Friday, September 30, 2011

How YJI Uses Social Media

Youth Journalism International co-founder Steve Collins recently wrote up a little article for JEA Digital Media about the way YJI uses social media to try to raise money. Here it is:
Youth Journalism International exists because the web makes it possible for a small public charity in Connecticut to create a worldwide classroom that draws together students from countries all over the world.
None of them pay a penny to participate.
So the obvious way for YJI to raise money is, of course, online.

While we’re a long way from funding the staff needed to handle the crush of young people seeking to join, we are, haltingly, discovering how to tap the power of social media to pull in some badly needed cash.   Here's a link to read the whole piece.

By the way, if you can help YJI with its crucial mission to educate young people around the world, give them a voice and bring them together, we would be grateful. YJI is a 501(c)(3) public educational charity in the United States and donations to it are tax deductible.
To give, please see our donation page here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Afghanistan Suffers Routine Terror

By Edrees Kakar
Senior Reporter
KABUL, Afghanistan – Mourning is becoming routine among Afghans.
Two days ago, a suicide attacker killed Burhannudin Rabbani, Afghanistan’s former president and chief of the high peace council of Afghanistan formed last year to persuade and negotiate with Afghan Taliban for reconciliation.
This suicide bombing occurred during a meeting at Rabbani’s home with an apparent Taliban messenger for peace talks who brought in the bomb through his turban.
The bombing was the second major incident in Kabul since the 10th anniversary of 9/11, which did so much to shape world politics and provided the basis for international forces to oust the Taliban regime from Afghanistan for harboring Al Qaeda, the terroristic group that masterminded the attacks.
The event was marked as a global catastrophe, with victims hailing from 90 countries that made the massive loss of life agonizing in many lands.
As the Persian poet Saadi explains it in his poem which makes up the motto of the United Nations: “The sons of Adam are limbs of each other, having been created of one essence. When the calamity of time affects one limb, the other limbs cannot remain at rest. If thou hast no sympathy for the troubles of others, Thou art unworthy to be called by the name of a human.”
Only two days after the 9/11 anniversary, when Kabul residents joined the world in mourning the nearly 3,000 victims, the capital witnessed a rigorous 20-hour attack that deepened the fears of already frightened citizens.
Life in the city was totally locked up for two days while forces battled with the attackers. Though Afghanistan has suffered three decades of civil war and anarchy, the scale of civilian losses the last couple of years has grown ever more worrisome.
With the assistance of the international community in the last decade, Afghanistan has seen a huge number of enhancements in many different sectors of our life.
However, establishing peace and tranquility across the country has remained elusive – and a big disappointment.
The routine incidents of terror in Afghanistan make Afghans feel gloomy as they ache for peace and find none.
While the interference of Pakistan and Iran in destabilizing Afghanistan through various terrorist networks are the focus of much attention, many here also blame the big powers for remaining indecisive or playing a bigger game that keeps Afghanistan as a battleground in their quest for dominance.
On this year’s anniversary of the 9/11, many Afghan Facebook pages cited as their status “Your 9/11 is our 24/7” or something similar. It’s also been the topic of conversations and local newspaper articles as Afghans reflect on what’s happened since terrorists attacked the United States.
Afghans have never lost sympathy for the victims of 9/11 – and even the routine terror attacks here in Afghanistan accelerate the sympathy of Afghans toward the victims of the collapsed World Trade Center buildings.
But Afghans want the nations of the world to have the same grief toward the calamities that happen in Afghanistan as they show when terrorists strike elsewhere, to recognize that Saadi’s poem, written back when the Mongols were marauding across the civilized world, applies to Afghans the same as everyone else.
Though no single day in Afghanistan matches the scale of 9/11, a decade of frustration and failure at bringing peace here has brought far more death and destruction than Americans can imagine.
We need to achieve a durable peace in this war-torn country.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Armenia Celebrates 20 Years Of Freedom

Planes display Armenian flag colors as they fly by.
Immediately below, soldiers marched in the Independence Day Parade in Yerevan.

