• Kezia Charles (left), a sophomore in mathematics, showed her father Carlos (right) and sister Adisa around campus during Family Weekend. The two were visiting from Trinidad.

    Kezia Charles (left), a sophomore in mathematics, showed her father Carlos (right) and sister Adisa around campus during Family Weekend. The two were visiting from Trinidad.

    Photo / Laura Wulf

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  • Nobel laureate in economics Professor Robert Solow chatted with parents following his luncheon address to them.

    Nobel laureate in economics Professor Robert Solow chatted with parents following his luncheon address to them.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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Family Weekend draws parents and siblings

Kezia Charles (left), a sophomore in mathematics, showed her father Carlos (right) and sister Adisa around campus during Family Weekend. The two were visiting from Trinidad.


Worries about terrorism, anthrax and flying delays didn't keep parents away from Family Weekend, but some still had trouble keeping those things off their minds.

"We're worried there, we're worried here," said Susan Dunn, a physician from the Washington, D.C. area who attended family weekend with her husband Mitchell, also a physician. They came to visit their freshman son Alan and make sure he was prepared in case of a major bioterrorist attack.

"We're bringing him his antibiotics," said Susan Dunn, referring to the supply of the Anthrax-fighting drug Cipro they brought along.

"I think everybody's nervous," said Mitchell Dunn. The couple drove from Potomac, Md., choosing the good old-fashioned highway over security delays on both ends of a flight. They were staying with his mother in Connecticut and planned to attend "a few lectures, go to dinner, meet his roommates"--the usual family weekend activities, said Mitchell Dunn.

The number of people registering for the weekend--1,800--was higher than last year, and the events that required registration were fully booked. Parents attended lectures, including a talk by Nobel laureate Robert Solow at a Friday luncheon; tours; movies; and a Saturday afternoon community meeting with President Charles Vest, Chancellor Phillip Clay, and Deans Robert Redwine and Larry Benedict.

Sophomore Kezia Charles was delighted to show her father Carlos and sister Adisa around campus. "I haven't seen them since August a year ago," she said with a big smile. Carlos and Adisa had arrived recently from Trinidad and were staying with her in Burton-Conner. Though shivering in the cold breeze, they claimed to be enjoying themselves.

"It's cold," said Adisa Charles. "But it seems like a decent place. The people are friendly." The three planned to take in a Duck Tour, a dance performance and the Nobel laureate luncheon.

Prakash and Neema Ranka visited their son Mitun, a freshman from Hobbs, N.M., and stayed at the Omni Parker Hotel in Boston during this, their third visit to campus.

"We are very nervous about having a son with skin a different color," said Prakash, an Indian-American. "He grew up in a small town where everybody knows him. But here... I have a kid in London, here and in Washington, D.C. So you can see that the parents have fear."

Despite the worry that parents voiced, they seemed in good spirits and apparently engaged in the traditional dorm-room-supplies shopping--helping the MIT Coop, which offered 25 percent off housewares and dorm supplies, regain some of the sales momentum lost since the terrorist attacks.

"We've been having difficulties in sales after Sept. 11, but sales were about the same as last year for these two weekend days," said MIT Coop assistant manager Miguel Suarez.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 24, 2001.


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