Monday, May 19, 2008

Earthquake update from China

I just arrived in Beijing a few hours ago. Today is the first day of National Mourning for quake victims. The minute I got in the taxi, all I heard on the car radio was about the mourning across the country and how so many people want to donate and volunteer. A live program reported on Beijing residents donating medicine, food, and toiletry products to the Sichuan earthquake area. The program host spoke with the Red Cross director in Sichuan and asked what Sichuan needed most. Listeners were asked to donate those products, and people crowded one bus station where all the donated goods were gathered for delivery to Sichuan. Hundreds of volunteers there helped drivers load delivery trucks. Some parents even took their children to the site to help and experience this aid firsthand

I called my friends as soon as I got home. All we talk about is the quake and the mourning. One girlfriend told me she has been crying every day, but also volunteering every day. Another asked me how the Western media reports on this tragedy and what Westerners think of China's rescue efforts. I was totally moved by all these conversations. I'd have never imagined people in the whole country, even though they don't have friends or relatives in Sichuan, consider this their personal tragedy. I later heard on the radio that at 2:28 this afternoon (the earthquake happened on May 12, 2:28 p.m.), the whole country stopped doing everything for mourning for three minutes, even all the cars, trains and boats! The radio stations interview people across the country, and everyone tells their own emotional stories about how they mourn, how they consider this a personal loss and how they're helping, donating, volunteering, and supporting victims. All the poetry and talks dedicated to victims and survivors leave us all in tears. One live radio show even reported on the mourning in the Chinese consulate in New York. The Chinese in China and overseas are all united in mourning while continuing to pour support and donations to the quake region. This tragedy has really evoked amazing strength and unity in China, unlike anything I've ever seen! I'll keep you posted in the coming week.

To learn more about the mourning, please click here.