By Narine Daneghyan
YEREVAN, Armenia – Though Armenia is an ancient country with a history stretching back thousands of years, it recently celebrated its 20th year of independence.
Armenia marked its Independence Day on September 21, celebrating the restoration of its republic after 70 years of occupation by the Soviet Union.
The festivities started with a military parade in the Republic Square of Yerevan, the capital.
King Argishiti, who ruled 2,700 years ago,
Narine Daneghyan
and a guard on Northern Avenue, Yerevan.
The biggest display of the country’s military might in five years, the parade featured thousands of troops as well as tanks, artillery systems, warplanes and other military hardware.
Armenia’s political leadership, ambassadors of different countries and thousands of ordinary people watched the parade through the city’s main square.
There were also mass celebrations all over the country.
Republic Square
Traditional Armenia fashions
The “Heroic Ballade” concert performance was the main event for the 20th anniversary of independence. It presented the key episodes of Armenian history accompanied by classical works of famous Armenian composers.
Using 3-D graphics, the show turned the buildings of the Republic Square into screens displaying episodes of the history of the two decades of independence. Its fountains, including new moveable ones, served as water screens.
Colorful fireworks completed the performance.
Narine Daneghyan beside a military truck.

Art exhibit on Northern Avenue, Yerevan.

Noori Concert Opens College Year In Karachi

Shahmir Ahsanullah /
Ali Noor performs at the Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali
Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology
in Karachi, Pakistan last week

By Waleed Tariq
Senior Reporter
KARACHI, Pakistan – Noori, a rock band from Lahore, took the stage to open the school year as the Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) welcomed its new and returning students in its own unique way.
Noori played at the SZABIST Student Council’s Fall Welcome Concert last week, drawing more than 600 students at the campus' 100 Garden.

After a host of other events, the organizers of Freshmen Induction ’11 rounded up a very successful Week of Welcome. It was a fun-filled episode put together with a night with Noori, where the students put on their dancing shoes and swayed to the enticing music.
The Sept. 20 Noori performance was the first time that a concert has been a part of the University’s Welcome Week events.

The show began at 10 p.m. sharp, and brought in almost 650 students by then, said Omar Sarwana, sales lead of the student council.
With more than enough registrations for the concert, the lawn was packed with students excitedly pouring in, ready for a great night.
Shahmir Ahsanullah /
Ali Noor interacts with the crowd
“It’s been great here. I love it,” said social sciences senior Rida Fatima. “It’s always worth it to be at a Noori concert, and after a solo performance by Gumby, it’s completely awesome.”
The band rallied the audience by playing “Manwa Re” and “Dil Ki Kasam,” upon which they continued to belt out their other classic numbers.
“It’s a great event – epic performance by Noori, and I’ve enjoyed a lot after a very long time,” Batool Zahid said. “It’s like being back in your teens.”
Other than Noori, Jumbo Jutt, an emerging local rock band, also played. Moreover, Zab Olympics, the campus’ own version of Olympic sports, and a Societies Fair were also a part of the Welcome Week activities.
With the entire administration and seniors welcoming the flock of new students, SZABIST pulled off a great night and a successful Week of Welcome, setting a promising example for future student councils at the campus.
Shahmir Ahsanullah /
Noori on stage at SZABIST last week, welcoming new and returning students

Face Painting At The Bristol Mum Festival

YJI photo
Back row: Yelena Samofalova, Mary Majerus-Collins and Kiernan Majerus CollinsFront row: YJI Co-founder Steve Collins, YJI alum Danielle Letourneau and YJI alum and Ambassador Collin Seguin

BRISTOL, Conn., U.S.A. - Youth Journalism International took part in the Mum Festival in Bristol, Conn., for the first time this past weekend. We staked our booth - a yellow umbrella shielding a small table in a in a sea of larger tents set up around us - and got to work telling people about this wonderful organization.

