Photos: Students gather for a group shot before the hurricane arrives, Dr. Coleman Patterson and junior Ethan Tan
When Hardin-Simmons University professor Dr. Coleman Patterson said last week that his upcoming trip with 12 students promised to be a wonderful educational experience – both at the conference and seeing Washington D.C. -- the group had no idea how eventful the trip would actually be.
The class of 12 HSU Leadership Studies students that left campus last week for flights out of Dallas- Fort Worth is waiting out Hurricane Sandy in Washington D.C. today.
The students, along with professor of management and leadership, Dr. Coleman Patterson, flew to the nation’s capital last week to represent the Philippines in the National Model United Nations Washington D.C. conference, joining delegations from universities across the country.
This morning, the group of students slept in while Patterson went to scope out the few restaurants still open on the block near their hotel in Washington D.C. Joining him was another group of students from Texas A&M who were also in D.C. to attend the conference.
Speaking by email, Patterson said he was heading back to the hotel to wash clothes, but in the meantime he says bluntly, “We are stuck.”
Patterson says they had hoped to miss the storm because they were set to leave today (Monday, October 29). “We had been checking the forecasts since arriving in D.C. and tried to do everything that we could to scoot out before it arrived, but couldn't arrange it--things were filling up and getting cancelled as we tried. Our flight for this afternoon was cancelled by American Airlines yesterday afternoon,” says Patterson.
“We are doing fine; we made a run to Target last night before things started closing to stock up on food and supplies. We share a building with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration), so you would think that we would be pretty safe from losing power,” at least that’s what the group is hoping, he says.
The National Model United Nations program the students were attending is the largest and among the most prestigious collegiate United Nations simulations.
HSU has a long tradition of fielding Model U.N. teams at collegiate conferences,” said Patterson last week just prior to leaving. “Dr. Charles Garraway advised the team for decades, followed by Dr. Jeff Key (current head of the political science department). I am the newest in the line of faculty members to guide students through this unique educational experience. I am very excited about this class and upcoming adventure. We have students in the class (six women/six men) with a wide range of interests and backgrounds. This promises to be a wonderful educational experience – both at the conference and seeing Washington D.C.,” he said last Wednesday.
Dr. Alan Stafford, Dean of HSU’s Cynthia Ann Parker College of Liberal Arts sent an email to HSU faculty members this morning, advising them about the students’ return to campus later than expected, “As you know, Hurricane Sandy has caused airport closings and flight cancellations for the next couple of days. They will return to Abilene as soon as possible,” said Stafford.
Patterson says they have a tentative flight scheduled for late Wednesday night with the students planning to be back in Abilene sometime on Thursday for classes.
For now, Patterson says, “We're high and dry and simply waiting for the storm to pass.”
An interesting side note, some of the HSU students caught a glimpse of President Barrack Obama, from a short distance away, as he was leaving from the FEMA building yesterday.
Students on the trip include:
Kristina Alexander -- DFW area
Andrew Bennett -- San Antonio
Julia Bradley -- Azle
Caleb Bryant -- Midland
Austin Esquivel -- Abilene
Rachel Feese -- DFW area
Grace Hebert -- McKinney
Rebecca Loney -- Columbus, GA
Leila Lovett -- DFW area
Mindy Rodgers -- DFW area
Ethan Tan -- Malaysia
Drew White -- DFW area