Loyola students studying at the John Felice Rome Center (JFRC) who are in Paris are safe and have been accounted for following the series of attacks on Nov. 13.
Cynthia Bomben, associate dean of students at the JFRC, said in an email to The PHOENIX that JFRC students in Paris have been contacted and reported that they are OK.
“By way of our travel log, social media channels and protocols, we are continuing to monitor their status,” said Bomben in the email.
Sophomore political science major Kathleen McGivney, 19, from Chicago, was meeting some friends in Rome when she heard about the attacks.
“At first I didn’t know what had happened. I thought it was just an isolated incident,” said McGivney. “I didn’t think it had to do with terrorism, but as the story progressed it became clearer that people were being killed purposefully on a large scale. It was tragic.”
Sophomore Magdalene Lenczowski was in Paris at the time of the attacks.
“We had just gotten back from the Louvre museum and got notifications [of the attacks] on our phones from BBC news,” said the 20-year-old nursing major from Chicago. “I was immediately in grief about what happened.”
Lenczowski reached out to family and friends at home to let them know she was safe. She said Loyola has been helpful in reaching out to ensure the safety and well-being of students in Paris.
Junior Molly Frank was in Paris visiting family members when the attacks happened.
Frank said her initial reaction was confusion, but once she realized the severity of the situation she reached out to loved ones at home and assured them of her safety. The 20-year-old international studies major from Lenexa, Kansas, also said the university has been great in assisting students during this difficult time.
“I’m fully aware that this sense of security, my ability to fly out of the country easily and the knowledge that my family is safe is a privilege that a significant number of people here in Paris and around the world are not afforded today,” said Frank. “It’s important to maintain a sense of perspective and gratitude.”
Vice President and Director of the JFRC Emilio Iodice released a statement via email to the JFRC community regarding the attacks.
“We encourage all students, faculty and staff as well as international partners to ensure that they are getting the most current information and are able to help faculty, staff and students with their support during this challenging time,” Iodice said in the email.
He said the JFRC works with local authorities and the U.S. Embassy to ensure the safety of all students, faculty, staff members and the JFRC campus community. In addition, the JFRC has security procedures in place to ensure the JFRC community is updated on the status of the situation and what is being done about it.
“We want to assure our entire community that we will continue to do all we can to stay vigilant and keep everyone informed and safe,” Iodice wrote in his email. “[People should] immediately contact us here in Rome should they need assistance from us and to update us on their current status.”
The Associated Press (AP) reported that 127 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded in multiple attacks across Paris, for which the Islamic State has now claimed responsibility.
A mass shooting at Bataclan, a popular concert venue in Paris, is believed to have had the highest death toll with an estimated 87 people killed there, according to the Guardian.
Two restaurants were targeted by gunmen killing and wounding more than 30 people, according to French officials in a report by The New York Times.
The New York Times also reported at least two explosions were heard near Stade de France, a popular sports venue, during a France-Germany soccer game which was quickly evacuated.
Among those evacuated was French President François Hollande. Hollande declared France to be in a state of emergency for the first time since 1961 and he is considering an extension of three months, according to the Guardian.
France’s international borders are open; however, there are strict border controls in place and civilians should expect a heightened security presence throughout France, according to Loyola’s international insurance provider, Cultural Insurance Services International.
In lieu of the attacks, the world has taken to social media and is standing in solidarity with France using the hashtags “#PrayersForParis” and “#JeSuisParis” and updating Facebook profile photos with French flag filters. An image of the Eiffel Tower as a peace sign has also gone viral and several countries have lit national monuments in the color of the French flag to show support.
Senior Cassady Wahl, 21, triple major in international studies, finance and French, is studying in France at Université de Pau et de Pays de L’Adour.
“Being in France during this time has been difficult,” said Wahl. “So many people have reached out to make sure that I’m safe and to let me know their thoughts and prayers are with me. In devastating, incomprehensible times like this, it is comforting to know how small the world is and how much love really exists despite those acts of pure evil.”
Despite the tragedy, Wahl still believes there is good in the world.
“Whether it’s fear, sadness, confusion or a combination of the three, we all stand in solidarity with the victims and their loved ones,” Wahl said. “In crisis, find community, in confusion, find faith, and in fear, find hope that the good in this world truly outweighs the bad.”
The AP reported that security is being increased across Europe. Travelers and citizens are advised to be cautious and aware of their surroundings.