By Melanie J. Knox, Opinion Editor
This time last year the campus mourned the deaths of five Nigerian students, whose Izuzu Rodeo crashed near Weatherford.
“Even American students who didn’t know them were affected,” said Kevin Kehl, associate director of the Center for International and Intercultural Education. “So it has created a positive and greater awareness of the issues international students face, being so far from home and living in a different culture.”
Olutomi “Tomi” Aruwajoye, Iyadunni “Dunni” Bakare, Toluwalope “Tolu” Olorunsola, Abimbola “Bola” Orija and Kolawole “Kola” Sami were all from Lagos, Nigeria and returning to Abilene from a visit to Houston.
During International Chapel on April 10, the five students were remembered at a short memorial service. Segun Senbore, a 2002 graduate and friend to the victims, spoke and prayed for their families.
Kehl said that he has especially been thinking about the parents and the difficult time this must be.
“Their weight of sorrow must be incredible,” Kehl said. “But all the families are people of faith. They continue to acknowledge trust in God as an important part in working through and dealing with the loss of a child.”
Kehl said that when he does talk to the parents about how they are doing, their response is usually to the effect of, “We’re making it through the grace of God.”
“From time to time, I have thought about the loss, personally and of ACU, in losing such gifted and blessed students,” Kehl said. “It’s not just on the anniversary that I think of them, but through out the year.”
Royce Money, president of the university, sent letters recently to the families of the students to let them know that we are thinking about them at this time, praying for them and remembering the contribution their children made.
“There are no easy answers in response to what we have experienced,” said Wayne Barnard, dean of campus life. “We never forget, and we never ‘recover,’ but we do reconstruct our lives without our loved ones’ physical presence, and we process both their loss and their memory into a broader picture of life.”
Several of the students’ friends have transferred from ACU. Sunday Amani is now in Houston, and Tosin Oyedele is in Dallas.
Bakare, Olorunsola and Aruwajoye were all buried in Dallas, Sami was buried in Houston where her aunt lives and Orija was buried in Albany, Georgia where her aunt lives.