Three UIC faculty members and nine alumni went to Wenchuan County, Sichuan from 10 to 13 May to revisit the site that was hit by a devastating earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale ten years ago.

This trip was organized by Chief Student Affairs Officer and Social Work and Social Administration (SWSA) Professor, Prof Johnston Wong, SWSA Instructor, Ms Sabrina Wang and International Journalism (IJ) Associate Professor, Dr Edgar Yuen. Accompanying them were nine UIC alumni members, who joined for the three-day return visit to Wenchuan County where they provided disaster relief in Shuimo Town and Sanjiang Town ten years ago. This time they revisited Shuimo, Yingxiu and Dujiangyan to see the changes ten years after their recovery efforts.

Photo1The group gathers to look at old photos together

“The reunion with students who we taught in the summer of 2008 was one of the most impressive moments of this visit,” said Che Na, a former Public Relations and Advertising (PRA) student who is now running her own business with her fiancé, a UIC alumnus as well. Seven students came to the reunion. They were students from third to sixth grade when the earthquake destroyed their homes and have now become young adults who either study in university or work in different trades.

Wang Jingfeng, who has received supports from UIC and now works for construction projects in Shuimo, mentioned that the three week visit in 2008 was unforgettable. Having classes and playing games together was great psychological support which showed that they were not alone in facing hard times. This left a deep impression on him and he still feels thankful for those days.

Photo2Yuan Min, the principal of Wenchuan Bayi Primary School, shares her thoughts

The Principal of Bayi Primary School, Yuan Min, also showed appreciation to UIC staff and alumni for coming back to Wenchuan. The reunion was held in the meeting room of Bayi Primary School on the afternoon of 11 May with the help of social workers from Wenchuan Qichuang Social Service Center. They recalled the memories by looking at photos and chatting together.

Photo3The party secretary of Shuimo Town (second from the right) and social workers from Wenchuan Qichuang Social Service Center show UIC visitors around

During their reunion, the UIC visiting group was shown around the ancient city of Shuimo, which was a wasteland ten years ago that has now become a bustling commercial area. They were also shown around by a retired teacher from Yingxiu Primary School, Qing Lanchun, who took them to see Yingxiu Town, stopping to visit Relics of Xuankou Secondary School, Yingxiu Bay Park and Wenchuan Earthquake Victims Cemetery. On the last day of the visit, the group went to Youai School in Dujiangyan to meet five students who became disabled by the earthquake.

Yang Rui, a former SWSA student, currently working as a student counselor at Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, was one of the students who provided help ten years ago, and returned for this visit. She said she was concerned about the situation of local people when the earthquake happened, so she signed up to volunteer without hesitation ten years ago.

Photo4The group poses for a photo with local students and members from the Wenchuan Qichuang Social Service Center

“I considered whether to revisit Wenchuan as being here before left a deep impression on me, and I think I made the right choice because this return visit has been very meaningful,” said Yang. Yang also showed appreciation for Prof Wong, Dr Yuen and Ms Wang for organizing this visit.

After the Wenchuan earthquake happened, UIC staff and students raised RMB 101,348.45 to help the cause on 16 May, 2008. From June to July of 2008, UIC organized for more than 230 teachers and students to volunteer to help at the site of the earthquake. They helped rebuild prefabricated houses, provided post-traumatic psychological counseling to the survivors by doing home visits, and gave lectures to students from primary to middle schools.

Reporter/Photographer: Zhong Qing (Y4, IJ)
Editor: Samantha Burns