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Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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How tragedy affects how we look at the world

By AMINA MAMATY

“Take good care of yourself, and most importantly, don’t you trust anybody,” whispered my mother to me before I hopped on the plane for Michigan.

I thought, “Oh well, what can really happen to me there?” I’ve said before that my love for this country is bigger than the Eifel Tower, but there is this feeling that I can sometimes forget – but never get rid of – when I am in the United States: the feeling of being unsafe.

Since 2008, I have witnessed too many tragedies. In 2008, during my exchange student year, one of the students got shot at the bus stop, for no reason. In 2010, another one is accidently shot by one of his best friend. A couple of months later, another student got shot at the gas station. In 2011, one of my friends died in a car accident. I could go on and on, and there are a lot more stories, those are just the people I knew. On the other side of the ocean, there is nothing of that sort. I am very thankful that I never had to experience this when I was at home. On another note, it is sure making me realize how short our existence could be. I get a reminder whenever I watch the news. It is so depressing. I have never felt like this before so I stopped watching. I don’t recall television having that effect on me and being so sad back home, or maybe I am too naïve.

Why is it that in France, my people are fine, and everybody else is fine, and here, people around me are falling like dominoes? Shootings and deadly car accidents do not happen that often where I am from. I have never thought that I was some type of invincible mutan either and that I will live forever, but it confirmed to me that anything can happen at any time. If I had to worry about getting shot ran over or getting into a car accident every single minute, I would never be able to live correctly and enjoy life. But I do think about it a lot. I have many of friends who themselves have lost a couple of important people in their life, but they’re still standing. I admire that a lot. The American population seems so strong and has always been realistic when it comes to the view of life. Maybe they should show more American news overseas so the shock is not so huge when people decide to come over here.

I never tell my parents what is really going on here, I know they would freak out and probably send me back home. I wait until I go home to tell those stories. When they hear something tragic on the news about the United States, they call me right away to make sure that I am safe. I however know that Allendale is a safe place to be and feel very comfortable here.

You can’t live if you scared, and can’t be scared to live either. Be careful out there. I know one thing for sure – the snow falls on everyone.

amamaty@lanthorn.com

Published February 3, 2013 in Global Perspectives

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