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Amanda Chapman, 22, lives in Bay Park and is a development assistant for Christian Websites. “I was in Córdoba, Spain, at the time as an exchange student. We were at school until maybe one o’clock in the afternoon — their time — so that would be right about the time the World Trade Center would be starting to fall. I came home to have lunch with my host family, and they were watching television. I knew minimal Spanish, so I didn’t understand what was going on. I saw it on TV and I thought it was a movie, but it just kept playing over and over and it was on the news. My host family was trying to explain to me that it was the United States and I didn’t know what they were talking about or understand what they were trying to tell me, but I surely didn’t think it was a terrorist attack. I didn’t know what to think when I finally realized the truth, because I was so removed from everything that was going on. When I talked to other people who were here in the U.S., things just seemed so foreign. Everyone was telling me that there were flags on cars and everyone was so patriotic and praying together, and that just seemed so weird to me, because I was so distant from all that was going on. My group in Spain met up later that day. All of us American students had to buy cell phones to call home because we didn’t have phone access. So we met up, and there were some people who were really struck emotionally because they had family in New York. I remember thinking about my cousin who lives in New York. The Americans in Spain all tried to help and support each other, but we had to get on with what we had to do. After we heard the news, we heard a lot of things. One of them was that since Spain is between America and the Middle East, it might be a place for an attack. Córdoba has the great mosque, so for some reason, they believed that our town would not be bombed because of the mosque. I didn’t have too much trouble sleeping after that. But I tried to move up my flight back and it was impossible. I couldn’t get ahold of my agent for a long time, and then I ended up having to wait until a week before I was going to leave and even at that point I had to change some things. Some of us wanted to go home early and some of us wanted to stay. It was a hard thing.”

Daryl Williams, 20, studies computer science at Grossmont College and resides in Encanto. “I was at school. When I came home, my mom was talking about it. She had taken it to heart, but I was, like, ‘It didn’t happen to me,’ so I wasn’t worried about it. I just thought, ‘That’s messed up.’ I just did what I normally did that day, some homework and studying. Then I went to sleep. Later, I watched the news to try to get more details and that’s when it hit me. I started getting sad when they started playing it on BET [Black Entertainment Television] and showing what happened. After I heard that song off BET, I had a hard time sleeping.”

Kerri Lookabaugh, 25, lives in North Park and is an attorney. “I was at home, watching TV. It was just a shock. My stepbrother worked at the World Trade Center, so I called home to try to find him! He was late getting to work, and he was in an elevator going up when it happened. But he only worked on the second floor, so he got right out. I couldn’t get ahold of him, so I called my parents in North Carolina. I canceled my appointments, stayed home, and called everybody that day. It was hard to sleep after that. I kept thinking about my brother, and living in San Diego, this seems like a logical place for them to try to attack. That lasted for a while.”

Devan Ramalingam, 26, of Carlsbad, is a contractor. “At the time, I was a stockbroker, so I was awake and at work. We were watching it on TV while we were doing trades and stuff. Then the exchange closed down. It was just unreal. There were reports that a plane had hit, but I didn’t believe it — I thought it was a bomb. Then when the second plane hit, you knew it was all downhill. I just couldn’t believe it. The first thing that actually touched me personally was with my supervisor. He was from New York, and he had had a brain tumor removed a couple of months before and he was so worried about his family that he had an epileptic seizure, so I had to call 911. It was really weird, because on the worldwide scale, you see these buildings falling, but my personal superior at work is having this very personal thing happen to him and it really touched me in both big and small ways. At work, we really didn’t have anything to do, so we watched it on the news. We stayed, then went home. I was actually able to sleep. For some reason, I knew the world would go on somehow.”

Betty Waller, 68, is a San Clemente realtor. “We were up because of the time frame, New York to California. It was a horrible situation. We had relatives in New York at one time. We turned on the Fox News Network and it was on. Oh, my God! I couldn’t believe that America had finally thrown away the silk sheets and got the cotton out! It was terrible. I called all my kids to make sure they were all right. I was glued for the next 24 hours to that TV. I had trouble sleeping. You know, I still think about it every day. My uncle was in downtown New York, and it’s something you’ll never get away from forever if you’re a good American. I just can’t believe that it’s happening.”

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