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College alumna survives bombing

Katie Kohler | Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Saint Mary’s alumna Suzanne Seidl Griffin survived a suicide bombing attack in Kabul, Afghanistan while working as senior project manager of education for the Save the Children USA program in Kabul.

The attack took place at the Serena Hotel in Kabul on Jan. 14 and was the deadliest direct attack on a hotel in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

Griffin was in the gym during the attack.

“There was blood on the floor all the way to the kitchen. There was a lot of blood in the lobby,” Griffin told the Associated Press. “There were shell castings outside.”

Last year, Saint Mary’s awarded Griffin, a 1967 graduate of the College, the Humanitas Award, an award the College bestows on an alumna who has made significant contributions to the College. Recipients are outstanding in their personal and volunteer accomplishments and recognized for their concern for the interests and welfare of fellow human beings, Gwen O’Brien, director of media relations at the College, said in a press release Monday.

The award also exemplifies the qualities of personal dedication, compassion, selflessness and sacrifice through social action, education and reform within the community, church or world, she said.

According to the Associated Press, the gunmen threw grenades and fired AK-47 assault rifles and one man blew himself up. The bomber killed six people, one of whom was American.

During the attacks, the remaining people in the hotel took shelter in a gym.

“We all just sat on the floor and got as far as we could from any glass. We turned our phones on silent,” Griffin told the Associated Press.

Griffin joined the Peace Corps in Afghanistan shortly after graduating from Saint Mary’s. She focused her work on the English as a Second Language movement. She worked in several academic positions on the west coast, most recently Seattle. After the death of her husband in 1999, she returned to Afghanistan. Her focus remains on literacy and women and children’s health.

O’Brien told The Observer that Griffin declined to do any more interviews at this time.