10 Seconds That Changed Everything

Modified sign in Sumner after earthquake

Thank you to all who have sent well wishes and expressions of care and concern following the Christchurch earthquake. We are so grateful that all of our students and our program assistant, Liz Yoder, are safe and with no injuries to speak of. Our students displayed remarkable judgment during the event and we are very proud of them for their resilience and ability to deal with adversity. We are also grateful for the good work of Patty Lamson and Jen

Part of a cliff that fell away in Sumner

Lewis in IPO in communicating with parents for us and Peter and Nicole Blair and Bill Buskirk for working quickly to come up with contingency plans for us.

We have evacuated to the North Island and are now safely in Wanganui at the Quaker Settlement. The last 5 days have been surreal. We lived out of our apartment with three other students and our program assistant with no water or power. We used a nearby swimming pool for drinking water for a couple of

Boulders on our street! They came from the hillside up above

days until relief supplies arrived (I won’t go into what we did with our, ah, “waste”!) An entire cliffside collapsed right out our kitchen window and, sadly, there were two deaths from that event. Helicopters and planes buzzed overhead throughout the days and the apartment shook with aftershocks seemingly constantly. The kids took it as well as can be expected and we were grateful for the help of Air New Zealand in booking us a group flight out so fast. Some of us still feel “phantom” aftershocks even though we are no longer there.

Walking down street right after it happened to pick up our daughter at school

It is absolutely devastating to learn what has happened to “our” city. It feels like a second home for Marcie and me as we have spent so much time here over the last six years. The students also grew close to the city remarkably quickly through their homestays and internships. Sumner, the suburb where we live, is in very bad shape and still lacks water and electricity. Lyttleton, the small port community over the hill where two of our students interned was heavily damaged (it was the actual epicenter of the quake) and almost all the historic buildings will be condemned. The central business district of Christchurch is an absolute mess with many people still feared buried under rubble. The liquefaction in the eastern suburbs has rendered them almost unlivable and mass evacuations over the next few months are likely. It is so hard to see this happen given all that these folks have been through these last 5 months since the Sept. quake.

We are also reminded of the privilege we have to be able to have the resources to leave and that we have it much better off than many in this tragedy and we can only think of them and hold them in the Light during this difficult time. We feel guilty that we have left our friends in their time of need.

After consultation with many both in Christchurch and back at Earlham we have enacted our contingency plan which was to re-group back on the North Island in Wanganui at the Quaker Settlement. Patty was smart enough to ask us to work on that plan back in Sept. when the first quake struck. They have kindly opened their doors to us and welcomed us back and we are so grateful. The work in front of us is daunting: set up a new program here in Wanganui for the next two months including finding homestays, lecturers, and internships not to mention trying to get our family settled and the kids into new schools. But, we have a lot of support and it looks like we will be able to pull something off here.

We do plan to return to Christchurch at the end of April so students can pick up their things and fly out back to the States. In any event, we will all have to be quite flexible as we go to “plan B” in terms of curriculum and classes. One student remarked, “this is a chance to experiment with what education really is, isn’t it? This will probably be like the coolest educational experiment since, you know, John Dewey!” So, we have our light hearted moments as well.

We remain grateful for the little things: water, food, shelter and the warmth of human relationships. New Zealanders are practical, proud, and helpful folks and we have lost count of the number of times we have seen this displayed in the last week. Thank you again to all for your expressions of concern and for your prayers. This city will need a lot of love sent their way for a long time. We are working on where we would encourage people to send donations to the city and should have that up on our blog site before the end of the week.

In peace,

Jay and Marcie Roberts
2011 Program Leaders

p.s. one final note. Pay attention to those who preach “emergency preparedness.” It is amazing how important things like candles, water, food, battery powered radios, and a gassed up car become once a real emergency happens!

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5 Responses to 10 Seconds That Changed Everything

  1. Terri Sasanow says:

    Jay and Marcie thanks so much for taking such good care of everyone. I send lots of hugs to all–especially Sydney. phone home ET

  2. Cathy Anthofer says:

    Yes, emergency preparedness seems un-needed until the worst happens….

  3. Kit Huffman says:

    Hi, Jay Roberts. We would like to ask permission to publish the photo from your blog about the New Zealand semester abroad of Madeline Peck, working on a service project (she’s cutting down an invasive plant). We’ve been in touch with her mother here in Lexington, Va., and with Madeline, and we plan a short article about her experience during the earthquake. She also wants to perhaps raise local donations for relief work in Christchurch.
    We would like to have a photo or photos of the earthquake, taken by Madeline or others in the program, but don’t know if these are available. Meanwhile, there is the photo of Madeline doing the service work. May we please have permission to use this in our paper?
    I’ve also contacted a media representative at Earlham to ask about this, not knowing if you have ready internet access.
    We’re on deadline, since we come out on Wednesdays.
    Thank you.
    Kit Huffman
    staff reporter
    The News-Gazette
    Lexington, Va. 24450

  4. Myriam Johnson says:

    Jay, Marcie and Liz,
    Thanks a million times for your leadership during this disaster. We are in awe of your resiliency, creativity and positive attitude that you continue to display during this challenging time. You are great role models, and we want you to know how much we appreciate it! We hope your 2 little girls are doing well, and we only wish you the best as this adventure continues.
    Hugs and much love from Scott, Myriam, Eva, Scooter and Stanley (Sarah’s family)

  5. Chris Nicholson says:

    Dear Marcie, Arden, Ellie, and Jay,
    I feel as if I am very late in contacting you but when I look at the dates it’s only 6
    days since your letter 10 Seconds that Changed Everything. I am so glad that you
    are all together!!
    This is the first time that I’ve seen your blog and I’ve enjoyed reading about the hiking
    and the birds. I have to look them up but I do know that I have stamp pictures of most of them. We miss you Ellie and Arden! Much love, Chris and Ed Nicholson

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