By Nicoia Maxwell
On Friday, November 13, 2015, the entire world was sent into deep shock and despair after news spread of a spree of terrorist attacks throughout the French capital, Paris. For at least two NJIT students, these attacks occurred in a place very familiar and dear to them: home.
Upon receiving the devastating news, Mamadou Guirassy, a sophomore in the NJIT School of Management, and Sacha Boghossian, a digital design student in her junior year at NJIT, said they were in complete shock.
Guirassy, who is originally from Guinea but spent his entire life in Paris just fifteen minutes away from where the attacks took place, left his family just over a year ago to pursue his studies here at NJIT and play on the men’s soccer team.
“When I heard about the first [attack] I was in a car going to the airport after a soccer game in Charlotte [North Carolina],” Guirassy said. “The first person I contacted was my mother who was at home with everyone except my brother.”
Guirassy’s brother, 27-year-old Mohamed Guirassy, was attending a soccer game at Stade de France, one of six sites where terrorist struck. Luckily, the three suicide bombers were unable to enter the venue and were forced to detonate the bombs outside the stadium, sparing thousands of lives including that of French President Francois Hollande.
For Boghossian, Paris was like a second home to her, as it was the birthplace of her father and the site of many vacations. Coincidentally, Boghossian is originally from Beirut, Lebanon, a city where similar attacks occurred just a day before those in Paris. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed full responsibility for instigating the attacks in both countries.
“My family lives about 4 miles away from where the attacks occurred,” Boghossian said. “I first contacted my grandmother and then some close friends. They were confused, frightened and deeply saddened.”
Boghossian expressed fear of returning to Paris, but also said that she was afraid to travel anywhere else since she believes these sorts of attacks could happen anywhere in the world.
“Since I have been exposed to this kind of situation while growing up in Lebanon, I have learned to control the fear and live life fully,” she said.
When asked if he was afraid to return home, Guirassy confidently declared he was not and that he really wanted to be with his family.
“When you are in the U.S. while something is happening back home, you feel like you have no power,’’ Guirassy said. “If I could go now, I would.”
By Nicoia Maxwell