Fiona Drysdale was only 8 years old in 1988, but she vividly remembers the Pan Am Flight 103 air disaster and the impact that single event had on her hometown of Lockerbie, Scotland. "The crash had a devastating effect on everyone," Drysdale recalls. "It is still so much a part of life there."|
Drysdale also noticed how deep and emotional the bond between Lockerbie and Syracuse became over the past 10 years. It is a bond that has shifted from one of sorrow to one of friendship and healing, she says. "I think, somehow, Lockerbie will always be connected to Syracuse."
This year Drysdale and Alison Younger attend classes at Syracuse University as Lockerbie Scholars. The two are friends and former classmates at Lockerbie Academy.
Each year since the tragedy occurred, two students from the academy have spent their first year of college at SU. Tuition and fees are paid by the Lockerbie Trust and SU. The trust was established by SU and Lockerbie to ensure a year's study at SU for two of the village's students. According to Judith O'Rourke, a local coordinator of the Lockerbie Scholars program and executive assistant to the vice president for Undergraduate Studies, selection is based in part on a written essay. The essays are reviewed by three members of the Lockerbie Trust and two SU faculty members in London. The finalists are interviewed by trust members. "This program was started as an ongoing tribute," O'Rourke says. "It has worked out very well for us, and for the students."
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The Remembrance Room was added to a chapel at Tundergarth Mains, a cemetery in Lockerbie. Inside is the Book of Remembrance, where a page is dedicated to each bombing victim. The cemetery was where much of the plane wreckage was recovered.
O'Rourke stays in frequent contact with the scholars once they arrive on campus. Being thousands of miles from home, the scholars quickly learn the value of their friendships with O'Rourke. "It is great to have someone like her on campus," Drysdale says. "She is kind of like a surrogate mom."|
Drysdale and Younger also benefit from having each other. "If I had been the only scholar, I'm not sure I could have done it," Younger says. "It's been a lot easier being here with Fiona."
Although none of the 18 previous Lockerbie Scholars chose to complete undergraduate degrees at SU, the experience provides some much-appreciated cultural awareness, O'Rourke says. "For the most part, the students' experiences here at SU have been very positive."
Drysdale, a special education major, wanted to attend SU because the University has such a high profile in her community. A display on the University is updated all year, and former Lockerbie Scholars return to Lockerbie Academy each year to share their SU experiences. "I realized that it was the chance of a lifetime," Drysdale says.
Younger, a School of Management student, wasn't as familiar with SU, but was excited by the prospect of beginning her college career in the United States. "For me, it was just the right time," Younger explains. "Even though I had already been accepted to university back home, it was the right thing to do."
Drysdale was surprised by how deeply the tragedy seems etched into the collective consciousness of the University. "I think the memorial has a lot to do with that," she says. "It is a very appropriate tribute."
Younger agrees. "The memorial is very subtle. You walk up from Marshall Street and there it is."
Of the tragedy that will forever join Lockerbie and Syracuse, Drysdale says the healing is ongoing. "I will never forget what happened, I don't think anyone in Lockerbie ever will, but everything moves on. To do so is a testimony to the lives that were lost."
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