Camila Heard

Camila Heard
Full-Time MBA Class of 2023


Professional Roles, Achievements and Activities

-ESADE Full Time MBA 2023
-ESADE North American International Experience Scholarship
-University of Miami (Bachelors)

What is invisible but essential about YOU? or ESADE? or Barcelona?

Something that’s invisible but essential about me is that I have lived through three different types of natural disasters. It might be cliché, but it´s true – this has taught me resilience and gratitude, as you never know what tomorrow will hold. And that when things are tough, just keep on moving, don’t stop.

The most significant experience was in 2004, when I was in Phuket on holiday during the tsunami that impacted a significant portion of Southeast Asia. It was December 26th 2004 when I woke up to trembling at about 7:00 AM. Still half asleep, I didn’t think much of it since l had been living in Tokyo at the time, where earthquakes were common.

My family and I tried to book an excursion to a nearby island but weren’t able to since the operator wasn’t leading that tour that day. Instead, we went on a snorkel tour. We later learned that that island had been completely wiped out by the tsunami.

At about 9:00 AM, we head to the beach to get on the boat. Once we’re there, my dad points out how far out the tide seemed to be compared to the day before. We didn’t think much of it, but that coupled with the trembling I had felt earlier in the morning, were the key indicators of an incoming tsunami.

We move on with the day and get on the boat and go out into the deeper ocean. After about an hour or so of travel, the captain announces the water isn’t safe for us to snorkel in. After some confusion in communicating between the captain and us he gets a radio call from shore announcing that a tsunami had hit, and we couldn’t return yet.

I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation until slowly the boat was surrounded by household items – beds, refrigerators, chairs, even TVs. If we looked closely to shore, we could see how the shore would appear and then disappear, a sign of aftershocks. Local fishermen on longboats drove around us selling lychees. We saw a german couple being ferried back to shore looking injured, dazed, and confused.

After what was probably 7 hours on the boat, we were finally able to return to shore. My brother and I got on a Thai long boat which was packed to the brim with items fishermen had collected from the sea. With the family together onshore, we had just enough time to gather our valuables before running through a destroyed hotel, passing overturned cars and fallen trees, to a car that would take us to a Buddhist temple up the hill.

We spent the night with a few hundred other hotel guests, waiting for instructions on how to evacuate back to Bangkok. The weirdest part was that in this daze that was the day after the tsunami, we walked into town and there were restaurants functioning. I even got my hair braided. We went to the internet café and after contacting family to let them know we were OK; my brother checked the NBA finals scores. Even in chaos, life went on.

After many more hours of waiting and uncertainty, my family was lucky enough to fly out of Phuket. Through this experience I learned that when you go through something difficult, stick close to the ones you love. Be grateful always, and we really are quite small in this world.

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