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Students attend online talk with former hostage

Aug 30, 2021

Ashleigh Mills
Democratic Club Executive

Last Thursday, a number of Campion students were generously sponsored by president Dr Paul Morrissey to attend an online talk entitled “Six Years a Hostage”, given by Steve McGown on his experience as the longest-serving prisoner ever to be captured by Al Qaeda.

Steve walked through the harrowing years of his captivity, spent moving around from camp to camp in the vast expanse of the Sahara desert, and the lessons he learnt from the depths of isolation, anxiety, helplessness, and fear—all topics that are close to home for many of us currently living in the throes of Covid-19 lockdowns.

Steve’s inspiring message was, therefore, very pertinent: no matter what situation you find yourself in, you are always, always responsible for your attitude to it. That is the one thing you can control, even when you are utterly helpless in every other way.

Steve elaborated on the ways he kept himself mentally afloat — holding to a routine, having creative projects to work on, exercising, staying focused on his reason for living — to one day see his family again.

Steve witnessed to the fact that, as humans, we are capable of bearing more and enduring more than we realise. Necessity can force us to live in extraordinary ways, and for Steve that meant surviving on the barest of material possessions and physical nourishment. Yet Steve not only survived — he declares suffering taught him much that his previous, materialistic world could not. There is certainly a lesson in that for us all.

On behalf of the Campion students in attendance, I would like to thank Dr Morrissey for his generosity in giving us the chance to hear Steve’s story and continue to think on it.