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Point Park Student Visiting Manchester Says Locals Show ‘Resiliency’ In Wake Of Concert Bombing

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Martin Rickett
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AP
People gather ahead of a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, England, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with Monday's concert bomb attack.

Alex Popichak, a student at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, was wrapping up a radio journalism workshop in Manchester, England when Monday's bombing at an Ariana Grande concert occurred.

Popichak and seven fellow journalism students were staying at hotel 2 miles from the concert venue and no one in their group was injured.

He spoke to 90.5 WESA's Larkin Page-Jacobs about his experience in the aftermath of the bombing.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

LARKIN PAGE-JACOBS: How did you find out about the bombing?

ALEX POPICHAK: One of my friends came across a Facebook post, and then it was flurry of Snapchat and text messages to make sure everybody was OK. From then on all my details came from the BBC.

PAGE-JACOBS: As a group of young journalists, how have you reacted to the bombing?

POPICHAK: We've been embedded here for the past eight or nine days, so we've really gotten to know the place and really gotten attached to the place. And so all of these great people that we've met, to have this happen to their city - a city that's quite a lot like Pittsburgh - it's kind of heartbreaking. 

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Credit Alex Popichak
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Hundreds fill Albert Square in Manchester, England during a vigil for those killed or injured during Monday night's bombing attack at a concert.

PAGE-JACOBS:  What are locals saying and feeling?

POPICHAK: It's very somber of course. The number one reaction we've gotten is, "We will overcome. We have in the past and we will in the future."

PAGE-JACOBS:  You're attending a vigil Tuesday - can you talk about where you are and what you're seeing?

POPICHAK: I'm currently standing in Albert Square which it in the city's center. I'm going to guess there's easily 1,500 people here and a bunch of media as well, but primarily local folks. 

PAGE-JACOBS: It's coincidence that you happened to be in Manchester when this bombing happened, what do you think your take-away is going to be?

POPICHAK: It's that resilience of the town of Manchester that keeps bubbling up. People are here with signs that say "I 'heart' MCR" and that say "Manchester Stands United," I can't stress the resiliency enough. It's a bright sunny day today and they're looking forward.

Larkin got her start in radio as a newsroom volunteer in 2006. She went on to work for 90.5 as a reporter, Weekend Edition host, and Morning Edition producer. In 2009 she became 90.5's All Things Considered host, and in 2017 she was named Managing Editor. She moderates and facilitates public panels and forums, and has won regional and statewide awards for her reporting, including stories on art, criminal justice, domestic violence, and breaking news. Her work has been featured across Pennsylvania and nationally on NPR.