It's always easy for us to brag about our talented students, but never as much as when they're standing right there with us. It was especially great to have Danielle Letourneau and Collin Seguin, two graduates of Bristol Central High School, with us to greet their hometown crowd. Both of these standout YJI alums give us plenty of reasons to be proud. Danielle just earned her master's degree in child psychology from the University of Hartford and Collin, a UConn law school graduate, is a practicing attorney in Connecticut's insurance industry.

We were honored and grateful that both Collin and Danielle gave YJI so much of their time yesterday.

Danielle had the great idea to offer face painting at our booth, and thanks to her, we had a steady stream of kids eager to be transformed. Our three high school students who gave their time on Sunday (and Saturday) did their best to make the kids happy.

Our top face painting artist was Yelena Samofalova, whose skill with the crayons turned children into butterflies, tigers, cats, puppies, Batman, Spiderman, Superman, and even a dinosaur. It was tough to tell who was happier with the results -- Yelena or the child looking into the mirror. While everyone bowed to Yelena's superior artistic skills, other students picked up the crayons, too.

YJI photo
YJI students paint faces at the Mum Festival in Bristol, CT
YJI photo
YJI students Mary Majerus-Collins and Yelena Samofalova take a break from face painting at the Mum Festival to display their handiwork

YJI photo

In the end, both Mary and Yelena decided to wear the Bat Signal.

We are happy to have such enthusiastic students and talented artists!

Thanks to everyone who helped make the Mum Festival possible and to all who supported our efforts there. It was fun.

To see larger versions of the photos, click on one of the images.

YJI photo
Side view of our booth on Sunday.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

YJI's Booth At The Mum Festival In Bristol

Here's our dedicated crew out early at the Mum Festival in Bristol, Connecticut on Saturday, ready to greet the people and tell everyone about the joy and wonder of Youth Journalism International.

That's Kiernan Majerus-Collins, Mary Majerus-Collins and Steve Collins behind the booth.
We've got some cool YJI props and a few little gifts for donors. Those are mums out front on the ground, in case you're unfamiliar with the city's signature flower.

In the background, people are inflating a hot air balloon. Unfortunately for us, the drizzle started and the balloon was put away before we could get a ride.

Not long after the balloon departed, the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day at the festival.

We'll be back again on Sunday, with more YJI students and alumni, so if you are in the neighborhood, please stop by to say hello!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pakistan's Public Health Enemy Number One

Arooj Khalid, a Youth Journalism International student in Lahore, Pakistan, wrote about an outbreak of dengue fever in her country. Read that piece here.

Below are photos she took of billboards warning of the fever, which is spread by mosquitos, a close-up of a photo of a mosquito feasting on human flesh and the type of stagnant pools of water that serve as prime breeding grounds for the mosquitos.

Arooj Khalid /
Billboard in Lahore, Pakistan, warns
 people of mosquito-borne dengue fever

Arooj Khalid /
A mosquito:
the creature responsible for spreading the fever

Arooj Khalid /
Stagnant water, shown above and below,
 is a prime breeding ground for mosquitos.

Arooj Khalid /

Arooj Khalid /
Arooj Khalid /

Saturday, September 17, 2011

In London, A Truly Wonderful 'Wizard Of Oz'

