This week, 35 SU students invite the campus and community to remember the victims of PanAm Flight 103 and celebrate the victims' lives.
Remembrance Week, which focuses on past, present and future circumstances surrounding the events of the PanAm bombing, was organized by 35 SU seniors who were recently named Remembrance Scholars - students who represent the life qualities that were lost in the crash, according to Becky Stander, a scholar and public relations and international relations major.
"We want (students) to know the story and
the victims," she said. "They were students just like us."
The 35 students died Dec. 21, 1988 in a bombing that killed all 247 passengers on board. The students were returning home from a semester abroad.
The scholars are seniors who receive a
one-time $5,000 scholarship in memory of the PanAm 103 victims.
Throughout the week, several events and activities have been planned to heighten awareness of the accident and the victims, said Stander, who is the publicity coordinator for the group. For example, the group chalked the Quad on Sunday afternoon with the names of the 35 SU victims, and tied blue ribbons - to remind passers-by of the event - around trees bordering the Quad.
Each scholar will represent a victim this week by wearing a blue button with the name and face of one of the SU students who died, Stander said.
"Ask us (about the buttons) - don't be
afraid," she said. "Learn the story and remember these students."
Stander said she chose to represent Karen Hunt, who was a native of Rochester - Stander's hometown.
"I remember when I was 12, I saw (Hunt's) name in the paper," Stander said. "I don't remember the details, but that's the connection I had." Dan Forsythe, a scholar and a television, radio and film major, said he had a similar experience, and hopes the week will educate current students.
"We were in junior high when this happened," he said. "As each year goes by, there are going to be more and more students on campus who haven't even heard about (PanAm 103).
"It's really important that they know what
Forsythe will be representing Thomas Schultz this week, a victim who was a student at Ohio Wesleyan but studied through SU's Division of International Programs Abroad. He said he is looking forward to meeting family members of the victims Friday at the convocation in Hendricks Chapel. "I'm sort of anxious," he said. "Every year, we invite (the families) back to remember what happened. I wonder 'Is this a sad event for them or is it a time for hope?'
"I guess it's a little of both."
Stander said she has met some parents, and has a hard time understanding how they have dealt with the loss of a child. "I just think of everything they go through," she said, pausing for a moment to reflect. "We might remember it once or twice a year, but they think of it every day." She added that knowing the impact the scholars were making on campus inspired her to make a difference, but said her feelings were "bittersweet" during the application process. Stander was studying abroad in France when she decided to apply.
"It's an award because people died," Strander
said. "These kids were doing exactly what I was doing."
'Dealing with dialogue'
A problem-solving exercise designed to explore conflict-resolution strategies is scheduled for Wednesday evening. The simulation is meant to remind people that terrorist incidents happen and that they hurt people, Bart said.
"Its about dealing with dialogue," he said. "(Terrorists) get so frustrated that no one is paying attention to them ... they think terrorism is the answer. "That's kind of sick."
Other events during the week include: a
video retrospective on the event and its coverage in the media; a rose-laying
ceremony; a panel discussion including Aphrodite Tsairis, mother of one
victim; and a convocation ceremony including a recognition the 1997-98
Remembrance Scholars, according to Forsythe.
Kim Bart, a scholar and women's studies and public relations major, helped organize the beautification of the Place of Remembrance memorial and rose-laying ceremony Thursday in front of the Hall of Languages.
"I think a lot of times people walk by the memorial without noticing it," she said. "Some people don't even know why it's there."
When she was a freshman, Stander said she attended the Remembrance Convocation in Hendricks Chapel to watch her friend perform in the choir. She had not realized the significance of the PanAm 103 incident until that evening.
"I sat in the chapel and listened to administrators and professors tell of the tragedy," Stander said. "It just blew my mind.
"From that day, I paid attention to it
and when it came time to apply (to be a scholar, the essays were) just
a way I could express what I felt." Forsythe said he became aware of the
scholarship program when he was a freshman, but added that his perceptions
changed once he decided to apply.
"It's an in-depth process," he said, as he recalled the rigorous application process. "It really makes you think, 'How does something like that affect our campus?'"
Bart's interest in becoming a scholar was
triggered by her work with Judy O'Roarke - a senior administrator in the
Office of Undergraduate Affairs - on a book about Dark Elegy, a set of
sculptures made by a victim's mother representing mothers, grandmothers
and aunts of the victims. Thirty-five of the 100 pieces of the traveling
collection were on display for the 1995-96 academic year in front of Lyman
Hall, Bart said.
Carrying a weight
Forsythe said a multifaceted responsibility
has been placed on the recipients of the scholarships in the past few years.
"We have a responsibility to be leaders on campus - to not let people forget what happened nine years ago - so more people can question how (these kinds of situations) can be resolved in the future," he said. But, another significant responsibility lies with the futures of the scholars, Forsythe said. "The students who died in the bombing had goals and dreams," he explained.
"Part of our responsibility is to live out our dreams and go for our goals in our life."
Bart agreed, adding that the scholars play
a role in reminding the world that terrorism still happens and still goes
"(Being a scholar) carries a lot of weight because the PanAm incident is an international incident that still hasn't reached closure," she said. Stander said becoming a Remembrance Scholar has shed light on the most important issues in her life.
"It made me want to put life into every
day and live life to its fullest," she said.
Forsythe agreed, and added that his role as a scholar has made him aware of the his own presence in people's lives around him.
"It has helped me realize that there's a lot more in the world -friendships, relationships on campus," he said, pausing. "To each problem, to each tragedy, there's something that goes deeper."