International students affected by Sept. 11 attacks


By Linda Sedjro

Annie Sasidar, Sejal Vyas and Jijesh Devan all left India, their native land, where noise of guns and the continuous threat of nuclear war with Pakistan looms, to come to the "peaceful" land of America. They all arrived during the August 2001, a few weeks away from the start of last school year.

They did not know then that they would enjoy less than a month of tranquility in America before the attacks of Sept. 11 would take place and disrupt the usual peacefulness of the country.

In the aftermath of the events, the three foreign students were in shock. They all said the Sept. 11 tragedy came as a surprise.

One year later, still living in the United States, the students agreed to share their thoughts and feelings about the events of that day with The Gateway.

For Sasidar, a graduate student studying computer science, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 was not different than any other day until she got to work at the computer lab at UNOܬs Peter Kiewit Institute and saw the event unfold on television.

"I could not believe that it was actually happening," she said. "I was not afraid but I was very sad … I was also happy of the response of the country."

Vyas, a graduate management information systems student, said she was afraid the tragedy was going to affect all students from the Middle East.

On that morning, Vyas was working at the convenience store in the student center when she overheard a woman who had just moved to Omaha from New York City talking about what had happened.

She said she first thought it was an accident but shortly after realized it indeed was not.

Coming from India, Vyas "thought people [would] change their behavior toward us but so far everyone [was] cooperative.

"Even after the tragedy, I got a chance to work as an intern with the Omaha police department," she said.

For Devan, the events of Sept. 11 came as a big surprise.

"I heard from a friend that morning that the World Trade Center was on fire when I was about to leave my place to go to the south campus," he said. "I went back to watch television and call my friends in New York to check on them. Then I went to Scott Residence Hall with a friend … everyone was upset and sad."

Like most international students, Devan was scared for his life but said he was confident that most Americans would rise above any hate-driven attitudes and behaviors.

"I definitely knew that what happened is wrong but I knew Americans will not hate us nor act in a hateful manner and what I saw was they behaved well."



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