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Familiar program used differently

Beset by storm, displaced students use Facebook to connect

Published: Monday, November 7, 2005

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

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Nicole Waivers, a Loyola student spending the semester at BC, has been using the Facebook to stay in touch with friends from Louisiania.

Most students will log on to the Facebook to check out a friend's new photos or to discover the interests of someone in a class. For students visiting from New Orleans, however, it's not something they do for fun - it's a way to get their life back together.

Loyola sophomores Nicole Waivers, Cristina Catanzaro, and Will Wilson are now studying at Boston College, and they discussed how they've used the Facebook in the wake of the hurricane.

"You can't expect calls everyday, and Facebook is just so much more convenient," said Waivers.

She's been checking the site repeatedly throughout her days at BC.

The creators never thought that the Facebook could grow so big, let alone serve to help students involved in this disaster.

"We didn't expect this type of thing at the outset," said Chris Hughes, a Facebook spokesman. "In the beginning Facebook was a small project for Harvard kids that ended up exploding and becoming a major national site."

He added that the creators didn't expect that the site would act as a life line for some students during a national crisis.

After Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf region, Loyola was shut down. The university is currently being repaired and made ready for the students' proposed return in January. As a result, the student body was split apart and disbursed all over the nation.

"I wasn't planning on separating from my friends until graduation," said Waivers, who's from New Orleans. "I just want to go home."

"We were there for four days," said Catanzaro in reference to her and Wilson. Both hail from Connecticut.

All agree that BC has been more than accommodating to the students from Louisiana, but it's just not the same as living in the Big Easy.

"It's nice to be here in Boston because we're close to home, yet far enough away that we can't just go home," said Wilson.

Before going their separate ways, the Loyola students signed up on a Facebook group with their name and city to know where their friends were going. New groups have formed such as "BC Refugees" and "I Attend the University of Atlantis."

The Facebook has allowed Cantanzaro to keep in touch with her classmates not only from Loyola, but also with friends from her high school. Wilson uses the site to keep in touch with his roommate.

"We've made a nice community here, but we all are waiting to go home," said Catanzaro.

"We're waiting for January."

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