Photo provided /
Michael Crawford as Professor Marvel, Danielle Hope as Dorothy 

By Emily Couch
Junior Reporter
LONDON, England – I followed the Yellow Brick Road to London’s world famous Palladium to see the original American fairy tale – The Wizard of Oz.
The story begins on a farm in Kansas where the heroine, Dorothy Gale, dreams of something more.  A powerful cyclone grants her wish by dropping her into the magical Land of Oz. 
Having been hailed as a hero for having killed the Wicked Witch of the East, Dorothy and her unusual set of friends must travel to the Emerald City to find the Wizard and save the day.
In 1939, the famous film version starred Judy Garland, who performed at the Palladium herself.
The search for England’s Dorothy began just over a year ago on the BBC reality TV show “Over the Rainbow,” which held auditions all over the UK, whittling down 9,000 hopefuls to a final 10 who competed to win the country’s favour.
The panel of judges included:  John Partridge, who was part of the filmed version of Cats, Charlotte Church a Welsh soprano, and the famous British actress, Sheila Hancock. 
The judges, who were of course presided over by the man behind it all, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, chose 19-year-old Danielle Hope as the people’s Dorothy.
A momentous task lay ahead of her in playing Judy Garland’s iconic role.  Could she fill the Hollywood star’s ruby slippers?
As it happened, she stepped right into them and they fit her just as well as the glass slipper fit Cinderella. 
Hope was careful to remain faithful to Garland’s portrayal whilst also bringing her own slightly edgier quality to the role. 
This brought Dorothy forward into the 21st century so many younger members of the audience could relate to the “nobody understands me” sentiment. 
Hope proved to be a real triple threat.  Her beautiful singing, subtle yet characterful acting and her fancy footwork on the yellow brick road were all flawless.
Theater legend Michael Crawford, whose credits include the title role in the iconic Phantom of the Opera, played The Wizard, Professor Marvel, the Doorkeeper and the Tour Guide.
The ease by which he moved between four different roles with four different accents is testament to the sheer quality of his acting.
Although no longer in its prime, his powerful voice remained firmly intact, bringing down the house at the end of Act 1.
Emily Tierney played a wonderfully bubbly Glinda and gets to show off her amazing soprano throughout. She also brought some of Glinda’s comic value from her portrayal of the Glinda in Wicked, adding a new touch to the original role.
Hannah Waddingham was a truly Wicked Witch in both senses of the word. Perfectly portraying the epitome of evil, Waddigham was definitely a match for Dorothy, and wowing the audience with her show-stopping performance of “Red Shoes Blues.”
The little West Highland Terrier who played Toto was, of course, a big hit with the crowd, gaining many a well-deserved “awww” for the cute factor and for his seamless performance.  
The Scarecrow (Paul Keeting), Tin Man (Edward Baker-Duly) and Cowardly Lion (David Ganly) were all brilliantly played, bringing in the timeless humor of their characters. 
The set had the typical magic of a West End show. The Palladium’s rotating stage was put to good use as the Yellow Brick Road, the Witch’s castle and many other scenes.  Designers used the trick of perspective to create a seemingly soaring palace for the Wizard.
The aptly-used projections designed by John Driscoll added a new, techy edge to the show, taking us from Kansas to outer space.  
The creative team also had a particular proclivity for pyrotechnics, which were used regularly throughout the show. 
The costumes were all nearly identical to those of the 1939 movie with the exceptions of Glinda and the Wicked Witch. Instead of the large, pink, wedding cake-esque dress of the movie, Glinda gets to wear a magical, glittering blue dress with a hairdo reminiscent of a squirt of blue whipped cream.  
The Wicked Witch got to shed the shapeless costume of the movie for a sleeker, more feminine, black corseted dress to compliment her green body.
The show included all of Harold Arlen’s original award-winning music plus seven new songs by Webber, including Professor Marvel’s “Wonders of the World,” Dorothy’s “Nobody Understands me,” the Witch’s “Red Shoes Blues” and the chorus number, “Already Home.”
The show definitely had echoes of Webber’s other shows. The exciting new technology and projections seemed to be influenced by those used in the Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies
The Wizard’s song, “Bring Me the Broomstick” was a potent reminder of Phantom of the Opera, especially with Crawford’s voice booming around the theater.  
All in all, the Wizard of Oz is an immensely enjoyable show for all the family, providing a much-needed magical transportation from everyday life.
You’re left thinking, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in London anymore!”
The production is certainly a worthy resurrection of the classic film loved by generations.
If you happen to be in London, I strongly suggest you hop, skip, jump or hail a taxi down the yellow brick road to the London Palladium to see the truly wonderful Wizard of Oz.   

