January 18, 2005

Tsunami vigil-goers brave cold

Walking across the quads last night, you might have seen a huddle of about 20 students bundled up in coats to spread messages of hope for the people coping with the aftermath of the South Asian tsunami.

The tone was positive, despite the tragedy it marked. "We're here to show our care for those who are in mourning," said Laura Hollinger, interim associate dean of Rockefeller Chapel. "We're also here to lift up hope for the rebuilding of lives and community."

The Model U.N. team organized the gathering last week. Walter Lamberson, a second-year in the College, proposed the candlelight vigil idea.

"I thought it would be a good idea if we did something about the tsunami," said David Siffert, a third-year in the College and vice president of the Model U.N. team. "It's kind of up our alley."

Members of the Model U.N. team sold candles in the Reynolds Club on Friday and Monday. About a hundred students stopped by the table to shell out a few dollars, bringing in $300 to $350 for the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (OXFAM), Siffert said.

Siffert was pleased with the turnout, especially given the biting cold. He said that most of the people who bought candles were clear about not being able to attend the vigil. Though the number was small, the group's force was strong. "There was a very large number of people, but they were also really dedicated people," Siffert said. "The people there were very serious about it. A lot of people came up to me asking what they could do."

After a few minutes of silent meditation, students started talking about different relief projects springing up around the campus. David Clayman pitched his stair climb plan, appealing for more help.

The students who came were glad to have the opportunity to show their concern in a public area.

"I haven't felt like I've been able to make a monetary contribution that would be significant, so I thought a sign of solidarity would be a good idea," said Dennis Corkery, a second-year in the College.

"I think it was a good idea¬óregardless of it being really cold," said Emily Bernhard, a first-year in the College.

Siffert said that tentative plans are being discussed to have similar weekly gatherings at Rockefeller Chapel.

¬óKat Glass