When bombs tore through four trains during Madrid's Thursday morning commute, killing 200, wounding 1,500 and plunging the country of Spain into the throes of grief, Spaniards aptly deemed this heinous act their equivalent of 9/11.The events of 9/11 gave all Americans a painfully clear vision of what it is like to sift through rubble for innocent victims, amass impromptu triage stations and tell families that a loved one is not coming home from their daily commute. Words cannot convey the confusion, anguish, panic and misery millions of Americans felt in the days, weeks and months following the terror attacks. There is no substitute for personal experience in this regard. Speaking from this experience, we would like to express our sympathy for the people of Madrid and our solidarity with Spain during this trying crisis.

It is the least we can do. After that black Tuesday two and a half years ago, Spain joined in concert with much of the Western world in mourning what we remember as one of our most trying hours. But now, in one of theirs, Americans have largely failed to reciprocate those condolences. Even on this campus, where many claim to hold internationalist worldviews, the response to the terrorist attack has been just as muted as in the rest of the country.

While the disparity in reactions is a function of America's dominance in the world, this doesn't excuse our apathy. Too often, the United States isolates itself from the problems faced by all modern democratic societies. The attacks of 9/11 and last Thursday were not just assaults on America and Spain, they represent a threat faced by all Western nations.

More so, the terrorism in Madrid has great implications for Brandeis. Five Brandesians are abroad there now, and we are greatly relived that they were unharmed in the bombings. However, there are also students at Brandeis who are from Madrid, whose families we must consider. Let us not forget the students who have recently come back from studying there and students who hope to study there in the future.

Over the past few years, Madrid has been an increasingly hot spot for American students who want to immerse themselves in Spanish culture. We hope that the typically valuable experience of studying abroad will not be diminished by fear. As the capital of a country with incredibly rich history, Madrid has a great deal to offer and to teach. Despite the terrorist bombings, students should not feel deterred from considering this incredibly lively destination. We yearned for a sense of normalcy following the terror attacks in this nation; we must contribute to this sense abroad in any way we can.

America has lost much of the international sympathy it garnered in the wake of 9/11. Thus, students traveling abroad have vital roles in disproving the impressions of American elitism and isolationism. We can start to do this by repaying the sympathy shown to us by nations like Spain. We live in an increasingly polarized world; let us not foster a greater rift between nations who are our allies and friends.