How to Help with Sichuan Earthquake Relief...

An email written by University of Washington Professor of Anthropology and the Director of UWWW Sichuan Exchange, Steve Harrell. UWWW Sichuan Exchange is the program I am a part of.

Dear Friends:

As the massive earthquake fades from the US media, the needs of the survivors continue. We are proud that a team from the University of Washington, including the students and site manager of our Sichuan Exchange program, the people at the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students, and the UW Combined Fund Drive, have united to find a way that the UW and other university communities can make a difference in the massive relief effort now going on and the even more massive reconstruction effort that will have to begin soon.

People and organizations in Sichuan need money and supplies. We have arranged with the Combined Fund Drive and FIUTS to be able to transmit money quickly to our people on the ground in Chengdu, who will in turn provide money and supplies to local branches of large international organizations who cannot necessarily get funds quickly from their own central offices (such as a joint project of Conservation International and Oxfam) and to purchase supplies for local Chinese organizations that cannot receive foreign funds directly, such as the Chengdu Urban Rivers Network, which is working in the devastated city of Dujiangyan, as well as student organizations at Sichuan University.

You can contribute now through CEA or with FIUTS, where you will find a fuller description of what we are doing as well as a way to contribute on-line. You can also contribute in other ways specified on the websites.

Tonight at 8:30pm, the Chinese Student Association and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association will be holding a candlelight vigil in the Quad on the University of Washington Seattle campus. They will take donations on site.

Finally, on Thursday at 7:00pm in Kane Hall 220, there will be a panel about the earthquake, co-sponsored by the Jackson School of International Studies, the China Studies Program, and the Northwest Seismic Network. It will include descriptions of what it was like by people who were there and are now here, an analysis of the geology, and more about our relief efforts.

Thank you very much for considering us.

Stevan Harrell
Department of Anthropology
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

UW students in Chengdu start earthquake relief organization...

Article from the University f Washington Daily:

UW students in China start earthquake relief organization

By Halley Griffin
May 20, 2008

Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Morgan

A small group of University of Washington undergraduates studying at Sichuan University are in the process of founding their own organization to help earthquake victims in Sichuan province, China. The organization, which they plan to register as a nonprofit, is called China Earthquake Aid (CEA).

The students want to provide immediate disaster relief and aid in rural reconstruction, said Stevan Harrell, a professor of anthropology at the UW and the program director of the UW Worldwide Sichuan University Exchange.

The effort has been spearheaded by Steve Margitan, a junior international studies major, Geoffrey Morgan, a third-year student in civil and environmental engineering and international studies, and David Johnsrud, a junior geography major, Harrell said. The involvement of two other students in the organization remains unclear.

Ten UW students were studying at Sichuan University in Chengdu, a city approximately 55 miles from the epicenter of last Monday’s quake. The students are all safe, secure and doing well, said Cameron Frisch, the interim director of the UW’s International Programs and Exchanges.

UW officials decided last Tuesday to give the students the option to evacuate while still receiving full credit for the academic year, Frisch said.

“It’s important to stress that remaining was voluntary,” Harrell said. “This was a courageous thing for them to do because the UW was very willing to facilitate leaving.”

Five students did evacuate and are expected to return to Chengdu within two weeks after staying in Shanghai, Harrell said.

Margitan and Morgan were studying in Starbucks with another student when the earthquake hit, Margitan wrote in an e-mail Saturday.

“On my way home was when I started to see the true extent of the damage and what had really happened,” Morgan wrote to family and friends shortly after the quake.

“Everywhere I went people were milling about the streets afraid to go back into their buildings, crying out to try and find friends and loved ones, cursing their cell phones for not being able to call anyone.”

The goal of CEA is to act as a middleman between potential donors and domestic non-governmental organizations, Johnsrud wrote in his blog. Donations will be made through a Web site, and CEA will purchase supplies based on requests from domestic groups.

Getting direct foreign financial aid to China can be complicated, Harrell said, so CEA will be able to donate material aid to organizations already working in China.

The donation Web site, chinaearthquakeaid.org, was expected to be up and running by 5 p.m. yesterday, Harrell said. As of press time, the Web site is not yet live. The UW Combined Fund Drive will also accept donations designated to CEA through checks or payroll deductions.

Money donated through the fund drive will not be released until July, but Harrell said there will still be a lot to do in July.

The students plan to contact other universities in Washington state to get them involved with the project. They are also working with Joe Parker, an engineer and grad student at Portland State University, to involve Oregon universities.

Meanwhile, the UW students in Chengdu have resumed their regular studies in addition to working on earthquake relief. They are working with Eddie Schmitt, a UW site manager who has lived in Chengdu for three years.

Chengdu was not affected in the same way as many other communities in Sichuan province, Frisch said.

“I think that actually this is a fantastic learning experience,” he said. “Obviously it’s under difficult circumstances, but they’ve really been inspired to start this relief effort.”


学生四川大学说 - Current UW-SU Students say...

