Ten kinesiology students at B.C.’s University of the Fraser Valley have decided to stay in an earthquake-torn region of China for the duration of their ten-week visit.Greg Anderson, kinesiology faculty head at the university in Abbotsford, B.C., said the students are firm about continuing their experience in China, despite the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that levelled large parts of Sichuan province and claimed more than 22,000 lives.
“Our students have expressed no desire to come home at this point, at all,” said Anderson. “In fact, they are fairly firm about wanting to stay and continue their experience there, in China. From an educational perspective, we send them overseas to learn about other cultures and ways to do things and group works and group dynamics and we have accomplished that in the first four days.”
Anderson said it appears the group will be able to remain through July at Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, although parts of the city were damaged in last Monday’s quake while thousands remain trapped or missing in surrounding communities. The total death toll is predicted to top more than 50,000.
“Now they are really looking at ways that they can be involved there. They have tried to donate blood, they’ve done a collection and went and got blankets made for the relief effort. They have donated clothing, that type of thing,” said Anderson. Classes at the university are due to resume May 19. “Their building is safe, they have food, water and shelter, the restaurants around them are open, they were able to use a bank machine, so life is starting in the city to try to scramble back to some resemblance of normality,” he said.
The students, all in their early to mid-20’s, are studying the philosophy of Chinese medicine, including Tai Chi movement, but they received an unexpected lesson instead. “You would have to think that living through the main earthquake and all the aftershocks and not being able to go in buildings, it really did enlighten them a lot about what humans do and how they respond,” Anderson noted. “They have seen that as a very valuable experience, even as traumatic as it was.”
-with a report from CP