Chinese students help earthquake victims

A group of students is raising money to help rebuild the schools in China.

Betsy Graca

University student Pengyun Zeng’s classmates urged her to call her parents immediately on May 12, though she didn’t know why.

Then she heard about the earthquake that hit her home province in China, Sichuan, and panicked when she couldn’t reach her parents because no phone signal was available.

Zeng’s parents made it through the disaster – after spending a night in their car to be safe – and now the pharmaceutics graduate student has joined other University Chinese students to raise money for earthquake relief.

So far the roughly 20 Chinese students from the University Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars have raised about $14,000. Half the money has gone to the Chinese General Consulate in New York, which will forward the money to China. The rest will go to an organization rebuilding schools destroyed by the violent earthquake.

The students had a table in front of Coffman Union for a couple of days and this week will have a table outside of Moos Tower. A candle light vigil was also held on the Coffman lawn last week to mourn the earthquake victims.

“Many students donated hundreds of dollars and one student donated a thousand,” Lingtian Kong, the main organizer of the fundraising, said. “Considering they themselves are not wealthy, I am very amazed.”

Kong, vice president of FACSS, said after the local Chinese community saw pictures of the thousands of deceased students and teachers in China they felt it was necessary to aid relief.

“We just feel that it’s very tragic,” Kong said. “(The students) died too young.”

Students in China have their national college entrance exams coming up in the next few weeks. While the rest of the country will be taking the exam in early June, the students hit by the earthquake have had their exams pushed back until the area has recovered.

Kong said he and his fellow volunteers want to see the students in China have a place and appropriate conditions to prepare for the exam.

“It’s not like the SATs where you can take multiple times a year, you can only take it once year,” Kong said. “It’s kind of a once in a lifetime thing for many Chinese senior high school students.”

Zeng said the volunteers also want to see new schools built that could handle an 8 to 9 magnitude earthquake.

Last week, Chinese officials announced they would investigate the structures of the schools and why they collapsed, destroying thousands of classrooms.

Kong said China recovered after a massive earthquake in 1978 – with a death toll of over 200,000 people – and China would recover again.

“The whole country is very united on this issue,” he said. “And the government is trying to do its best to turn it around.”

Volunteer Han Zhang, from Beijing, said her homeland can overcome anything.

The graphic design graduate student said it was especially important to aid the students of China because they’re the future of the country.