Inside Rensselaer
* Chinese Earthquake
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Following the earthquake, many buildings sustained serious damages. Above is an image of a building in Wenchuan County taken by a relative of Wenting Hou, who was working as a volunteer relief worker in the area and Logistics.
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Chinese Earthquake
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Pictured above, the makeshift tent city in the Chengdu region where Hou and her family resided for several days following the May 12 earthquake.
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International Student Organization Hosts Fundraiser for Chinese Earthquake Victims
Although far from home, members of Rensselaer’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) can still feel the impact of the earthquake that devastated much of China’s Sichuan province on May 12. According to recent news reports, more than 18,000 people are still missing, and the latest confirmed death toll is more than 69,000. Cities and towns were flattened by the earthquake, which measured 8.0 on the Richter scale, leaving millions homeless.

In an effort to assist family, friends, and other victims of the earthquake, the organization along with members of the Capital Region community hosted a fundraiser event on May 18. The event, held in West Hall, raised more than $100,000 (and counting) for the earthquake victims. More than 600 people attended the program, which featured several music performances and poems native to China evoking memories of the country and a longing for home. The Rensselaer Union organization includes approximately 400 members — many of them from mainland China. The event was coordinated by CSSA, in collaboration with the University at Albany CSSA organization, and the Chinese Community Center.

For some people, the earthquake was an unimaginable disaster. Wenting Hou, a Rensselaer graduate student majoring in physics, was watching television sitting in her apartment in the city of Chengdu, roughly 50 miles away from the epicenter, when she saw furniture shaking and things falling down. Shocked at first, but sensing that something terrible was happening, she rushed to her apartment balcony and saw people running out of their buildings.

“The first few seconds seemed to last forever,” said Hou. “My first thought was about my parents and I tried to call them, but the phone lines were busy. I was so relieved to hear my father’s voice a few seconds later, and he told me to leave my apartment because an earthquake had hit, and there may be aftershocks.

Hou and her family, along with thousands of Chengdu residents, chose to live in a city of tents for several days following the earthquake. Fortunately, the homes of those living in that region only sustained minimal damages.

“It is difficult for many of us studying here in the United States, when we see people in our country struggling and dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake, and we are so far from home,” said Lei Han, a Rensselaer graduate student studying architectural science, and an officer of CSSA. “As Chinese citizens, we feel obligated to help, and the fundraiser event was our way to show concern and support and develop a stronger connection with our motherland.”

So far, funds received from their efforts have been used to purchase additional camping tents and supplies.

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 11, July 7, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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