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dengue Fever Hits Pakistan, Closes Schools

By Arooj Khalid
LAHORE, Pakistan – Mosquitoes seem to love the taste of Punjabi people.
A spreading epidemic of the fearsome dengue fever has swept Pakistan for the last few weeks and grown so severe that schools have been closed for 10 days to help protect students.
Dengue fever is a virus that is spread by a specific mosquito, causing patients to get fevers as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit along with rashes all over the body. It ends in a scarcity of blood platelets in patients, killing some.
It’s an awful scenario that has people worried.
We hear such comments as:
“Oh, the son of uncle Naeem has been diagnosed with dengue!”
“Do you know? Aunt Shaista has been infected with dengue, too!” and
“A friend of mine is suffering from dengue, while the cousin of another just died due to it.”
Listening to such depressing statements all of the time, it is really hard to stay happy, especially knowing that many thousands of Pakistanis are diagnosed with dengue fever every day.
Like everyone here, I don’t even know if I am safe or not. I follow all the safety rules, but who knows? There might be a dengue mosquito in my own room.
This is the season of monsoons, so water gets stored in various places and mosquitoes easily start reproducing.
Dengue fever also spread last year, but there were only a few cases.
This year, though, it’s an epidemic.
The government has taken radical steps to control the virus, but dengue fever continues to hit around the country, especially in the province of Punjab and its capital, Lahore.
Provincial health officials estimate nearly 3,000 people in the Punjab have been hit with dengue fever so far.
The government is trying to control the disease, including a widespread awareness program.
Spraying to kill the mosquitoes is underway in all areas of the province by welfare organizations, the government, police, and others.
Dengue wards have been made in the hospitals and emergency procedures have been imposed in the hospitals of Lahore.
Sri Lanka and other friendly nations have sent experts, staff, medicine and other aid to try to help.
Medical experts are searching for medicines for the dengue, too. There is no vaccine.
In a nutshell, the government, doctors, students, parents, police departments, and the science and medical experts of the country are doing their best to save lives.
I hope this panic takes no more lives and that life can return to normal soon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Decade Later: Collected Thoughts Of 9/11

Thoughts about Sept. 11, 2001 collected by Youth Journalism International students in interviews and in some cases, offered in personal essays by the YJI students themselves:

There was a stiffness in the air.  It was a day without smiles.
  – Kiara Christensen, American high school student living in Saudi Arabia

I was in my first year at university. One of my friends often read the news from CNN so the morning after that (when the event took place, it was night in Viet Nam due to time zones), she told me about it. My very first reaction was kinda naïve. I was like, “How come?” because at that time, I believed the U.S. is a big and powerful country and it could not be attacked just like that. And you know, there was no sign of it. Actually, I have never thought of terrorism before that. To be exact, the term “terrorism” had not been popularized before September 11.  Now it is prevalent.
I don’t think Viet Nam received much of an impact because until now, the concept of “terrorism” is still foreign to us. But for those superpowers, in EU for example, there will be attacks.
Hoa Trinh, 27, an English teacher from Ha Noi, Viet Nam

I was watching how the reporters worked near the towers, risking with their lives, giving us information about what was happening. Maybe on that day I decided to become a journalist.
– Narine Daneghyan, college student and YJI reporter in Yerevan, Armenia

The way that everyone came together after the attack was simply amazing. People helped one another in any way they could, no questions asked, no second thoughts. People realized after 9/11that anyone can be a hero by helping those in need.
 – Mariah Pulver, college student and YJI reporter in Fort Worth, Texas

His eyes met the body of man jumping off of the 80th floor. Not knowing exactly what to do, the father and son sat and watched the building continue to burn, witnessing the deaths of many people escaping a fiery end by instead jumping to their fate. “It was like every minute people were jumping, one after another.”
–From an account told by Thomas Panevino, a college student in Florida who was a Manhattan seventh grader on 9/11

