Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | October 10, 2014

In sadness, we pull together

The sun shined brightly on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. It was another beautiful day on the campus of the American University in Bulgaria. Students hustled from dorm to class, from one building to the next. Professors pushed their material. Midterms were just around the corner. But the sun. It was so bright. It was so warm. Winter’s chill might be around the corner, but for one more day at least, we could bask in it.

Those of us here in Blagoevgrad — and those who are part of our community — will remember this day. But we will not remember it because of the sun’s warmth. We will remember it for the tragic turn it took shortly after noon. One of our students, a young man named Boris Kodikov, fell to his death from the balcony of the student center. The fall may have been intentional or accidental. It may have been the act of a playful boy or a troubled young man. It’s likely we’ll never know. The motive of his maddening passing dies with him. And we are left to sort it out in our own way, in our own time.

On Thursday evening, our university’s president, Kevin Aspegren, poured out his heart to this community during a candlelight vigil attended by hundreds. He spoke of the pain we were feeling. He talked about the power of pulling together as one, as a family. And others spoke, too. Eloquently. Students who were hurting shared their pain and their love for their friend. They prayed for him. They asked for peace. They hoped he ascended to a better place. We all pledged to be there for each other.

In the days ahead, we’ll pull together. We will remember. But we will also move on. We will stress about midterms and finals. We will battle procrastination and deadlines. We will laugh. And we will cry. But we won’t forget.

Here’s what we we’ll do. When someone is hurting, we’ll remember to throw an arm around them. We’ll give comfort. We’ll listen. We’ll be a family.

igor pic

Photo by Igor Myakotin / Hundreds of students honored a fallen student during a candlelight vigil.



  1. So sorry to read this, Mark.

  2. Good read. Reminds me of freshman year at Marquette, when a classmate jumped to his death from our floor on the dorm’s “penthouse” level. No doubt about the troubled kid four decades ago. RIP then and now.

  3. I am deeply touched by your heartbreaking ā€” but beautiful ā€” post, Mark. There is no way to make sense of such a senseless death, no matter the cause. My heart goes out to Boris Kodikov and to everyone who knew him. I hope that on this sad anniversary his friends will indeed remember to throw an arm around each other. To give comfort. To listen. And to be a family.

    To steal your own wise words: We’re all members of an extended family, and we must carry on … in Boris’ memory.

    My thoughts are with you and your community tonight.

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