The Yomiuri Shimbun
(May. 23, 2008)
MIANYANG, China–A Chinese kindergarten teacher has opened a school at a camp in Mianyang, China, for children displaced by the recent earthquake that struck Sichuan Province.
Zhu Xia, 32, visited an area hit by the quake in the Anxian district, about 40 kilometers from the center of Mianyang, on Saturday to donate goods to quake evacuees.
While at a camp for displaced people, she noticed that children looked depressed, and were wandering around with nothing to do. She concluded that they were traumatized by the physical injuries they suffered in the quake, or because they had lost family members.
As Zhu’s kindergarten in Chengdu is currently closed due to the risk of aftershocks, she decided to offer classes to the children at the camp.
On Sunday, she read a picture book to a class of eight. On Monday, 30 children gathered for her class. By Tuesday, the number jumped to about 150.
The school, which is held outside, has been named “Yang Guang” (Sunshine) school. As there are no chairs or desks, the children attending Yang Guang sit on the ground, surrounded by tents set up for the evacuees.
When a group of Yomiuri Shimbun reporters covering the earthquake visited the school, children, who were taking an English class, shouted, “Happy!”
“Though the children were fearful of aftershocks, it now appears they feel safer by being with others of a similar age,” Zhu said.
Zhu returned to Chengdu on Wednesday, and volunteers from Hong Kong have taken over.
At the school, children are taught how to prevent diseases while they are living in the tents and how to react toward children who lost their parents in the disaster.
The school has made children in the district far happier, and adults look relieved when they drop by the school and see their children in class, residents said.
Zhao Lin, 11, who lost his parents in the earthquake, still looked depressed, but said, “Now I know I’m not alone.”
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Guardian’s Tania Branigan tells the incredible story of the pupils of Liu Han Hope Elementary school (刘汉希望小学) of Beichuan (北川) County, who survived the earthquake thanks to the school building which stood firm, then when realised being cut off and threatened by aftershocks and rockslide, trekked through the mountains to reach the safety, escorted by their teachers and local police.
The Liu Han Hope Elementary school in Beichuan county stands in the heart of the disaster zone yet, while hundreds died across Sichuan province in classrooms that crumbled to dust, every one of its 483 pupils survived last week’s quake.
China yesterday raised its toll of the dead and missing to 70,000, and warned of a “desperate need” for tents to shelter millions of homeless survivors. But the story of the children’s escape is a rare piece of good news. While other schools disintegrated, theirs stood firm. Even the three-storey glass wall remained intact. When the slopes around them began to threaten their safety, staff marched pupils as young as five out of their remote home on an all-day, all-night trek.
“It was nothing outstanding - just a teacher’s responsibility,” Xiao Xiaochuan said. “It was not done by one teacher but by the whole faculty and students, with help from police and officials.”
(The story is translated into English by Song P.)
Schoolgirl Kept on Reading While Being Buried Under the Ruins
Her Extraordinary Strength Reduced the Teacher to Tears
“Have you by any chance found that lovely, studious girl called Qingqing?” At the rescue scene, Quanhong Chen, the class instructor of Unit One in Grade One of Rong Hua Town Junior Middle School kept asking, as she knew, Qingqing, though coming from a poverty stricken family, was blessed with lofty aspirations, and often immersed herself in reading under torchlight on her way home after school.
Whenever a body of a school kid was pulled out of the debris of collapsed buildings, Quanhong Chen wept her tears in silence. “Only a day ago they were still full of lives, bouncing around joyfully…How can this be happening?”
Luckily, at last, the schoolgirl named Qingqing Deng was rescued by the officers and solders of Unit 3 Hydropower Rescue Team from the Armed Police Force. What moved the class instructor Chen and the rescue team was that up until she was rescued from the nightmarish ruins, she kept on reading her textbook under the torchlight. She said, “I was terrified as it was pitch black down there. Feeling cold and hungary, I have had to engage in reading as to spare myself from the fears” Her honesty, just as her strength, deeply moved everyone. Quanhong Chen burst into tears. While holding Qingqing in her arms, she said, “Good kid, all will be well as long as you got out of there alive!”
In another scenario similar to that of Qingqing Deng, a girl called Yao Luo, had her hands and legs both injured during the earthquake. While being buried under the ruins, she was humming and singing the “Piano Dreams” unceasingly in an effort to keep herself stay awake. these efforts not only kept her alert, but also, in the end, rewarded her with the triumph over death.
The audiences are warned that the first half of this video contains some highly distressful pictures (they may have seen too many). However, in the second half, the author of this video, who was born and raised in Yingxiu and Dujiangyan, expressed his sorrow and love to his hometown, which is heart-warming.