The twin towers have fallen, but not my faith in a better world. May God bless the souls of the innocent dead. As a Muslim I believe they are all in heaven now as martyrs.
 – Jessica Elsayed, Egyptian college student in Ohio

You don’t want to wake up a sleeping giant. Under Clinton, no invasions by U.S., only airstrikes. After September 11, two invasions under the name of “revenge.” The main impact, as everybody knows, is the segregation of the Muslim community in the US.
 – Giang Nguyen, 17-year-old high school student from Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Even with the naïveté of seven-year-olds, we could understand that the severity of the events were great enough that it would change not only America, but the world, forever.
– Evan Pogue, American high school student and YJI reporter living in Saudi Arabia

There really aren’t any words to describe how shocking it was. There still aren’t.
Maurice Murdock, an advertiser working in New York City

It wasn’t until one of our teachers shared an essay from a former student – a boy who had lived in Manhattan and survived the attack on New York – that the lesson of 9/11 sunk in.
 – Cresonia Hsieh, high school student and YJI reporter in Florida

When I look at 9/11, I try to think of all those individuals. All the people they met and touched, all the lives they affected and the individuals they loved and cared for – husbands, wives, sons and daughters.
– Adam Kelly, high school student and YJI reporter in Torbay, England

No true Muslim or Arab, or any decent human being for that matter, would defend what happened that day. If the attacks were orchestrated and conducted by extremists, then there is no reason to punish an entire population or ethnic group for it… It is time to put those differences aside, open our eyes to the truth and pray for all the lost souls and victims of 9/11, whatever their ethnicity, their color, their religion, their beliefs or their sex.
– Lama Tawakkol, high school student and YJI reporter in Cairo, Egypt

My heart froze as I realized that some of the tiny dots on the television screens were actually people jumping to their deaths. Normal people like my parents who had just gone to work that morning, expecting a normal day. This was not a movie.
– Caroline Nelissen, college student and YJI reporter in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

YJI reporters who contributed to this collection but are not named above are Emma Bally in  Brooklyn, New York and Thuy Le in Ha Noi, Vietnam

Heavy Rain Lashes Karachi

Waleed Tariq /

Waleed Tariq
Senior Reporter

KARACHI, Pakistan -- Floods triggered by monsoon rains crippled Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city and the nation's commercial capital.

The stock exchange, businesses, schools and most banks remain closed Tuesday as rains are forecast until Wednesday.

In the photo above, commuters cross a flooded street during a heavy monsoon.

Monday, September 12, 2011

YJI To HuffPost: Leave Those Kids Alone

Journalism has always been a field with lousy pay, crummy hours and miserable bosses. But even so, what The Huffington Post and Patch are planning is unusually sinister even by the standards of the news industry.

HuffPost High School is planning to open the doors for bloggers as young as 13 to prattle on in a particularly iffy section of The Huffington Post without editorial guidance and, of course, without pay.

They’re no doubt supposed to deliver a younger audience to the online monster so it can bolster its bottom line by peddling a few extra advertisements. In return, the kids get to see their precious words in print, unaware that they’re also getting the shaft from a company only too happy to exploit them mercilessly.

This is especially alarming to Youth Journalism International and, no doubt, other nonprofits and organizations that have spent years crafting systems to mentor young writers.  We edit carefully. We teach. We try to learn about our students and to develop relations that foster their spirits as well as their talents. They are students who, when they grow up, often become friends.

What’s the difference from what we do and what The Huffington Post and Patch are aiming for?

We don’t exploit our students. There’s no profit at Youth Journalism International. Heck, there’s hardly any money at all. We just work thousands of hours a year to make sure students who participate experience the joy of publishing news, columns, pictures, comics and more that meet our high standards.

Our students get the same thrill of publication that any HuffPost High School blogger might feel with the added bonus that they know what they’re sharing with the world has been vetted by professionals, crafted with care and treated with respect.

