01.07.2010 20 °C
On May 12, 2008, when we in Canada heard of the catastrophic earthquake in Sichuan province, we immediately thought of our friends and colleagues in the Wenchuan area. We felt so helpless, and it was weeks before we knew the full extent of the disaster and the identities of our Chinese colleagues who had died. People at both of our institutions immediately decided that we wanted to show our support. So, in consultation with our project partners in China, it was decided that we would raise money to provide a multimedia lab for the new Yingxiu Primary school. Vancouver Island University's efforts were spearheaded by Jennifer, our international activities manager, strongly supported by two Chinese students, Lisha and Haolei, and at Holland College by Jolene. Between the two institutions and their communities $30,000 was raised for the new lab.
As we approached the site chosen for the new primary school in Yingxui, we could see the remains of the nearby High School which was also devastated by the earthquake.
We were met at the new school site by the Vice Principal and 5 students.
The purpose of our visit was to unveil a plaque to commemorate our donation.
In the part of the school which is already complete we were thanked by the VP and by one of the students who made a touching speech.
He said, (translation) “…We won’t forget all your kindness and support. All the students will use and benefit from this interactive lab, and our students will study hard and use the learned computer skills to reciprocate your care and assistance to us. I believe that along with your help and support we will have a better and prosperous future.
On behalf of Yingxiu Primary School, I thank you once again for all of your kindness and help. I would like to extend my warmest regards to all our friends at Holland College and Vancouver Island University. Wishing you all the best and a bright future.
From the pupils of Yingxiu Primary School June 27th 2010”
I felt privileged and honored to have been able to attend this occasion. While the school and the lab are not finished, because of the time taken to choose a new location and clear away the remains of the old buildings, the government is determined that the school will be completed by the beginning of the school year in September 2010.
As we left we were each handed a small piece of rubble made into a memento as a sober and permanent reminder of all of the destruction which nature can cause.
(To be continued.....)