Aspen students stick it out in London
July 15, 2005
Two Aspen High School seniors in London for a summer internship program say they were scared one week ago when the city was rocked by a terrorist attack, but they have resolved to continue their summer education on foreign soil.Jake Lansburgh and Amanda Greenberg, both 17, are part of Intern Exchange International along with 140 other teenagers from around the United States. They had been overseas for a week before the bombings.”We’re 17- and 18-year-old kids in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from our parents with a terrorist attack going on, thinking, ‘What do we do?'” Greenberg said. “It was frightening that I didn’t have my parents with me and experiencing this on my own.”Greenberg is taking a course in journalism for the summer in a classroom at Cavendish College while Lansburgh is working with an international stock firm. Both stay with the other students in a dorm at the University of London at Russell Square, close to one of the subway train bombings and near Tavistock Square, where a bomb ripped through a double-decker bus.
Lansburgh said he was walking down into the subway stop last Thursday morning, and was 10 steps down when people came running up the stairs telling him there was the sound of an explosion in the tube. He turned around and walked 20 minutes to work, with people around him talking about whether the train had derailed or if there was a power outage.Later on at work, he learned on the news that a bomb had exploded on the train while it was between the Kings Cross and Russell Square tube stops.”I wasn’t really surprised to find out what happened – I didn’t hear a boom in the station, but there were so many sirens and ambulances going in different directions that I could tell it was more than a train derailing,” he said.Greenberg said she was walking to class that morning and was just a couple of blocks away from where the bus exploded.
“I heard a huge explosion – it was the scariest noise I’ve ever heard in my life,” she said. “It was like in the movies when there are explosions, but worse. Someone said maybe it was just a garbage truck dumping off trash, and I said it sounded like a bomb, but I was kidding.”Other students in London from different parts of the United States saw the bus be ripped apart and had to disembark subway trains in the middle of the subway tubes – some students leaving a train that had been blown apart by bombs. None of the students were hurt or killed.”I thought of going home, but I think only about four kids did,” Lansburgh said. “My parents and I talked about it, but I don’t think it’s [a terrorist attack] going to happen again.”Greenberg said she had the same conversation with her parents, who initially said they wanted to fly to London to take her home. But at a group meeting with the rest of the students and staffers of the internship program, she said she felt safe.”We’re going to stay here and stick it out,” she said. “Just because it happened doesn’t mean it has to ruin our time in London and we have to go home. We’re being very strong about this. The staff’s confidence made me feel like I was safe where I am even though there is this chaos around me.”
Greenberg and Lansburgh both grew up in Aspen, meeting and becoming friends in the second grade. Coincidentally, they both decided to apply for the international intern program. They say they are the only two students in the program from Colorado. They arrived in London on July 1 and will be there until the 28th.On Thursday, the city observed two minutes of silence at noon to remember the victims of the bombings on its week anniversary. Lansburgh said buses and taxis stopped at the side of the street, and people at the stock firm where he is working stopped what they were doing.Greenberg said she looked out of her classroom window to see people standing silently on the sidewalk below. A number of streets remain closed where the bus bomb exploded; some are lined with bouquets of flowers, she said.Although she no longer enjoys riding the tube, she rode it the other day and felt that people were more silent and somber than usual.
“To experience this, in a foreign country, something in you changes – you become more aware, and worried about what’s going on around you,” she said. “I don’t’ know how to explain it, but I know I’m a little different.”She’s assigned herself a front-page story for her journalism class’ newspaper, interviewing other students about their experiences and feelings about the bombings. Lansburgh said he’s enjoying the neighborhood where they are staying, and the people.”A lot of areas are still roped off, but otherwise everything is back to normal, and the tube is just as crowded as it was before,” he said.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is email@example.com