Last week I noted that some SIPA students were in Haiti as part of their professional development work when the earthquake occurred. The Record, a Columbia University publication, recently ran an article about the SIPA students and others from around the University that were in Haiti at the time. A portion of the article is below and to view the whole article please visit the web site of The Record.
Shortly before 5:00 p.m. on Jan. 12, Elisabeth Lindenmayer, director of the United Nations program at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), was in Port-au-Prince with six of her students, exiting a van outside the United Nations Development Programme building. A longtime U.N. peacekeeper and former assistant secretary general and deputy chief of staff to Kofi Annan, she and her students were in Haiti for a week-long trip. They were conducting research on the role of the private sector in social and economic development and its link to state-building. After close to a week of interviews, they were scheduled to leave the next morning.
As they stepped onto the street, the earth shuddered. The building they were about to enter started to crack, and a deafening roar filled the air. “Get out,” Lindenmayer yelled. Some students threw themselves on the ground; others stayed in the van.
Although members of the Columbia community lost family and friends, the Columbians who were in Haiti were extraordinarily lucky. Remarkably, no one was injured, and a total of 10 students, faculty and staff members were able to be evacuated out of the country with support from a team working from Morningside Heights.