Quake offers lessons in rebuilding lives

Updated: 2013-04-26 07:50

By Tang Yue (China Daily)

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More bitterness

It was 2:11 pm and the teacher was explaining about friction. "An earthquake's coming!" shouted a boy sitting in the back row. A few of the girls started to scream. Two boys had already stood up and were ready to run toward the door.

The tremor didn't last long, only two or three seconds. As the aftershock passed, the teacher and some of the students murmured "Calm down, calm down" in an attempt to comfort the others, and maybe also themselves.

The teacher, Bi Qiang, in his 40s, decided to check the condition of the class next door. As Bi walked out of the room, a girl shouted loudly, "Teacher, don't run away!"

Quake offers lessons in rebuilding lives

Students from Tianquan High School unpack at Chengdu Normal College after relocating to prepare for the upcoming national college entrance exam in June. Wang Ruobing / for China Daily

The class burst into laughter and the lesson resumed a few minutes later.

"We might seem fine, but I know everyone was frightened," 18-year-old student Li Zengyu told me later. "Some boys in my class used to be very naughty, but they just stayed silent today."

The resumption of classes came as bittersweet news to Li. She was desperate to study for the exam, but couldn't help be concerned about aftershocks.

"The building might be safe, but it is so terrible when it shakes. We tried to concentrate but it was really hard," she said.

Meanwhile, the behavior of some of her peers has caused her almost as much distress as the quake.

"After the earthquake, we bought some food, enough for everyone, but some of our classmates just rushed in and took it without any concern for the others. That really got me down," said Li, on the verge of tears.

"But my best friend didn't forget me when the earthquake happened. She called me to tell me to hide under the table, it was so touching. Also, many volunteers have traveled a long way to come to help us. That's also really touching," said the girl, who has volunteered to help out in the kitchen in the past few days.

Meanwhile, student Wu Xiaolong, 19, said a number of young people occupied the first batch of tents put up right after the earthquake, despite the fact that they were intended for the sick and the elderly.

He also said the school hadn't been able to provide accommodation for its boarding students in the first two days after the quake.