Freshman Lin Shi first heard about the destruction in China from Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Peter Schwartzman on her way to class. She then quickly checked her e-mail to see that her mom had sent her a message, her family was fine but her hometown of Chengdu had been hit bad.
On May 12 a level 7.9 earthquake hit China. The epicenter was at Wenchaun, near the city of Chengou in the Sichuan region. So far the death toll has reached 40,075 with 247, 645 injured according to the Chinese government.
Shi has visited the site of the epicenter and thinks about all the people that lived there. She said a journalist described the area as a huge tomb where everyone is buried.
Shi and others have set up a booth to fundraise for disaster relief and plan to send the money they raise to the Chinese embassy or the Red Cross. Tabling will continue through Friday. So far they have raised more than $120 tabling, and the Sigma Nu fraternity has pledged to donate $600.
Currently being in Galesburg is difficult for Shi, who is trying to balance her schoolwork keeping in contact with everyone back at home.
“It’s like my life is a double life,” she said.
Her friends and professors have expressed their condolences.
“There are a lot of other Knox people who came to me just to say they felt so bad about this,” Shi said. “I feel I can’t do anything…I feel so isolated and the only thing is to set up something and fundraise.”
She plans to go home for about three months after the term ends to volunteer with disaster relief.
“What really moves me is the Prime minister [Wen Jiabao] went to the place the second day,” Shi said. It was difficult for her to see her leaders crying on TV. Shi is proud of how everyone is uniting to comfort and organize people and to come up with rescue plans.
Shi notes that the Chinese government has had a hard year responding to the incidents with the Tibetan monks, the storm at the beginning of the year, controversies over the Olympics, and now this earthquake.
“Going through these hardships, the Chinese people are connecting more,” she said.
The Knox community can also help with restoration efforts by attending Food Around the World Potluck hosted by Friends Across Borders at noon on Sunday in the Intercultural Center, near the art wall in the quads.