• China: Olympics, the earthquake, and how we fit into the grand scheme

    by  • May 20, 2008 • China • 0 Comments

    posted by Sarah

    It’s been quite hectic these past few weeks here, for several reasons which have made global news (and some that haven’t).

    First off, there’s the earthquake that’s ravaged Sichuan Province and left tens of thousands dead and injured in its wake. It’s a horrific tragedy, and here in China there are massive efforts to bring medical aid, financial support, and the appropriate amount of respect for those suffering. Although the quake didn’t affect our area, the aftermath of the earthquake has been felt in ways large and small.

    To its credit, the government has sprung into action and the rescue efforts have been immediate and large-scale. Its reaction, in turn, have spurred many Chinese to support relief efforts in herculean ways. (Actually, you can read about this civil mobilization in this New York Times article.)

    The day after the quake, the square in front of the cafeteria was a sea of large travel bags ready to send to victims, filled with blankets and provisions. We donated some money through our school, and many of our colleagues and students did likewise. The Chinese government has called for a three-day halt to entertainment, including movie theaters, online video websites and game sites, as well as the Olympic torch relay. (This was a bit unfortunate for us, since Sarah’s birthday fell on the first day of the entertainment moratorium, effectively killing Joel’s plan to take her to see a movie.)

    Yesterday, there was a national moment of “silence” for the earthquake victims at 2:28 pm. (Silence, in this case, actually meant the lonely wail of air raid horns, and for you to honk your own horn as insistently as you can.) Since all of China is on Beijing time, that means the entire country stood still for 3 minutes at that exact time. It was an eerie atmosphere: We were biking downtown when the air raid horn sounded; all traffic stopped (including pedestrians) and we gazed, astounded, amidst the cacophany.

    Although the relay has been postponed, we in Shaoxing still held the Olympic festivities, and the Olympic torch came through Shaoxing last Saturday. Here’s a short presentation with video and pictures of the event, which conveniently came through the campus on which we live.



    Sarah grew up in Colorado but considers herself a Chinese-Malaysian-English-American. Her favorite thing to do is read in bed, or some sunny spot on a couch.

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