La Verne Magazine
Summer 2002


Insightful Foreign Viewpoints

by Terry Birdsall
photography by Juan Garcia


Affected little by the events of Sept. 11, international students Matt Reilly, England, and Melanie Hanik, Germany, continue to enjoy their tennis games. Reilly says, "It was interesting to see how another culture deals with terrorism," referring to his country's struggle with the Irish Republican Army.

ULV Foreign students, Melanie Hanik from Germany, and Matthew Reilly from England, are accustomed to a life surrounded by tragedy. Their viewpoint similar to other foreign students is quite different from American's reactions to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. "Things like this happen every day in England, and it doesn't reach the front page at all," says Reilly. He explains when more than 3,000 people were killed in the Irish Republican Army, it did reach the front page of the newspaper, but no extra fuss was made about it. "The media in England will talk about it in black and white facts, then explain what policies will be implemented to prevent it from happening again," says Reilly. "They try to instill security in the public's mind."

In America, people are not experienced with terrorism so they are shocked when it happens here. Family and friends of Reilly agree that "because America has so much power, the American people have the attitude that no one would dare touch them." Reilly criticized the way the media dealt with the attacks of Sept. 11. "I didn't think it was necessary to have 24 hour coverage on television for days. It strikes fear in people. I was just sick of it. It was almost a joke."

The political response to the attacks poses two questions: What should we do about the attacks? What can be gained from this experience? "I think George Bush dealt with it in the right way," says Reilly. "I think Americans are correct in going to Afghanistan. President George Bush will get more support in building up the military."

Prime Minister Tony Blair of England looks at strengthening the alliance of foreign policy by offering help. Reilly says he thinks it is an advantage for England to help America because "If something should happen to England, like war or economically, America will be there for us."

When tragedy strikes, people are more watchful and take extra measures to assure their safety. "I think America is going to be the safest it has ever been, because Americans are on full alert," says Reilly.

Parents of foreign students were frightened for their children's safety being so far away from home. Students were put in the position of consoling them. "My family was frightened for me at first, but now it's OK," says Melanie Hanik, a German exchange student. "I'm here so I see the situation, so I feel safe." Even so, Hanik says she was concerned like everyone else about what happened and whether foreign students would have to go home.

Traveling to the United States is terrifying for relatives and friends who want to visit students. "I have friends from Germany who wanted to travel to the United States but were skeptic," says Hanik. "Now, nothing has happened, so they are coming."

Millions of people in the world have been affected by the terrorist attacks. Every person is watching collectively to see what changes will occur. The continuing global struggle for World peace seems more important now.