Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Growing Up, Moving On

High school graduation arrived for the class of 2001 just as it had for the tens of classes before. The idea of college loomed ahead, a window to the real world presenting an escape to freedom. oving on to Georgetown meant leaving the nest, exploring the possibilities of the future and growing up. Unlike the budding college freshmen of past years, however, the incoming class of 2005 was forced into facing adulthood prematurely following the shattering events of Sept. 11.

Leaving home for their first year at college, most students were faced with apprehensive parents. No doubt they made their parents proud by coming to attend Georgetown, yet the question still remained – why the need to go so far? After all, what was wrong with the local state school? Maybe nothing, but no one cared to find out. How could anything beat Washington, D.C.? A balanced mix of both business and pleasure, the pulsating heart of the nation seemed to lure any curious student. So with bags packed and butterflies fluttering in their stomachs, the 1,500 Hoyas of 2005 journeyed to the nation’s capital to perpetuate Georgetown’s 200-year-old tradition.

Becoming acclimated to a new environment is always challenging and last year’s freshmen were just like the others that preceded them. New Student Orientation proved completely overwhelming; the first week of classes generated mass confusion; the idea of unlimited New South cuisine had quickly lost its appeal.

Every aspect of freshman year seemed to perfectly pattern the normalcy of any other year. “I was so excited to meet new people,” Anda Halilaj (COL ’05), a native of Queens, New York said. “After the attacks of Sept. 11 happened, I tried to pretend like it wasn’t real. I tried to joke and laugh. A few days later, everything settled in.”

One thing, however, changed everything.

Sept. 11, 2001 was unlike any other that preceded it, and every subsequent Sept. 11 would possess a whole new meaning.

Tali Trigg (COL ’05) grew up in Sweden. Through various visits to the United States he began to gain an understanding of the diversity of the nation. Though many of his friends were critical about American ideals, Trigg knew from his experiences that the U.S. was unlike those he’d had in any other place.

“America differs so greatly from the East Coast to the West Coast to the Midwest,” Trigg said. “It’s a place where people appreciate anything and everything that is different.”

The flexibility of the U.S. university system encouraged Trigg to pursue higher education in the states.

“American college is not just work. There’s so much more to college like the people and the community atmosphere,” Trigg said. “It’s a place of opportunity. You can really do anything you want.”

The day before he arrived at Georgetown, Trigg stopped off in New York to meet his roommate-to-be. Their meeting place was the World Trade Center.

“If I fly into Paris the first thing I look for is the Eiffel Tower; when I get to New York, I look for the World Trade Center,” Trigg said. “To me it is was the biggest and most symbolic thing of America.”

Two weeks into the school year, Trigg was settling in nicely. He’d made some close friends and was feeling good about the overall experience. On Sept. 11 he found himself in a very unique position.

“It was said that we shouldn’t let terrorists change our way of life, and it was kind of interesting because I didn’t really know what the American way of life was,” Trigg said. “To me though, it didn’t matter who was in those buildings because we all felt the loss.”

It was a time for students to come together, a time for all people to come together. Some students longed only to return home to be with their loved ones. Some students feared what home had in store for them.

For Erica Weisgerber (COL ’05) going to college was her first time away from home. A native of Long Island, Weisgerber said Sept. 11 left her with a loss to which not many others could relate.

“I felt really disconnected from my family and everything that was going on back home,” Weisgerber said. “Being here at Georgetown softened the blow. I didn’t really realize the magnitude of the events until I went home. There, that’s all you see and hear about.”

Anda Halilaj (COL ’05) said she felt very empty when she returned to her home in Queens, New York for Thanksgiving break.

“I had been at the World Trade Center a couple of weeks before school started,” Halilaj said. “It’s strange how something that you know so well is just gone all of the sudden.”

The first few days after the attack, Halilaj admits that she tried to keep her spirits high, but after a few days the reality set in.

“Most people felt bad, but I don’t think there was any way for them to understand what we lost as a city of New York,” she said. “When it came to understanding why we went to war, we had a different perspective. We knew the people who died.”

As conflicting ideas of culture and politics permeated the Georgetown campus, students struggled to regain strength as individuals.

“I was so excited to come to Georgetown,” Diana Herh (COL ’05) said. “After Sept. 11 I got really scared.”

Herh, who had crossed the country from California to attend Georgetown, said the university community was supportive enough to help her deal with what had happened, but that there was virtually no way of assuring her concerned parents that everything was going to be OK.

“My parents started asking me if it was the wrong decision for me to be here,” Herh said. “I’d tell them how much I loved it though and how I felt safe. My family suffered more than I did because they didn’t know what it was like to be on campus; they had no idea what was going on.”

The attacks of Sept. 11, though perhaps bringing the student body closer together, forced some freshmen. Deeper questions about life and death, ties to family and home, as well as what it meant to be an American surfaced in everyday conversation. An increasing awareness spread across the country and across Georgetown.

“No matter where you come from, we are all connected,” Weisgerber said. “Things will change, people grow, but what really matters is that we have respect for our community, both at Georgetown and beyond.”

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