My Twitter Feed

July 26, 2016

News:

University sustainability pledge draws mixed reactions -

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Crime Log: July 11 – July 17 -

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Obituary: Mohamed Bazzi remembered as generous, a prankster and a born leader -

Friday, July 15, 2016

Survey aims to measure cross-cultural competencies of students abroad -

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Crime Log: July 4 – July 11 -

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Northeastern alumnus releases tattoo-themed tabletop game -

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The “ninja” of Northeastern: Levin’s climb to victory -

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

DOC students cope with accidents abroad -

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Crime Log: June 27 – July 3 -

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Crime Log: June 20 – June 26 -

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Q&A: Northeastern alumna departs for service in Ethiopia -

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Final University Scholars class to arrive this fall -

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Obituary: Alexandra Johnson remembered as genuine, outgoing, caring -

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Orientation sessions acquaint incoming freshmen with NU -

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Crime Log: June 14 – June 18 -

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Crime Log: June 6 – June 11 -

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Obituary: Bailey Putnam, 21, remembered as the voice of the voiceless -

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Crime Log: May 30 – June 5 -

Saturday, June 11, 2016

NU student, former Huntington News sports editor, found dead -

Friday, June 10, 2016

Obituary: Ryan Shaw remembered as charismatic, talented and kind -

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Brazil fire hits close to home for one student

Northeastern student Rawan Alkhatib.
Photo Courtesy/Rawan Alkhatib

By Raffaela Kenny-Cincotta, News Staff

Looking through her Twitter feed a few weeks ago, Rawan Alkhatib breezed over a breaking news story about a fire in southern Brazil.

Alkhatib, who is currently in her first year at Northeastern, briefly thought of her family living in the South American nation, but brushed off the story thinking a tragedy of this magnitude could never happen in the quaint city of Santa Maria, where her aunt, uncle, cousins and grandmother live. It wasn’t until her phone started ringing with messages from relatives “crying and panicking” that Alkhatib’s view of the event shifted from a distant disaster to a horrific reality.

In the early hours of Jan. 27, a large fire swept through a nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil killing more than 230 people. According to the Associated Press, the fire at Kiss nightclub is suspected to be caused by a local music group’s amateur pyrotechnics. Eyewitnesses at the scene recounted a flare being lit from the stage and igniting flammable material on the ceiling. The AP also reported that the club did not have sprinklers or fire escapes, which is why most victims died from smoke inhalation rather than the flames themselves.

Alkhatib, an international affairs major, hails from Dorado, Puerto Rico, but she visits her family in Santa Maria regularly. She described the city as a tight-knit community where “everybody knows everybody.”

“I kept thinking, ‘This would literally never happen in Santa Maria,’ because it’s such a small town, so safe,” Alkhatib recalled in a phone interview Monday. “There’s really a communal thing about it that just makes it seem like nothing like this could ever happen.”

Adding to the tragedy was the fact that one of the victims in the club that night was a neighbor and close friend of Alkhatib’s cousin. Alkhatib recounted often spending time with the girl, a 20-year-old named Julianna, during her frequent visits to Brazil.

“I always hung out with [Julianna],” she said.

The Northeastern student noted that her family narrowly avoided its own loss as one of her cousins, 18-year-old Nader, was planning on going to Kiss the night of the fire. Thankfully, according to Alkhatib, her aunt and uncle are “pretty strict” and forbade Nader from going to the club on that ill-fated night.

“We’re really grateful he ended up not going,” Alkhatib said.

When asked how her family is dealing with the tragedy, Alkhatib said that her cousins are “going through a lot” and that her immediate family plans to make a trip to Brazil next winter.

Though Brazil is thousands of miles from Huntington Avenue, Alkhatib said the nightclub fire should still resonate in the local community.

“The reason this should really touch base with the Northeastern community is because everyone here, whether they’re underage or of age, go to these nightclubs and they go to these cool spaces and they never really have much regard for safety or any of that kind of stuff,” she said. “And this made me realize how when we’re trying to experience our youth and have fun and all that we aren’t very conscientious of the risk that comes with that. After being with my cousin and seeing the things that she’s seen, and my other cousin as well, my family’s been completely impacted by this. It’s pretty life-changing.”

Print Friendly
Leave A Comment