Life Back to Normal in Santiago

By Carolyn Clark
Shaun Janis and Mollie Teeter

Only a few days after a magnitude 8.8 earthquake shook Chile, life in Santiago is calming down for the 19 Syracuse University undergrads studying in Santiago, Chile. With classes scheduled to begin on Monday, March 8, the students are gearing up for the semester.

“Everything has returned back to normal,” Leilani Mroczkowski, a junior studying in Santiago, said Tuesday via Skype. “We had orientation/seminar today. It was so good to see everyone!”

After the earthquake, Mroczkowski, an international relations major, said in an e-mail that she thought SU was handling the situation “poorly.” While she received many e-mails from the SU Abroad center in Santiago, she and the other students hadn’t received any contact from the administration at the Syracuse campus.

“Actually from SU in NY I personally haven’t received anything,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s because I’m on a different listserv for being abroad.” She has, however, received many e-mails from the SU Abroad center in Santiago regarding Read More

the other students’ safety, communication between the school and their families and how to contact the host families of all the students to get in touch with other people in the program.

The senior vice president for public affairs, Kevin Quinn, explained, “In any of our SU abroad sites, the most effective and direct way to get in contact with the students is through the resident director of the program on the ground. It’s also important for us to be in contact with him to get real-time, on-the-ground information and feedback on what’s happening, especially in events like this. In this case the resident director was able to tell us the conditions in Santiago.”

An hour after the earthquake struck, the resident director in Santiago, Mauricio Paredes, was able to contact Syracuse University, who informed the students’ families that the students were accounted for and safe.

Students in Syracuse were not, however, notified through e-mail about the students’ safety. Mroczkowski said that most of her friends found out what was going on from the news and social networking sites like Facebook.

Instead of the usual “Message from the Chancellor” e-mail, the Chancellor’s office put out a statement on its Web site and sent it to the local media, Quinn explains. “We don’t always put out a message from the chancellor. In this case, the students were safe, and our first priority was to make sure the students’ families knew they were safe. In case there was anyone who wasn’t able to find out about the students, we posted the information on our site.”

Less than a week after the quake, things are quieting down; and students in Santiago are gearing up for classes to begin on March 8 at Universidad Catolica and on March 15 at Universidad Chile.

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