IU students come together to show support for victims of recent ISIS attacks

Candlelight Vigil for the Victims of ISIS

People gather around a display of candles during the vigil. Photo by Eric Rudd of IU Communications.

Post by IU Communications colleague Milana Katic: 

On Nov. 13, Indiana University senior Erik Troske was at the opening night of IU Opera’s “Die Fledermaus” with a friend when he heard the news of the ISIS attacks in Paris.

“The news started coming in from Paris and we were utterly shocked,” Troske said as he remembered learning about the attacks during the show’s intermission. “Your first reaction is that you don’t know how to react. I was shocked, angry and wondering how this could happen.”

As a French and international studies major, Troske was hit a little harder than others by news of the event. He spent his entire junior year of college in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, studying at the Sciences Po Institute. Needless to say, Troske’s life had been greatly impacted by his time in France and the people he met there, and news of the attacks left him dumbfounded.

“To me this was a country that welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like a part of society,” Troske said. “To hear this kind of thing could happen there struck me to the core.”

Student with candle

A woman stands in solidarity with a candle at the vigil. Photo by Eric Rudd of IU Communications.

When Troske received the news he was with Alison Borreau, a friend from his year in France, and a French student currently studying at IU for the year herself. She has family in Paris (who were all found to be safe), so being far away from home during such a trying time was incredibly difficult for her.

“I was seeing one article after another, so at the beginning, I didn’t really know what was going on. Then I got messages from others asking if my family was OK, and I panicked,” Borreau said. “It’s a weird feeling when you’re surrounded by people who don’t really know what’s going on. I started feeling … well, French. You just want to be with the people you’re close to.”

After learning about the similar attacks in Lebanon and Iraq and speaking with a few of the other French students at IU, Troske and Borreau decided that the best way to help cope with the issue was to organize a candlelight vigil on campus for all of the recent ISIS victims.

“I came up with the idea after thinking about an event I attended in France after the Charlie Hebdo shootings. The whole community showed up in the town square to pay our respects,” Troske said. “The Sample Gates is an icon here at IU, and a candlelight vigil is something relatively simple. It’s just to show that we care — that the survivors [of the attacks] and all of the people in Iraq, Lebanon, France, Syria and Russia know that we care.”

The vigil occurred Tuesday night, and was meant to provide a space for students to mourn the victims of the attacks and a chance to discuss all of the recent terror attacks that have happened globally.

Student expressing concern during vigil

A student expresses her thoughts and feelings about the recent global terror attacks. Photo by Eric Rudd of IU Communications.

A student whose family moved to the states from Paris when she was 10 years old thanked everyone for the solidarity. A student from Tunisia shared a story about the terrifying accounts she’s heard from family and friends of what ISIS has been capable of in the Middle East. A Muslim professor asked for everyone to remember to differentiate between Islam and Islamists, especially after these types of attacks.

After the open discussion, there was a moment of silence to commemorate all of the losses from the recent global terror attacks, and the vigil ended with the collective singing of France’s national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” Though most of the attendants seemed to be American IU students and Bloomington community members, it was surprising how loudly it was sung.

“To have to have such an event isn’t a good thing really — I think it’s more painful than anything else to be so far away from home when such tragedy occurs,” Borreau said. “But the American people have been showing a lot of support. There is a lot of solidarity here. I really feel it from the Office of International Services, my professors, my friends — right now, I really feel IU has community spirit.”

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