For my group's Photojournalism class, we were tasked to create a photo story as our final project. Since I ran "Humans of Virginia Tech" at the time, Eden was featured in a second story as an update to her post from last year. I remember reading Eden's story where I was speechless and saddened that good people like her, were raped and held hostage. The fact that she decided to go public with her near-death experience and trauma was another thing, but her second HOVT post made it clear that she was doing better. We decided to do our project on her story and how she's grown since, while still dealing with her past traumas. It's a story that still deeply troubles me and makes me hope that injustices like these need to end. The following quotes are from Eden.

Duck Pond | Blacksburg, Virginia

Sony a7

50 mm

“I was terrified after the story was first posted. I didn’t want people to see me. I didn’t want people to see me and think, ‘Oh, it’s that girl. The damaged one.’ But then I think it was the next semester, I was talking to a professor and he already knew the story the whole time. Then I was with my group and was telling them that I was going through some legal stuff, and one of the guys had seen the story and he had just never mentioned it. I’m almost grateful for that; that they let me bring it up on my own terms. They didn’t respect me any less for it. It was certainly weird finding out that they knew this deeply personal thing about me outside of a professional realm, but it was also comforting in a way that I didn’t have to explain my story.”

“I feel like I'm finally beginning to do something besides live in this trauma. I'm finally getting to pursue what makes me happy, and I'm really excited about continuing to be a resident assistant. I'm excited about the programs that I'm a part of. I'm the treasurer of the BARC club, which is where you get to rent puppies. That makes me incredibly happy, so yeah, I'm excited to finally experience college. I feel like my freshmen year was just surviving. I was in a state of shock the entire year, and now I get to say, ‘oh look, I have a boyfriend. I have a beautiful life. I have support and the ability to go out and do these things.’ Some days may be worse than others, but on those good days, I can finally experience what it means to be a college student."

“My great grandmother was in the Philippines when World War II happened. Her uncle was a former President, meaning she was a high profile target. Apparently, she had to bury all their furniture and goods so that the Japanese couldn't find them. They had to go and live in a cave. She saw one of her brothers starve to death and one of her uncles get shot. She had a million and one children as is the Catholic way. Every single one of them was terrified of this woman. She was the scariest, baddest bitch that I ever knew. For my birthday this year, I got her ring. I used to always paint my nails glittery whenever I had a test or something adverse because I was like, at least I got a little bit of sparkle in my life. Now I've got this glittery ring that I look down at and I think about all the things she went through. She's always been my definition of resilience. I feel like she's with me and I love her. I wanna be as scary as her one day, but as good hearted as she was."

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