First-year law student Isaac Perez saw it in a retweet and thought it couldn’t be true — but it was. Camilo Pareda, a senior studying criminal justice, read the news on FIU social media and was first in line for the reopening. They were just two of the dozens of FIU students who returned to the Green Library as it reopened Tuesday morning (Sept. 12) at 10 a.m.
“This is huge,” said Perez, who rode out Hurricane Irma in Hialeah. Like many students interviewed, the home he was in was fine but without power. “I was sweating on my law book, and it was no good.” He was on the second floor of the library, studying Modern Constitutional Law with third-year student Raquel Martinez, an environmental and sustainability studies major. Said Martinez, “We’re just grateful [the library] is a resource for us.”
Aly Sharonina was reading on the seventh floor of the library. Despite the fact that she had power at her Brickell condo, she was one of the first students at the library Tuesday morning. A second-semester graduate student studying criminal justice and public administration, this was the Russian-born Sharonina’s first hurricane experience in her 12 years in the United States. When asked why she went to the library despite the fact she had power in her home, she joked, “My dogs are a distraction. My refrigerator is a distraction.” Then she got serious. “The library gives me some kind of peace.”
Sharonina spent Saturday volunteering at the Red Cross shelter being staged at FIU. She had originally gone to a high school in Hialeah but was unable to offer effective help because she doesn’t speak Spanish. “But FIU is a such a diverse place, with such an international crowd, that I was able to communicate with everyone speaking only English and Russian. I really felt like I was part of a community.”
Yue Dong is currently studying at FIU’s English Language Institute with hopes of becoming an information technology student at the university. Newly arrived from China only four months ago, Dong rode out the hurricane in a shelter. “I felt very safe there,” he said. “I made friends from China and Cuba. We had each other.
His apartment still has no power, so Dong was at the library charging his phone. “All I need is to restore my communications so I can let everyone know I’m okay.”
Sophomore biology/psychology major Chavelys Hernandez was at the library working on homework. Part of an organic chemistry group chat, she said the 200-plus students updated one another as they received information. A part-time employee at the library, she called her supervisor to verify that the library was really reopening. “I have homework to do, but I can actually work a few hours if I want to,” she said.
The first one in line to get into the newly reopened library, senior Camilo Pareda said his family had a “tough time” deciding whether to hunker down and ride out the storm or evacuate. They decided to stay. “Now it’s a ruckus. My neighborhood is a disaster.” Pareda, who studies criminal justice, came to the library “to take my mind off things.” He was studying and charging his phone.
The Green Library will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.