I’m sorry to delay posting this blog entry, but understandably, communication between the US and Chengdu was disrupted for a while after China’s terrible earthquake.
We had an exchange student from Chengdu, China five(?) years ago. Her name Yuan Xi, and we have kept in close contact with her since then. (While she was here, we called her Emma.) Imagine my concern when I heard of the quake and saw the destruction on the news. Cell phones didn’t work at first, and email was sporadic. She managed to get an email through, but I was unable to send a reply. And, of course, the last thing I wanted to do was bother her when there was likely so much that needed to be done.
Xi (pronounced She) is one of those people who jumps in to help in times of trouble and that’s exactly what she did. I finally managed a cell phone call through to her and obtained her permission to post her first email on my blog, which follows:
Finally I have a chance to stop to write to you. I am sorry to keep you worry about me for so long. What a mess here since the earthquake had happened. I was at home alone when the earthquake took place. Our building began to swing suddenly. People shouted and all ran out of the building, so did I. I was very frightened. After the earthquake, all the phone lines had been cut off, I could not contact any of my relatives. Even worse, my grandmother was still ill in the hospital, and I did know how frighted she must be especially because she is deaf.
I quickly rode a bike to the hospital. On the streets, people were everywhere, and the traffic was stopped dead already, no car could move at all. When I got to the hospital, I found all the patients had been placed on the ground downstairs. From hundreds of them, I found my grandmother who was sitting on a bench with a painful expression on her face. And next to her was my grandfather who looked extremely worried.
The moment I saw them, I cried. My grandmother was already in a lot of pain, but because of the earthquake, she could not even have a bed to make herself feel better. At night all of our families gathered in the hospital and talked about what we would do next.
Because Chengdu is not the Seismic center, and most buildings are strong enough, our city seems fine, no big destruction, only some wall fissures in some houses, like our apartment. So for the aftershocks, we thought we had better not to go back home for some time. All these days, we have been living outside. And people live in their cars, on the streets, etc. I slept on the grass-ground of a park with my best friend one day. And I felt myself like a real beggar.
In the Seismic center, Wenchuan country of Sichuan, and the placed closer to it the situation is very terrible. Too many houses have been destroyed and too many people died or became homeless. We all felt very sad for them, they were all our family.
After the earthquake had happened, a teacher of mine working in the TV station asked me to go to one of the most terrible disaster areas with him to make a news report, and I did go there. I understood how dangerous it could be if I go, we may get hurt by the strong aftershocks, and it was even possible that we could not make it back. But I still wanted to go. I felt so bad that so many Chinese people died in my province, and I hoped to do something for them.
We spent some days in the disaster areas, we took them food, water, clothes,etc. And also innumerable Chinese people have made blood and money donation for them. I felt very proud of our nation! When I was in the disaster areas as a reporter, I cried a lot. What we saw was too sad. I do not know how to describe the pictures. Too many dead bodies, too many tears, etc. I got injured in a strong aftershock, but I am okay now, do not worry.
Now, I am back to Chengdu. The city is still as beautiful as before. We never expected there would be an earthquake happen to us. And we were not ready to lose so many. Life is precious, and I am so lucky to have it. From May 19th to 21th, the three days are our National Mourning Day for all the people died in the earthquake. It is an extremely painful mourning to all the dead compatriots, and everyone gives best wishes for all the survivors.
I am so tired, and the only thing that I wanna do now is to have a lot of sleep.
I love all of you~~~~~~
An Update for June 20th:
Xi has graduated from university with a degree (roughly translated) in bi-lingual broadcasting and communications. She is currently working on a program to benefit the children of the earthquake who were hurt or left orphaned. Xi will also emcee for the event.
Here is a photograph she sent of herself (center) at graduation. She is pictured with her two best friends.
Congratulations Xi! I imagine that where ever you go in life, compassion and beauty will follow.