Evergreen celebrates activist's life

Students remember her words

OLYMPIA - Rachel Corrie was both ordinary and extraordinary.

She was a young woman still discovering herself and her place in the world. And she was an activist whose passion for human rights began when she was a child.

That's how those gathered at a remembrance Friday at The Evergreen State College described Corrie on the fourth anniversary of her death.

"Her strength, her courage, her commitment, her joy in life, we're here to celebrate that today," Evergreen faculty member Therese Saliba said of the event, which drew nearly 70 people.

Corrie was an Evergreen student who was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip, an area bordering Israel that's governed by the Palestinian Authority.

She was standing in front of a Palestinian home that was about to be razed.

Before she left for Gaza, Corrie was active in the Olympia peace movement and spent time at Evergreen studying local issues.

"When I think about Rachel, I think about the importance of community and the way she built relations," faculty member Anne Fischel said. "We're connected to Rachel in some ways in the work we do."

Corrie's parents, Cindy and Craig, attended the remembrance. Cindy Corrie was the first of several to read from her daughter's writings.

Writings described Rachel Corrie's thoughts as she grew into a teenager, trying to figure out who she was. Her last writings detailed what she saw, heard and felt in Gaza.

"Nothing could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here," she wrote. "You just can't imagine it unless you see it."

Several Evergreen students who didn't know Corrie but have read her writings shared their thoughts.

"She could really see the world naked," Evergreen senior Susannah Wright said. "She possessed the ability to make art with her words."

Tobi Vail, another Evergreen student, said she thought the 23-year-old's death brought an immediacy to Corrie's work.

"She was trying to speak for people who don't have a voice."

Heather Woodward covers education for The Olympian. She can be reached at 360-754-4225 or hwoodward@theolympian.com.