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April 16, 2013

Boston-area students respond to bombing

Twin explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday left a trail of terror and devastation in Boston, killing at least three people and injuring over 100. But the effects of the blasts stretched far past the city, as friends and family of the attendees anxiously waited to hear news of their loved ones. UChicago students from the Boston area had a particular plight, dealing with the tragedy in their hometown from almost 1,000 miles away.

Second-year Mike Andersen’s brother, a Boston College student, ran the Marathon and finished shortly before the blast occurred.

“My brother was finished with his race, and he was in the train station, and he said that they started evacuating the train station…and then they got outside and it was really crazy,” he said.

“For sure, you think, it could have been anyone there, so he was lucky, because it could have gone off at any time. It’s a good thing he trained really hard and finished before they went off.”

First-year Emily Benjamin’s mother was in the crowd cheering on her friend when the explosion happened. Benjamin said her mom actually saw the explosion but was uninjured. The friend she was cheering on had crossed the finish line three minutes before the explosion and was also uninjured.

“Of course it saddens me, and then it just disgusts me,” Benjamin said. “I’ll look at pictures, and it was right in Copley Square, which holds so many wonderful memories for me. I just can’t imagine anybody doing this to such a wonderful city, and so many wonderful people. I don’t understand how anyone could do that.”

Benjamin said she often goes to Copley Square, where the explosions happened.

“That was very hard to see—the places I’ve been walking even two weeks ago on spring break, now have blood on the sidewalks,” she said.

Social media played a large role in how most UChicago students from the Boston area found out about the explosions.

“I first heard about it on Facebook, but I just thought it was a small explosion until my [news] feed started blowing up, since all my friends are from Boston,” third-year Yaxi Wang, who grew up in Boston, said.

Students were grateful that social media allowed them to quickly verify the safety of their friends and family.

“[Having social media] was a big deal for us, because my brother didn’t have a phone on him when he was running, so the only way we heard about it at first was one of his friends posted something that made us realize he had finished and was safe,” Anderson said. “It would have been a lot more worrisome for us, but we figured out pretty quick that he was OK through Facebook.”

Even amidst the horror caused by the blasts, Bostonians were proud of the spirit displayed by their city and their country.

“I think it’s truly amazing how everyone ended up helping and how people are donating blood even after running the race. It just shows the solidarity of everyone in Boston,” Wang said. “I think this only makes the country stronger, and I don’t think the people [responsible for the attack] accomplished what they were trying to do.”

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