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GWU Remembers Haiti Earthquake One Year Later With Anniversary Ceremony | People

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GWU Remembers Haiti Earthquake One Year Later With Anniversary Ceremony
People, Schools

“Exactly one year ago at about 4:52 p.m., I was sitting at a round table, enjoying rice and beans in the comfort of my home located in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti,” Karl Delatour, a George Washington University Freshman who hails from Haiti, recalled Wednesday as he spoke at GW’s one-year Haiti anniversary ceremony.  “As I reflected on how to go about studying for my upcoming history exam, I suddenly felt the table vibrate.  As this vibration becomes more and more strong, it is not until my glass of water fell to the ground and shattered that I realized that something big was happening…something really big.”

Delatour, whose mother, Elisabeth Delatour Préval, is Haiti’s first lady and a George Washington University alumna, was one of several speakers at the event, which was organized by the GW Student Association and the GW Caribbean Student Association.

“After one year since the earthquake, we thought it would be appropriate to bring everyone together and just sort of remember everything that has happened over the past year,” Jason Lifton, President of the GWU Student Association, said.  “(We wanted to) re-charge everybody and make sure that everyone remembers that what’s gone on in Haiti is not over, and they still need our help.”

Other speakers included GW student and Coast Guard Lieutenant Paul Schurke, who was one of the emergency responders to the earthquake (check out his video interview above) as well as GW’s President Steven Knapp.

“We knew at the time, given the magnitude of the devastation that struck the country and in particular, the capital city of Port-au-Prince, (that) our response was going to have to be a multi-year effort,” Knapp said in reference to GW’s efforts to aid Haiti.  “That this wasn’t something that was going to be easily resolved.”

But the standout speech of the event was undoubtedly Delatour, as he gave the attendees a brief glimpse into the horrific disaster that took place in his home country one year ago.

“As I get up to run to the nearest exit, I notice that everything around me is falling and breaking.  I could only hear myself hyperventilating as I stand underneath the doorframe,” Delatour continued.  “Seven seconds from the end of the quake, I was unquestionably sure it was the end of the world.  I would never imagine something like this would last for more than 37 seconds…that’s more than half a minute of terror.”

The overall message disseminated at the vigil was a call to the greater GW and Foggy Bottom community to not let time bury the memory of the disaster.

“Today’s the one year anniversary of the Earthquake, but just because it’s one year doesn’t mean the tragedy is over,” Lifton said.  “With only ten percent of the rubble cleaned up, and still over one million homeless, the island of Haiti really needs our help.  Today is just a benchmark and a continuation of what will be a continued relief effort.”

People, Schools

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