US students recount school shooting horror at Dubai forum

Lewis Mizen, Suzanna Barna and Kevin Trejos during a moment of silence for the victims of the school shooting at the Global Ediucation and Skills Forum  in Dubai on Saturday. Also seen Vijita Patel, Trustee of Varkey Foundation. — Photo by Dhes Handumon
Lewis Mizen, Suzanna Barna and Kevin Trejos during a moment of silence for the victims of the school shooting at the Global Ediucation and Skills Forum in Dubai on Saturday. Also seen Vijita Patel, Trustee of Varkey Foundation. - Photo by Dhes Handumon

Dubai - A 19-year-old had taken away several innocent lives at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14.



By Sarwat Nasir

Published: Sat 17 Mar 2018, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 18 Mar 2018, 7:37 PM

Hiding inside a supplies closet for nearly two hours, with only the sounds of screams and gunshots, high school student Kevin Trejos was left terrified. An active shooter was on his school campus in Parkland, Florida. He and his friends were asked to run as fast as they could once they were out on the hallway.
Even though he made it out safe, he was left devastated when he learned 17 of schoolmates were shot dead in what's now known as the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
A 19-year-old had taken away several innocent lives at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14.
Trejos was speaking about his tragic experience, alongside three other classmates and survivors, on the first day of the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) in Dubai on Saturday.
GESF is a two-day forum and is held annually by the Varkey Foundation. This year's theme is 'How do we prepare young people for the world of 2030 and beyond?'. 
Trejos said: "At first I think it didn't process for me. I didn't realise 'code red' meant there's an active shooter on campus. It was scary because I didn't know we would be separated and wouldn't be able to talk to each other for two hours. Being in that closet was scary, we didn't know what was going on initially.
"A lot of people thought it was a drill because they were going to have an active shooter drill in the future. About 20 minutes after hearing different rumours on group messages, we had a first confirmation message from the local police that we had an active shooter.
"I don't think we realised the gravity of what was happening at that time. We were all trying to console each other while we were there. It was scary, we didn't know where the shooter was or whether he was coming into our classroom next.
"A lot of familiar names started to come up of who was shot. Some of them were my friends. I just didn't know what to think, because literally an hour ago we were talking to each other, making jokes and telling our sonnets at AP literature. I just didn't know that this was going to be the biggest mass shooting in US history."
Another survivor, Suzanna Barna, feels that the most difficult part was returning to school after two weeks. Even though, a lot of therapy was given to the students, according to Barna, it is still difficult dealing with the loss.
Since the incident, students from the school have been dedicating majority of their time to bring upon change in US gun laws.
Lewis Mizen, another survivor who is originally from the UK, said they started their campaigning at a state level. "A week after it happened, we planned a march at Tallahassee to meet the state legislators and have a rally afterwards. We met a number of senators and House of Representatives. We met our senators and representatives on the federal level and thankfully since it had happened, Florida passed a billNational Rifles Association (NRA) is suing the state of Florida for passing it, but hopefully a legal defence would protect it.
"What really struck me is that things happened on gun control in a week than it has happened in a decade and that's because of my classmates - I think that's phenomenal."
A nationwide protest against gun violence, called 'March for Our Lives', is set to take place on March 24.

Survivors share their ordeal

> We didn't know shooter was there: Kevin Trejos
"It was scary because I didn't know we would be separated and wouldn't be able to talk to each other for two hours. It was scary, we didn't know where the shooter was or whether he was coming into our classroom next."
> Hard to acknowledge reality: Suzanna Barna
"It's really hard to acknowledge the reality of what happened to us. Inside and outside of school, the community has been there for each other. There's been a lot of therapy, we also had therapy dogs come into the classroom."
>What happened later was phenomenal: Lewis Mizen
"We met a number of senators and House of Representatives. What really struck me is that more happened on gun control in a week than it has happened in a decade and that's because of my classmates - I think that's phenomenal."

KT Nano Edit

Secure learning
The education system stares at the barrel of the gun in the West and in many war-stricken countries. Lift the pall of fear and watch children grow and reach their full potential. But first, adults should set an example by shunning violence in thought, word and deed. And it should begin at home. Schools can then take forward the learning process in a secure environment.
sarwat@khaleejtimes.com


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