As I sat with colleagues from across America for dinner Monday night in Philadelphia, I could feel my blackberry buzzing away at my feet.  So I did what I try really hard never to do: I snuck a peek at the dinner table.  My family members were emailing and texting to make sure everyone knew about the devastation happening in Christchurch, the home of my brother, Patrick, as well as our sister-in-law, niece and nephew.  By 9:21pm, my other brother got a call, and they were all fine.  Totally okay.

My brother was teaching at his elementary school at the time of the earthquake.  Amidst all of the sadness we are hearing about that city, this is not a tragic tale at all.  This is the email we received from Patrick:

hi all,

This is a blog from one of my school’s classes. There is a lot of stuff at top but if you scroll down to pictures of earthquake aftermath it gives you a very small indication of what it was like (although it doesn’t do it justice). Normally, the school has a flat grassy field but with the liquifaction it turned into a mudpit. It didn’t rain a drop that day. In one pic you can see the hairline cracks that you could actually watch forming through the previously solid concrete (caused by water in the soil forcing its way up and soaked the kids bottoms as they were seated in their emergency lines)… Nothing like cracks forming in the concrete underneath you and mud bubbling up from dry soil to calm 250 restless kids 🙂

Glad it is over,


Thankfully, Patrick’s family and his class were safe. The reality of any tragic or impactful event is that life does go on. Using social media to keep us informed, I am able to share with you the inside of a classroom at my brother’s school after the earthquake:

While I wish I could be with him, it makes me happy knowing that he will go back to his school on Monday and be with his class. They need him, and I hope they take good care of my little brother too.

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