Foreign Students React to Shooting
Day 3 - Authorities say the man who killed 32 students before taking his own life was himself a student from South Korea. International students comment.
By Brian Padden
BLACKSBURG, Virginia, April 18, 2007 -- Flags are at half-staff at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, some four hours south of Washington, D.C. With classes canceled, few students were out walking the grounds. Inside the war memorial chapel, cadets held an around-the-clock vigil to honor those who died. Outside, students left flowers and condolences at another small memorial. Here, a number of international students gathered, including Ceylan Oner of Turkey. She was off campus when the shooting took place.
"I'm in shock. I'm still in shock. I cannot believe it and it is causing so much disturbance in me.” she says. “This is coming from someone that didn't even see the incident. I cannot even think about people who have been there. And I think it's going to cause a lot of distress in the students."
In the wake of police saying the gunman was an international student from South Korea, some Asian students, such Cambodian-American Virak Kchu, are concerned that all Asians might be blamed for what happened.
"It's always in the back of my mind. It's all friendly and everybody is nice and things like that. But emotions might take over. Somebody gets angry and says this guy kind of looks Korean. Their emotions might take over and I might be that guy," worries Kchu.
Indonesian student association president Rhondy Rhardja says there is no ethnic or cultural connection to this crime. "America is a really nice country. It's a peaceful country. And this incident, it really can happen anywhere in the world. Doesn't matter if it is Indonesia or the United States. It can happen anywhere to anybody."
And this time it happened here in what was once the quiet college campus.