Last Saturday night I was walking to Smith Union with one of my best friends when I heard the news. We were eagerly chatting as we made our plans to go to My Tie after doing some homework, but everything at Bowdoin went out of focus when I heard about the 7.8 earthquake in Ecuador, my home. I barely mustered the energy to say, “I’ll call you back” when my mother gave me the news. I wondered if my partner who lives in the coast, the area most affected by this tragedy, was alive. I wondered how bad it was across the country and not just in the epicenter of the earthquake. Were my brothers who lived more than five hours away from the coastal region affected too? Were my high school friends okay? I frantically messaged and called everyone I knew in Ecuador.

My family and friends are fortunately doing well and I thank everyone who has expressed concern, but I am luckier than many people who have lost loved ones. There are over 500 people who have died and even more who are wounded and homeless. Some are still trapped under collapsed buildings. The long term implications of this for Ecuador will be devastating as well. The low price of oil already had Ecuador in a tough spot economically before the earthquake. On top of that one of Ecuador’s main exports is seafood and the earthquake destroyed many coastal towns, affecting Ecuador’s largest city as well which is in the coast, Guayaquil.

As Ecuador deals with the impact and aftershock of the earthquake – a magnitude 6.2 earthquake shook Ecuador again on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 – I begin to ask myself what I can do while being here at Bowdoin, which if you know me is the question that has daunted me during my four years here. What can we do as an international community in times of crisis like these? How can we show solidarity in a place like the US, which has shown it has problematic ways of helping? Despite the fact that Bowdoin is an isolated liberal arts school, it is an international community. We have students who come from many different countries and we deal with subjects outside the US in most of our classes. But what does this mean in terms of our responsibility not only to the US, but to the rest of the world? I don’t have the perfect answers to all of these questions, but I encourage all of us to begin asking ourselves how to create an international solidarity support network and want to invite you to join a small campaign that Ecuadorian students in our very own school are starting.

Our objective is to raise $5,000 for Ecuador’s Red Cross by May 6th. We’re doing this by individual donations and bake sales. Check out our donation site at: And keep your eyes open for people selling food in the union and other locations with an Ecuadorian flag. We’ve already raised close to $1,000 since the campaign started on Wednesday. Thank you to everyone who has come out and supported Ecuador’s victims, volunteered to help with this initiative, or just asked somebody from Ecuador if they’re family members are safe. I’m not sure what an ideal international community would look like, but the type of international solidarity I’ve seen at Bowdoin gives me a little bit of hope in this very dark time for my country.