At least one of about 10 Florida college students trapped in Lebanon during fighting there is headed home safely.
Florida State doctoral student Betsy Barre was studying in Beirut when Israeli forces bombed the airport in retaliation for the Hezbollah kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers.
The last several days have been extremely stressful for Justin Esarey. His wife Betsy became trapped in Beirut while studying Arabic with about nine other Florida State University students there when fighting broke out between Israeli forces and Hezbollah.
“The worst thing in the world is just having to watch on CNN as events unfold and your wife is over there, or your son or whoever, and I know it’s been hard on Betsy’s mom too, and that’s just, it’s just the worst feeling in the world.”
Betsy was able to make her way safely across the Syrian border and is now flying home, but for days her husband was on pins and needles, even when she was just going to grab a bite to eat.
“She would leave the campus to go get a sub and I would just die, you know, because I would think, oh, man, all you have to do is go around the corner and there could be a couple of people there and you’d never see her again.”
FSU administrators declined our request for an on-camera interview because, frankly, they don’t want to draw any more attention to the students out of concerns for their safety.
Justin is very glad his wife got out, but he defends her decision and those of other students to study in a troubled part of the world.
“Unless there’s cultural exchange and dialog, we’re not going to make any progress.”
He just hopes the other students will return safely too.
There is no official word of the status of the other Florida State University students who were studying at the Lebanese American University in Beirut.
The program was not affiliated with FSU and the students had made their own arrangements. All are believed to be safe and in the process of returning home. Betsy Barre is expected home in Tallahassee Tuesday night.