A few weeks ago, I excitedly met another Oregonian at Ciak Hostel in Rome. A favorite past time of ours was going to Fassi, a gelato shop just a couple blocks away. This was the original gelateria, but we found out that they have a Korean franchise. We joked that we should start a franchise in Oregon, but since she was in Eugene and I was in Medford, we would have to find a midway point. “So Roseburg, I guess?” I figured a franchise there wouldn’t do too well, since nothing really happens in Roseburg.
Now I wish nothing happened in Roseburg.
I got the news ping shortly after the news broke, and continued getting updates on my phone as more information on the victims was released. I know several people going to Umpqua Community College, and thankfully they all ended up being in the right place at the right time, away from the gunfire. But of course it still made my heart hurt that lives were lost, and that it was so close to home. Does it make a difference that I’m currently in Eastern Europe?
In trip preparations, I had thought about what I might do if tragedy struck in a city I was visiting. But I didn’t have a plan for if something like this happened back at home. So what can I do? At first, it may seem like nothing, but in cases like this, here’s what you can do, no matter where in the world you are:
Keep Updated with the News. My Yahoo app has been a wonderful resource in keeping me in the loop throughout this trip. Despite not being in America for nearly three months now, people from other countries often ask me for inside information on American news. At least I know what’s going on.
Keep Updated with Those Close I’m pretty sure anyone who has had a close call with a disaster makes contact as soon as possible to let others know they’re okay. My Roseburg friends posted on Facebook immediately. I also waited for the list of victim names to be posted in case a former classmate or other long lost peer was involved.
Pray Sometimes seems like all you can do. But since prayer gives you focus, clarity, and meaning, it’s often the best thing you can do! Sometimes I equate prayer with worry, which is definitely not supposed to be. Truly praying for a situation means acknowledging its existence, and knowing that, unless you are called upon for a specific task, it is no longer in your hands.
Be Realistic Would I have made a difference if I were at home? Probably not. Sure, I could’ve visited shaken-up friends. But instead they know that people are thinking of them even on the other side of the world. And I could’ve responded as an EMT. Okay, if I actually worked on an EMT squad, and my jurisdiction included Roseburg, then there could be a tiny chance that I would be called to help the victims. But when I thought about that, I would still much rather spend three months backpacking Europe, and I can help others no matter where I am. (And this shooting has been a factor in persuading me to start using my EMT credentials again. I’m not sure yet, but I’m a step closer!)
Be Thankful for Life Remember after 9/11 when so many were terrified to fly? Every accident or tragedy seems to convince more people that the way to live life is to stay at home, locked away from the dangerous world. I really think that this is missing the point. Even if this lifestyle was physically healthy (which it isn’t), it is terrible for mental health. I think getting out there and being adventurous is the best way to overcome. It shows that we are not afraid and that the threat did not win. I think it would be really cool if a group of students had an adventure in honor of this event, to prove that the victims did not die in vain. Don’t live in fear!
I apologize if this post wasn’t up to par with my travel posts or if some of my advice sounded off. This wasn’t really meant to be an advice post, but more of a reminder for me as I still try to process everything that happened. In times like these, I guess it doesn’t really matter if it happened next door or a world away.
Update October 6th, 2015: Yesterday, Rogue CC, one of the colleges I attended, experienced a major bomb threat. As the bad news keeps coming, we need more brave and positive people to bring hope!
Update October 7th, 2015: There is news of yet another bomb threat at another college I attended. So in the past week alone, Southern Oregon colleges have experienced a mass shooting and at least two bomb threats. And the people there were concerned about the places I was going! Safety is not a guaranteed in any situation, so you can use this life fact to your advantage and take adventurous risks, or live in fear and a class sense of security. The choice is yours.