Today there was a three minute moment to remember the victims in the earthquake. I was walking to my office hour, and I saw some of my students standing under a tree. I asked them what they were doing, and they said they were preparing to remember the victims. Students were starting to gather in the center of our campus, in front of the flag that was raised half-mast. I asked my students if I could join them; they agreed. At 2:28, we stood up and faced the Chinese flag. I closed my eyes and said some words to the father; I glanced at my students… they were staring intently at the Chinese flag with a look of pride and sorrow in their eyes. Pride for a country that has come to the aid of its victims; sorrow at the loss of lives and the feeling of helplessness that has overwhelmed everyone.
During the office hours, in English corner, in between classes, students are talking about the earthquake. It’s necessary for them to have a place to talk about it and think of small ways they can help. So many of my Chinese friends have told me exactly how much money they have donated to the victims and have asked me if I have donated money yet.
The television is playing the same news updates on all the channels about the victims and the aid given to the people in Sichuan. One of my more outgoing friends has contacted the authorities to see if he can volunteer at the site. He said they are only accepting doctors at this point.
On a slightly unrelated note, yesterday and today, the power has been sporadically going off for a few hours. People here are clearly used to this inconvenience and seem to know exactly what to do when it happens. Shop owners and restaurant owners get out empty bottles and prop candles in them to illuminate their shops. Last night at a restaurant, the power went off, and it took them about 5 minutes to have candlelight on each table.