Colin Goddard, student injured in Virginia Tech University shootings recovers in Madagascar

Colin Goddard, the 21-year-old student who was shot and injured during the Virginia Tech University shootings recovers in Madagascar. He is one of the five people in his French class who survived when Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on April 16 and killed 32 people.

Three months later Goddard is working as one of the many young volunteers who spend their summer breaks in Madagascar, well known for its beaches and its unusual wildlife.

"It's all still fairly recent, it's only been a few months. And now I'm in a culture and a place where this information is not known, so it's good to be out of the craziness that's still involved with this incident. For a period of time I can gather myself, rethink things," he said in an interview earlier this month.

Goddard, who has not been in a classroom since the shootings, plans to return to school to complete his final year of International Studies.

Goddard's trip to Madagascar as a volunteer for the aid group CARE International had been planned before the shootings and he was determined to carry on, though he still walks with a slight limp and has a metal rod in his leg after being shot in the leg, buttocks and shoulder. Intense physiotherapy has meant that he has been able to climb some of the mountains that run along Madagascar's coast.

"I had this opportunity, to come to Madagascar, to experience the life here, and that wasn't possible if I couldn't walk. So it was a goal that I set myself, to be able to walk in time," he said.

The mental wounds are taking longer to heal.

"I ask myself why? Why did this happen? Why me? Some people say wrong place, wrong time, but I don't believe that. I was absolutely in the right place at the right time, where I was meant to be, in class learning," he said losing composure for the first time in the interview. "There were students killed all around me so I don't know why I survived."

Goddard was one of 16 pupils in his French class in room 211 of Norris Hall when Cho entered and started shooting.

He said he thought Cho was a policeman responding to earlier gunshots.

"It was only when he turned on us that I realized that this was the man causing all the commotion."

His teacher Jocelyne Couture-Nowak was one of the first to be killed and from the time the shooting began there was little any of them could do, he said.

"I just lay there, praying that he wouldn't know I was in the room, let alone breathing. I was just hoping I wouldn't hear any more of these gunshots; that he would leave us alone."

Cho has chained the doors of the building closed and after visiting other classrooms he returned to room 211 and carried on shooting before turning the gun on himself.

Cho had "clearly been ridiculed for all his time at Virginia Tech," Goddard said. "I don't want to say it was a direct result, but it was a result of people tormenting an individual that this happened."

Godard said he hoped that one result of the shooting might be that "people will be more accepting of other people. That they won't isolate people like this. I hope people will be more welcoming of others who aren't socially happy or socially adjusted."

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Author`s name Angela Antonova