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Educators swift to reassure after Boston blasts

The news that one of the dead in the Boston Marathon bombings was a Chinese national studying at Boston University has been a reminder of the subtle yet combustible relationship between international education and security concerns. Education institutions reacted swiftly to calm worried parents about the incident, for which no culprit has been found.

Photo: Getty Images.

"Our hearts go out to her and her family and friends"

The third person to die in the bomb blasts that occured near the finishing line on Monday was named as Lu Lingzi, who used the name Dorothy Lu in the USA. Another international student friend of hers was injured. According to news reports, after studying international trade in China and working for Deloitte, Lu arrived in the US to study a postgraduate degree and was “living her dream”.

Chinese graduate student named as third victim. Photo: Linked In.

Chinese graduate student named as third victim. Photo: Linked In.

Colin Riley, Executive Director of Media Relations at Boston University, pointed out that the tragic events occured over a mile away from campus, but that they had hit “not only our city but our university’s community”.

“Our hearts go out to her and her family and friends,” he said.

Boston University posted guidance for concerned students on its website, and offered counselling and advice for anybody requiring it. Riley noted, “We have reached out to all students, and in particular international students, encouraging them to connect with their families.”

Language schools also told how they moved swiftly to reassure their partner agents and student network following the bomb blasts, which coincided with Patriot’s Day, in a city known worldwide as an academic hub.

“We were able to email all our Japanese agents by the time they woke up”

Speaking from OISE Boston, an English language and professional training centre located just one street from the blast, David Newton, Divisional Operations Manager, explained that the school’s first priority had been to account for its students’ safety, and alert agents and family back home.

He told The PIE, “Our first thought was to make sure all students were accounted for and safe. We realised we had a three-hour window, for example, before Japan woke up. We have a lot of Japanese students and professionals studying with us and we were able to email all our agents by the time they woke up so they would not panic.”

OISE Boston remained closed on Tuesday but was open for business by the Wednesday.

“Students and parents appreciated the gesture as it brought some normalcy back to the students’ lives”

At CATS Academy Boston and ONCAMPUS Boston, both colleges operated by CEG, Olga Karanikos explained that the company focused on first ensuring the safety of all students (and communicating this) and then on ensuring that they remained engaged with their fellow students during the disconcerting lockdown that followed in parts of Boston.

As well as organising a day of games and movies for their on-campus students during lockdown, Karanikos told The PIE that high school students were treated to a day out after the lockdown period to enable them to focus on other things.

“Once the city was safe again and as a reprieve from the stress of the week, the school staff took the students on a day trip to the seaside town of Rockport,” she said. “Students and parents appreciated the gesture as it brought some normalcy back to the students’ lives and also got their minds off the events of the week.”


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