One of about a dozen Florida State University students and professors trapped in Lebanon during the bombings over the past week is hoping the rest of her colleagues get home safely too.
Betsy Barre arrived home in Tallahassee Tuesday night after a sometimes harrowing three-day escape. Now she’s worried about the Lebanese people she came to know and love during her stay.
Betsy Barre can smile now as she strolls around the Florida State University Campus, but the last week has been a bit of a nightmare. She was studying Arabic in Beirut with several other FSU students when Israel began bombing the city in retaliation for Hezbollah attacks.
Betsy says it was getting scary.
“We didn’t feel our life was threatened, but we felt very scared that we couldn’t get out after they got the airports, and they got the roads leading to Syria and they bombed the ports.”
She left all her clothes and other belongings to make a dash for the Syrian border with a British rescue organization rather than wait for a formal evacuation she feared might not happen.
Relief at being back on U.S. soil gave way to sadness at leaving Lebanese friends caught in the crossfire.
“Their infrastructure is being destroyed and their roads, they can’t get to each other, they can’t get to their families, and it’s just heartbreaking just to be whisked away and get back to safety and your family and know that these families are in turmoil over there.”
Betsy believes the half-dozen or so other students she was staying with made it out safely. Two opted to stay; the status of another four is unknown. Still, she hopes someday she can go back.
“There are so many wonderful Lebanese people who are fighting for democracy in their country, a fledgling government and they love us, they welcome us, they want us there, and so I don’t want to be one of the Americans who will never go back because they’re too afraid.”
But she knows it may be a long time before life returns to normal there.
Betsy Barre and the other students were studying Arabic at the Lebanese American University in Beirut during their summer break from FSU.