This comes from a current University of Washington student studying in Chengdu. This is only a section of his email but I think it might help explain to you what life in Chengdu is like right now. Also, I have no reason to believe that my trip will be postponed or delayed due to this crisis. However, I am certain that my stay in Chengdu will be personally effected by it.

"...Although numbers range greatly, some have said 200 people in Chengdu died. The epicenter of the quake was located fifty miles from Chengdu and much of the talk revolves around Wenquan where the number of casualties was highest. Structural damage here appears to be limited but people are still shaken up. Many people did not sleep in their homes last night—instead opting for their cars parked on the street, tents in parks, etc.

There seemed to be very few problems following the quake with communities banding together, watching one-another's kid, providing food, and most importantly emotional comfort. There was a couple riot police downtown today to ensure safety. Chengdu has had very few earthquakes in its history and for most people this was the first one they had experienced. Although the major earthquake came at about 2:30 PM yesterday, aftershocks have been rather regular continuing all through last night and we just had one as I write this a whole day later. Almost every store and restaurant is closed in the city today and it is likely school will be cancelled again tomorrow.

Thank you for expressing concern over the situation. Again, my friends and I are fine, however the extent of the damage here is great. Please extend your thoughts to those who have suffered here..."
- S. M.


四川大地震- Sichuan Quake...

As most of you now know, Sichuan experienced a magnitude 7.9 earthquake today. It reportedly killed more than 8,500 people, including as many as 5,000 people in a single county. The tremors were felt as far away as Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.

However, contrary to what you might expect, Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, seems to be relatively intact and all of the current UW students studying there are reported to be fine. Instead, it appears that the peripheral cities and townships were hit the hardest. Sichuan is a growing industrial and economic power in China but it is also home to some of the more impoverished villages in China and is teaming with ethnic minorities. (China is home to 55 minority groups, non Han, who make up about 10% of the total population.) These areas have poor infrastructure, old buildings, and many homes are made of mud or clay. It is not a surprise they managed poorly.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao(温家) described the situation as a “severe disaster” and called for “calm, confidence, courage and efficient organization.” President Hu Jintao(胡)ordered an “all out” effort to aid people in the region and soldiers were dispatched for disaster relief efforts. China has not asked for international relief aid but unlike Burma, who was ripped apart by Cyclone Nargis 10 days ago, China has a chance of success.


地图我的新家 - Map of my new home

Here is a map of where I will be living for the next year: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. I will be attending Sichuan University from late August 2008 to early July 2009 - 10 months.

Distance between Beijing and Chengdu = 1518 km (943 miles)
Beijing to Chengdu by train = 24 hrs
Beijing to Chengdu by plane = 2 hrs
Hong Kong to Chengdu by train = 30 hrs
Hong Kong to Chengdu by plane = 2 1/2 hrs


一 二 三 四 五 - Numbers & time in Chinese...

So, I know that many of you cannot read the date or time on my blog. That’s fine because it is only there to look cool. In order to assist you all, I’ve provided this handy chart:

These are the numbers 1-10:
1 ______
2 ______ èr
3___ ___ sān
4___ ___
5 ___ ___wǔ
6 ___ ___liù
7 ______
8 ___ ___
9 ___ ___jiǔ
10 __ ___shí

These are the days of the week:
Sunday____星期 日
Monday ___星期 一
Tuesday___星期 二
Wednesday_星期 三
Thursday __星期 四
Friday____ 星期 五
Saturday __星期 六

The character for month is this: 月.
When this character has a number in front of it (i.e. 三月) this shows the number of the month. So, the month 三月 is March. (November and December are written as 十一月, and 十二月 respectively).

For the time of day:
下午 is pm.
上午 is am.


吃的点心 - Eating dim sum as bribery...

So now that my ticket is booked you'd think I'd be set. Ha! Unfortunately there is still so much to do to prepare for my trip and I still have more than a month of school remaining. This weekend I bought my first backpacking backpack. To say that I am a little proud would be an understatement. I was very nervous to do this without my dad, a guru in all things hiking related (at least to me), so I drug along my roommate with the promise (bribed really) that we would have dim sum before I ventured into REI.

The store was packed due the anniversary sale going on, which was one of the reasons I chose to go that weekend. Never the less, the guys in the pack department were very helpful after I explained what I planned. I tried on a few and even got to have some weight put in them. ^_^ In the end I chose the Women's REI Ridgeline 65. It is an internal frame pack that holds approximately 3,966 cubic inches. Plus, it is a totally adorable blue color! With a rain cover it should be perfect to haul my crap through Southeast Asia. I’m totally obsessing over this trip.

Now, I just need to hope that my brother saves his money so he can come... pray for me (and my trip). I’ve also asked my Dad to take me on a few short hikes this summer. Not only will it be a good way to test my bag out a little but I’m excited to spend some time with him and my step-mom before I head off for more than a year away. I’m sooo out of shape he is going to need to drag me up the hills. ^_^


A little sense of dread...

"Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of our essential loneliness; for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone." - Wendell Berry