BLACKSBURG – What makes some people more resilient to tragedy than others? How did this region’s social-services organizations work together after April 16, 2007? How did that response compare to what happened in other places struck by tragedies of their own?
Questions like those are the subject of A Story of Community Resilience: A Panel Discussion, one of many events scheduled for tomorrow’s Day of Remembrance.
The committee that coordinated this year’s remembrance events encouraged activities that would be both academic and inspiring, as a way of honoring the passion for scholarship and outreach demonstrated by the 32 students or faculty members lost April 16, 2007.
The panel discussion, for which doors open at 3:30 p.m. at the Lyric Theatre on College Avenue, is one event in keeping with that theme. Another example is Hokie Stone: An Event of Student Shared Knowledge, which will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Colonial Hall auditorium at Squires Student Center, also on College Avenue.
"I think our audience will be very interested in understanding the concept of resilience, having it explained to them from an academic perspective what the term means, and how it applies to our community in terms of the events of April 16," said Jim Dubinsky, director of the Virginia Tech Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships.
For the event at the Lyric Theatre, Dubinsky will moderate a panel including Alumni Distinguished Professor of Human Development Rosemary Blieszner, psychology professors Scott Geller and Russell Jones, Associate Professor of Sociology James Hawdon, and Community Foundation of the New River Valley Executive Director Andy Morikawa.
Research interests of the faculty members on the panel are related to the ways people or communities are likely to be affected by tragic events. Morikawa was involved in recovery and support initiatives following April 16, 2007.
While those panelists will draw on years of expertise in their fields for their presentations, current students and recent graduates of Virginia Tech will bring a different perspective to the Hokie Stone event at Squires. More than a dozen presenters have signed up.
"Our goal is to have some presentations that show research, but also ones that just show what students are passionate about, whether it’s cultural experiences, leadership, things along those lines," said Graduate Student Assembly President Laura Freeman, a native of Burke who is working toward a Ph.D. in statistics and helped organize the event.
Kelly Wilson graduated from the University Honors program in 2009 with a bachelor’s in human nutrition, foods, and exercise. She’s working toward a graduate degree in physical therapy at Shenandoah University in Winchester, but says she wanted to return here to share how a passion for whitewater kayaking enriches her life, in a talk called "Lessons from the River."
"I lost two very dear friends on the 16th," Wilson said, referring to Ryan Clark and Leslie Sherman. "I was trying to think how I could best portray what they were like and keep their memory alive. A couple of things that stood out to me were that they were passionate about what they did, so I tried to think of something that I was personally passionate about."
While Wilson was enrolled here three years ago, several presenters, including sophomore Nathan Latka, were not but said they still wanted to mark the Day of Remembrance by sharing their stories.
"I think innovation and creativity and passion were something that was very much present in those we lost, and I feel that same passion and energy and drive needs to be reflected and maximized," Latka said.
A native of Leesburg who is double majoring in architecture and finance, he planned to talk about his experience founding several social marketing companies.
A full list of Day of Remembrance events, as well as biographies of those lost three years ago Friday, is online at www.weremember.vt.edu
April 16 Events
• Midnight: Lighting of Ceremonial Candle, April 16 Memorial
• 8 a.m.: 3.2-mile Run in Remembrance, Virginia Tech Campus
• 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Community Picnic, Drillfield
• 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Expressions of Remembrance
• 7:30 p.m.: University Commemoration & Candlelight Vigil, April 16 Memorial