9/11 Tragedy Hits Close to Home for Foreign Exchange Student Nina Rodrigues

WORLD TRADE CENTER UP IN FLAMES -- Nina Rodrigues life touched by 9/11 tragedy.

Mayra Rodrigues

WORLD TRADE CENTER UP IN FLAMES — Nina Rodrigues’ life touched by 9/11 tragedy.

13 years ago on September 11, 2001, tragedy struck the United States of America. Many people were affected, and many people lost their lives. One of Central High School’s own, Nina Rodrigues, could have been been found on the list of people who did not return home on that tragic day. Nina was visiting her family here in America with her mom and uncle, and on a flight to Boston, Massachusetts, she could have very well boarded one of the planes that struck the Twin Towers.

Nina and her family had arrived in New York City so they could change planes to fly to Boston to visit her grandmother on September 11, 2001. They had no idea any of this would happen on her and her mother’s first trip to the United States. They arrived much earlier than expected in New York from Brazil. The trio could have boarded an earlier flight, which they attempted to do, but ended up resting a bit at the airport and then boarded their original flight to Boston.

“Our flight was supposed to board much later, so we tried to change the flight so we could leave earlier… We couldn’t change because the flight didn’t have three seats available for me and my family,” Nina explained.

Nina’s father, Leonardo Rodrigues, received news that Nina and her family had arrived in New York City and were waiting to board their flight to Boston. At this point, all was well in New York.

“They boarded the original flight to Boston, which went down the runway. However, the takeoff was aborted, and so they waited for a long time inside the airplane. From the plane’s windows they could see the smoke from the towers on fire; then they had to disembark and the FBI told them to leave the airport quickly,” said Mr. Rodrigues.

All communication was down in New York City because of the impact on the World Trade Center. With no means to contact his wife, Nina’s father had no understanding of his family’s situation or if they were okay. Nina’s grandmother, who was awaiting their arrival in Boston, did not know anything about Nina’s whereabouts.

“I was in a terrible situation! My wife and my daughter [could have been] in that situation and I had no news of them. I was waiting [for] a phone call, but the phones in the U.S. were not working… What most worried me was the news that several aircraft were hijacked and were flying in the skies of the U.S.A. I didn’t know if they had already taken off or if they were on one of these flights,” said Mr. Rodrigues.

Luckily, Nina and her family were perfectly fine, just shaken up from the horrifying attack. Nina’s father received word that his family was okay, and Nina ended up in Boston for about a week before departing from the U.S. to return to Brazil.