“Everything stopped”: The impact of 9/11

Elizabeth Stoeger, Staff Writer

Part 2 of 3

Bella Aung, ‘17, International Relations major

“I was just running around, I think playing, like back and forth in the living room. My parents are like, ‘Oh something’s happening in New York, don’t run.’ I’m like, ‘What? What’s going on?”

Aung and her family were in Burma at the time but her cousins lived about 30 minutes away from the World Trade Center.

“We saw it on the news because everything went live, ‘Oh this thing is happening,’ so we called my cousins, because I know two of them worked in the Financial District area, but one of them worked more downtown so she saw it happen but she was out of the danger.”

“We were really worried about my other cousin . . . he had to take the train that passes the World Trade Center subway station because back then the Twin Towers were close to the station.”

He passed the Towers minutes after the first plane hit, “It was like 4 minutes after . . . so he heard everything and everything collapsed and he was trapped in the subway, everything stopped.”

Later that evening, the cousin did get in touch with the rest of the family but was still understandably in shock.

He quit his job in Manhattan the next day, “He avoids going to Manhattan [now] . . . it’s bad.”

“My cousin had to move to New Hampshire eventually . . . they dealt with a lot of PTSD so they can’t go to Ground Zero. Whenever [he] has to go to Manhattan, they’re like, ‘Oh I’m busy,’ he will cancel last minute.”

“For Asian families, it’s not really advisable [to say], ‘Hey I have PTSD. I have mental health issues,’ and it’s not really a thing we talk about so he was really defensive at first. He didn’t tell us, but [later] he came out to all the cousins . . . I think a lot of people are affected physically or mentally.”

Aung volunteered as a tour guide at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum during the summer of 2014 and found that the majority of people who visited were from outside New York.

“It really impacted my cousin and I wanted to educate people about it but the interesting thing that we learned about it is . . . the lowest amount of visitors we get are from the tri-state area . . . they don’t really want to get reminded about it, they don’t want to think about it.”

“Not necessarily forget about it but they don’t want to revisit the trauma, I guess,” said Aung.

Her experience of 9/11 shaped the way she thinks and has given her a perspective, “It helps me with my political thinking and stuff like that, so in a way it helps me with my education . . . both in a personal way and from a critical point of view . . . it helps me balance things out.”