There’s honor in that, for us and for our students.

We can’t accept that a major corporation – AOL – would create a system that mercilessly takes advantage of young people.  Young writers deserve a helping hand, not just a platform. They deserve to have their voices heard, but they also deserve to be taught. They deserve to have caring adults looking out for their best interest.

Obviously, Youth Journalism International believes that young people should have a voice. But it shouldn’t be harnessed in servitude to big business.

9/11 Memorial: Mourners, Merchants, Singers, Skeptics Gather Near Ground Zero

Emma Bally /
Janice Nickerson, whose cousin died in the terrorist attacks on 
9/11, wears a shirt Sunday in New York that bears his photo.

By Emma Bally
NEW YORK, N.Y., U.S.A. – A sea of people flowed from block to block at the 9/11 Memorial site in Lower Manhattan on Sunday, all marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
Some stopped to take pictures and some proudly held up images of loved ones lost on Sept. 11, 2001. Some were natives of New York City, and some came from other countries.
A single tragedy brought all of these strangers together.
On a perfect day in early September 10 years ago, terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into World Trade Centers One and Two, the Pentagon, and into an open field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Almost 3,000 people died that day, and many more lost spouses, parents, siblings, or children.
“I was kinda confused at the time 'cause I was 11,” said Janice Nickerson, a retail worker in Brooklyn. 
Nickerson was one of the many family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks. Her cousin died on that fateful day 10 years ago.
Jody Madell was teaching at the New York City Museum School on 9/11, close to the World Trade Center.
“We got the news of things happening little by little,” Madell said. “People were very confused. We didn’t let anyone leave the building.”
Parents came to pick up their kids, Madell said. One parent came in and just started crying and crying, she said.
Madell said that the kids didn’t get why everyone was crying.
Afterward, Madell was scared that students would start “hating Muslims no matter what.”
Before the 9/11 attacks, Madell taught a curriculum about the world’s different religions and beliefs.
Emma Bally / youth
One World Trade Center,
under construction
“It was supposed to get students to appreciate the beauty of people with different beliefs,” she said. “I feel it is an important job as a teacher to get people to understand people who were different from them, I was afraid it [9/11] would interfere with that.”
Ten years after the attacks, a new building is under construction where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. Along with it came a new spirit of hope and peace.
There were white ribbons tied to the fence at St. Paul’s Church, and singers could be heard singing “Amazing Grace” and “America the Beautiful.”
Despite the calm mood, shouts and chants could be heard from across the street.
People who believed 9/11 was an inside job were positioned holding signs saying “Danger! USA Did 9/11.”
Las Vegas engineer David Hart was among the protesters. When asked why he thought the United States was responsible for 9/11, he answered simply, “Because I have a lot of questions that the government won’t answer.”
“My rights were destroyed when the towers came down,” Hart said. “The Patriot Act was written to protect us from terrorists, but it’s being used against us. I don’t trust my government. Actually, I don’t have a government. My government died a long time ago.”
In addition to the chants by intense protesters, persuasive voices hawking products also filled the streets.
Lined up across the blocks were young and old entrepreneurs, seizing the opportunity to sell flags, models of the buildings and water. People also handed out pamphlets ranging from, ‘Christ and 9/11,’ to ‘Judaism and 9/11.’
Police officers were grouped together at every street. They declined to be interviewed, saying they were told not to offer an opinion.
Vinny Mastorpasqua, a retired fire fighter who lives in Staten Island, gave a heroic account of the day of the attacks.
“I was at home,” Mastorpasqua said. “After the second plane hit, I came to go to the site.”
He “dug through the rubble, searching for any sign of anyone,” Mastorpasqua said. He said the fire department had six moments of silence for the 10th anniversary.
Maurice Murdock, an advertiser who works in New York City, summed up the horrific day.
“There really aren’t any words to describe how shocking it was,” he said. “There still aren’t.”
Emma Bally /
A new sign in the Chambers Street subway station