Four East Central University students – Hillari Snider, Ben Godwin, Baylee Williams and Yin Lai – are fine and doing well in France after terrorists ravaged portions of the city of Paris Friday, killing in excess of 120 people.
Dr. Mara Sukholutskaya, director of ECU’s Global Education Program, was able to contact those four students, who are attending the University of Limoges through ECU’s Study Abroad Program, over the weekend. Limoges is a three-hour train ride from Paris.
Williams, of Chickasha, was actually in Frankfurt, Germany, over the weekend and had concerns about getting back into France, but was able to on Sunday. Snider is from Chandler, Godwin is from Ada and Lai is from China.
“They were all fine and appreciated our concern. I was also able to contact our counterparts at the University of Limoges (a sister institution of ECU),” said Sukholutskaya. “I expressed our condolences on behalf of our university and they appreciated the outpouring of sympathy and words of encouragement. They said France will stand strong and I believe they will.”
Some of the ECU students had Facebook posts late Friday and declared they were safe.
Snider posted: “For anyone that has heard about the terror attacks in Paris. I am not there, so no worries about my safety. I'm still in Limoges this weekend safe and sound.”
Wendell Godwin, dean of the ECU Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business, posted that his son Ben was fine – “Thank God, our son Ben is fine! He is safe in Limoges, France. We appreciate everyone's concern and prayers!”
Ben was able to visit with his parents on Skype late Friday.
Sukholutskaya understands something like this can happen anywhere, but you cannot run.
“You just need to exercise caution and good judgment and live your life,” Sukholutskaya said.
Sukholutskaya is all too-familiar with terrorist activities from her home country of Russia, which have taken place for centuries.
“It’s a reality of life and we need to learn from it…keep our eyes and ears open,” said Sukholutskaya. “We need to realize the difference between critical remarks and hatred. The hatred needs to stop. I was very upset and angry. They calculated it well in hitting Paris, the City of Lights. France is one of the pillars of freedom, equality and brotherhood in the world. My heart is with French people. The events in Paris brought back painful memories of the Oklahoma City Bombing.”
She believes the terrorists need to be brought to justice.
“There should be no negotiations. Those people have to pay the price,” Sukholutskaya said. “I hope this tragedy will make the world’s politicians overcome the differences among them and unite in the fight for humanity and freedom. Evil can be defeated, only if all civilized nations in the world join their efforts.”
Sukholutskaya also contacted ECU’s four other Study Abroad students in Europe and China. Erin Walling, of Ada, and Briana Fulton, of Tulsa, are studying in Spain. Devin Hargus, of Ada, is in China and McKenzie Grigg, of Lawton, is in Wales are all doing fine as well. Grigg was actually traveling from Dublin, Ireland, when the incidents took place, according to Sukholutskaya.