MSD students who traveled to New Zealand for youth summit react to attacks

PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors who traveled to New Zealand to attend a youth summit last year said the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch hit close to home.

The MSD survivors have a special connection to Christchurch after a group traveled there back in July to collaborate with students in the area who had also been rocked by tragedy.

“Going all the way to New Zealand, going that far to talk about something that happened here at Stoneman Douglas, and just for something somewhat eerily similar to happen there is just insane,” said MSD student Adam Habona.

The group of 28 MSD survivors traveled to Christchurch for a week to meet with a group of students called the Student Volunteer Army.

The students shared ideas after the Parkland tragedy and planted trees in New Zealand in memory of the 17 MSD victims.

Now, their friends in Christchurch are suffering from their own massacre.

“It is definitely stunning. Hard to believe and really put into words,” said MSD student Keyshawn Cole.

“I was actually in utter disbelief,” added another MSD student.

“I can tell you I was beyond shocked. I didn’t expect anything to happen over there,” said another MSD student.

The Parkland survivors reached out to their friends in New Zealand to show their support, Friday.

“This just feels too similar. I reached out to friends as soon as I heard it, and them sharing their stories with me and what they are going through was just like, ‘Wow, I went through the same exact thing,'” said MSD student Isaac Christian.

Much like Parkland, Christchurch is known as a safe city.

There is very little violent crime in that area, so the tragedy came as a huge shock.

“They were all on lockdown, and we know what that’s like, to be scared for your life and be hiding and not knowing what’s going to happen,” said MSD student Rebecca Schenid. “That’s a terrible thing to have in common that I never expected or wanted to have in common with them.”

The MSD students vowed to help and support their friends affected by the tragedy.

“They are a very strong group of people. Every single one of them has so much character and so much heart and just so much passion for the things that they do for themselves and the community,” said Cole. “I have no doubt in my mind the response and retaliation they will bring in effort to bring their people back together is going to be amazing.”

The students have been in constant communication with their friends in New Zealand as a show of solidarity.

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