On Saturday, September 23, a group of MSFS students came together to throw a fundraising event for victims of the recent earthquakes in Mexico. The event showcased the talent of students and alumni in an effort to do their part to help those suffering from the natural disasters.
Mexico was hit by three major earthquakes within 12 days in September – the strongest to hit the country in the last 35 years. Many people from Chiapas, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Estado de Mexico and Mexico City lost their homes, their jobs, and loved ones. “The neighborhoods where I used to live and work for the past two years were two of the most devastated areas in Mexico City,” said Catalina Coppel, Mexican MSFS second year. “It was overwhelming to see the suffering and be so far away, feeling like I could do nothing to help.”
In the aftermath of the disaster, several students approached Catalina and fellow Mexican student Enrique Enriquez Minjarez to ask how best they could help. The two decided to organize an event to enable people to provide their support.
The result was an impromptu concert on a DuPont rooftop, featuring newly formed MSFS band “Clan Destino,” comprised of Professor James Millward, alumni Thomas Seeger and Matthew Mingey, and student Catalina. Bellwether Bayou, MSFS student Laura Schwartz's folk violin solo act, also joined as their featured guest, performing some of her original songs. The group raised $1,388 USD, equivalent to nearly $25,000 pesos. Fundación Carlos Slim, a well-established nonprofit in Mexico, will match $5 for every $1 that is donated. Ultimately, the total impact of this little concert will be $150,000 pesos - over $8,000 USD.
Both Mexican students were incredibly moved by the support they personally received and that they have witnessed around the world. “People have gotten together to help in remarkable ways,” Enrique reflected. “Both the government's and the communities' responses have been exceptional so far, with large numbers of people showing up to help search for signs of life amidst the rubble of damaged buildings, immediate establishment impromptu distribution networks for food and water, families opening up their homes for those who have nowhere to stay, and donations coming in from around the country and the world.”
“Through social media and the news, I was able to witness the instant reaction of Mexican citizens, organizing and helping in any way one could possibly imagine, and even putting their own lives at risk in order to aid anyone who suffered from the earthquakes,” said Catalina. “It has made me realize how strong and selfless my people are, how capable we are to unite in moments of fear, devastation, and uncertainty. I have never been more proud to be Mexican.”
When asked how their experience at MSFS has positioned them to make an impact, they emphasized their classmates’ capacity and motivation for change: “The people in this program were chosen because of their ability to affect positive change in the world; this weekend, our classmates proved that this is true.”