Originally Posted: April 20, 2016
SMU Aluma in Ecuador and SMU police officer dad grateful for far-reaching support after quake
DALLAS (SMU) – Everything Lisa Walters learned from earning recent SMU degrees in human rights and Spanish is being put to the ultimate test in Ecuador. She was about to board a plane back to her home in the South American country Saturday, April 16, when she learned Ecuador had been struck by a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
Lisa, the daughter of SMU Assistant Chief of Police Jim Walters, moved to Ecuador a week after her May 2014 graduation and now works as a team leader for the educational nonprofit group Global Citizen Year (GCY), a program that provides study abroad opportunities for young men and women in their “gap” or “bridge” year between high school and college. She was changing planes in Houston, on her way back to Quito after escorting a group of GCY students to California, when she learned the quake had killed hundreds, injured thousands, and left some 40,000 people searching for shelter, food and family members.
At the time, her usually unruffled police officer father was, “to be honest, frantic,” he says.
Since he and his daughter are close, they communicate almost daily by email or via the international–calling WhatsApp service. Chief Walters worried about her heading to Quito, which had closed its airport to allow in only flights carrying relief supplies.
After the duo connected during Lisa’s delay in Houston, she checked in as “safe” on Facebook –
much to the relief of her 687 friends on the social media network and her Ecuadorean husband of less than three months. Meanwhile, countless people were contacting Chief Walters to inquire about his and Lisa’s wellbeing.
“It was a pretty amazing feeling to hear from so many people, especially at SMU, who showed just how much they care about us,” he says. “It was heartwarming to say the least.”
As Lisa and her father connected with family members and friends during a multi-hour delay in Houston, her flight was finally cleared to return to Quito. But once there, she would spend nearly another full day trying to get a seat on a bus to take her to her home, three hours away in the Imbabura province that borders hard-hit Esmeraldes. READ MORE