A magnitude 8.3 earthquake struck the coast of Chile on Sept. 16, killing at least 11 and prompting the evacuation of more than one million people. Eleven Georgetown students, all uninjured, are currently studying abroad in Santiago and Valparaiso.
Office of Global Education Director Craig Rinker worked with the Council on International Educational Exchange, a nonprofit that manages international study abroad and exchange programs, to make sure all the students studying abroad were unharmed. Students were contacted through local CIEE point persons and directly by email.
“I am happy to report that all Georgetown students studying in Chile (in Santiago and Valparaiso) are safe,” Rinker wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Our office worked with our program partner, CIEE, to confirm that all students are fine. The Office of Global Education has also reached out to the Georgetown students directly, to offer any support or additional services as needed.”
Madeline Sposato (SFS ’17) and Sophia Wood (SFS ’17) are currently studying in Santiago, 145 miles away from the epicenter.
“In all honesty, I realized we were shaking but didn’t realize it was that large a quake until I saw Chileans running towards the escalators in a panic,” Sposato wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We’ve been notifying our families and friends back home on our status and those of other fellow Georgetown students with whom we’ve been in contact. We’ve made a point to look out for our friends in the program.”
Wood added that they were never threatened by tsunami warnings, which were issued closer to the earthquake’s epicenter.
“We were having tea when his grandma came in to tell us there was a tremor, which was about when I started to feel it,” Wood added. “We are far from the water here, so the tsunami warnings were not applicable to us; we just made sure that everyone we knew was safe.”
Matt Raab (SFS ’17) is studying abroad in Santiago, and said that the earthquake was stronger than usual (full disclosure: Raab is a staff writer for The Hoya).
“We get small earthquakes that Chileans refer to as temblors all the time,” Raab wrote in an email. “But then it kept getting stronger, things started to shake, and my host family started to look a little disconcerted.”
Raab highlighted Georgetown’s rapid response to the situation through both the CIEE and the Office of Global Education.
“Georgetown support has been great,” Raab wrote. “The CIEE program here in Santiago has plenty of planning in place for earthquakes like these, which aren’t extremely uncommon here. The Office of Global Education has reached out to us to make sure we’re all okay, and I feel like I have all the support I could need. Things are going back to normal here, and people are moving on for the most part.”
Hoya Staff Writer Katherine Richardson contributed reporting.
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