? So far, no one I know has been idenitifed as a victim, though my friends at VT are traumatized. One of the victims may have gone to my high school and the one who survived by "playing dead" did go to my high school. The gunman went to high school a few miles away from my high school (Centreville is close to Fairfax, just a few miles West--both are suburbs of Washington, D.C.).

Tuesday it was very difficult walking around this campus where I felt like an outsider or stranger. Not many people seemed to relate closely to what happened on the other side of the country. While my fellow colleagues at VT, GMU, and in DC were mourning and holding vigils, people here were discussing parties on the bus. I don't know how to handle this right now. Where am I?

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Amanda Shuman

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Date

2007-04-29

Contributor

Amanda Shuman

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eng

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Citation

Amanda Shuman, "A Difficult Time," in The April 16 Archive, Item #47, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/47 (accessed October 21, 2014).