Earthquake in Taiwan caught on camera in Appalachian classroom

Stephanie Sansoucy

An Appalachian State University class was on a Skype call with a class of students at Ching Yun University in Zhongli City, Taiwan, when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit near the Taiwan university Oct. 31.

When the earthquake hit, the Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies professor Ray Miller’s global understanding class was in the middle of video chatting with students in Taiwanese professor Kuei-Min’s class.

Miller and his students witnessed the tremors in Taiwan on the live video feed.

“It was about five minutes into the call and we thought it was the camera at first,” Miller said. “It became clear by their facial expressions that it was not the camera, and they had just experienced an earthquake while our class was going on.”

Miller said Kuei-Min gave her students the option to stay or leave but assured them they were in the safest part of the building.

Miller said that at that moment he hoped the students and their professor were not harmed.

“I was thinking about how do I communicate with that professor there in a responsible way,” Miller said. “Most of the students chose to stay and we had a great conversation about stereotypes between Taiwanese and Americans.”

Freshman management major Nathan Moore was in Miller’s class during the event.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Moore said. “I wasn’t sure whether to feel scared for their safety or not because I have never experienced a severe earthquake. After the shaking of the camera stopped, I was glad that no damage was done to the classroom or building that they were in. It was even more remarkable with how the Taiwanese students continued to speak with the global understandings class after the earthquake.”

Freshman criminal justice major Katherin Castillo said the students on the other end of
the call began to shout, but she didn’t know what was happening until one student on the other end of the call yelled “earthquake.”

“The students began to duck and their professor told them to calm down,” Castillo said. “When it all stopped, many students wanted to go home, but their professor thought it would be safer if everyone stayed just in case there was an aftershock. I appreciate that even after the earthquake the Taiwanese students stayed to talk to our class.”

Miller was not surprised that so many students stayed.

“The students were initially shocked, then concerned, then appeared to be comfortable to stay,” he said. “A lot of times young people are more resilient when things like this happen.”

Story: CARL BLANKENSHIP, Intern News Reporter