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ISSUE 116 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/21/2003

Heroism surfaces off the Hill

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, February 21, 2003

Trust and honesty are valued within the St. Olaf community. With every exam students must sign the honor code. People rarely lock their doors. The entrance to the Caf is always decorated with backpacks and coats that people leave unwatched.

What is going to happen to us once we leave the Hill? Are you prepared to take care of your safety once “the bubble” has burst?

This year over 700 St. Olaf students traveled abroad. Two women who traveled abroad this January knew exactly what to do in case of an emergency, helping and saving innocent victims’' lives.

Anna McGovern ‘'03 studied in Madrid, Spain this year. One night, close to the end of her trip, she and a few other students, including Annie Poshek ‘'05, were walking through the streets of the city.

“"For some reason I just decided to look over my shoulder,”" McGovern said. “"The guy had his arm stretched in front of him like he was grabbing Annie’s back.”"

McGovern turned around, glaring at the man and two women accompanying him. Suddenly the three strangers dispersed. "I told Annie to check her purse and she checked it and her wallet was missing,”" McGovern said.

She confronted the man and said she saw him take the wallet from Poshek'’s purse. "I started yelling that he was a thief and that we’re going to call the police if he doesn'’t give it back to us. The louder I got the more nervous he started to get,”" McGovern said.

McGovern said the woman walking with the man ran up to her and Poshek, returning the wallet. "Unfortunately, we didn'’t think to check the wallet before we left because they had taken the sixty dollars, but we were lucky because her ID and banking card and social security card were all there,”" said McGovern.

Another senior student also came to the rescue this January. One morning, while going for a run in Honolulu, Hawaii this January, Jenn Olson ’'03 asked a simple question that saved a woman from a dangerous situation.

“"I was on a run and I was looking at this girl walking out of the mall into this park. She totally looked like the tourist type. I saw this guy approaching her and I thought it was kind of weird,”" said Olson.

Olson said the man began to get closer to the girl, finally grabbing her and taking her further into the park. Olson ran up to the girl and asked, “"Do you know this guy?"” With tears running the down her face, the girl replied, "No."

“"I grabbed her arm and pulled her towards the mall area. I brought her to her hotel and told her to tell the people at her hotel,”" Olson said.

The realization of what these women had done did not kick in until after their heroic acts. "I wasn'’t scared until afterwards when I told my friends about what I did,”" Olson said. McGovern said, “"As soon as we walked away my legs turned to Jell-O and I started to think of all the bad things that could have happened.”"

When traveling or just walking down the street at home, there are a few things tourists can do to help prevent themselves from being attacked. Wear a purse in front and facing towards yourself or put money in your front pocket.

Use your keys as a weapon. Hold them between your fingers so you can stab any stranger who comes near you.

Confidence is key. Walk like you know where you are going, even if you cannot read the street signs. You will be a less likely target.

Most importantly, do like these women did and be aware of your surroundings. When you know whom and what is around you, you have a better chance of not being surprised and in case you get attacked, you know to where you can escape.

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