The Economics of Markets professor turned the question over to the floor: “As non-Americans, how do you perceive living in the US?” Without hesitation, I shot my hand into the air. “Professor,” I said, “I have come to this school to gain access to the US. I will work here after graduating for four or five years and then get the hell out. I don’t want to raise my family in the midst of school shootings, riots, and violence.” I had no idea how prophetic those words would turn out to be.
The next day, an HBS staff member informed my class that the United States of America was under attack by terrorists. Violence of unprecedented levels was being inflicted across the US and no one grasped the extent of the damages to come. Many students literally refused to believe; convinced it was some sort of twisted joke or foundations leadership experiment. We hurried to the closest televisions, Internet connections, and phone lines to see for ourselves what was really unfolding.
I was fortunate in the sense that I was able to track down my few loved ones throughout the US within a couple of hours. Many of my classmates were not so lucky; still anxiously waiting for news into the wee hours of the night. Once I knew my family was safe, I began to assess what to do. Somehow, I got the idea that I was better off anywhere other than a major US city. With my bag packed with a toothbrush and deodorant, I set off in my car toward Canada. About 2 hours into the drive, I realized I was spinning my wheels. I knew that when classes resumed, I would return to Boston immediately. Even if I spent the night in Montreal, I’d be back in Boston within a day or two. Not for one second did I consider dropping out of school or moving out of the city. On a larger scale, Americans across the country will resume their roles. Certainly, all will be deeply touched by this incident and will rethink their priorities. But in the end, lives will go on. Loved ones will be mourned, and lives will go on.
These attacks are the most horrific thing many of us have ever lived through. But as I realized while driving away from Boston, they must not prevent us from living out our dreams and pursuing our goals. Before I even reached the border, I realized I could not run from terrorism. With an illegal U-turn on I-93, I resolved to face my fears and continue pursuing my dream. People across the country will return to work and get on with their lives over the next few days. People are shaken, but not fallen. I am amazed by the courage shown by all. Already we are resuming our routine, stronger and more focused by the cowardly terrorists. If we don’t, the death toll of the attack will be far higher than the statistics indicate.