Quake offers lessons in rebuilding lives

Updated: 2013-04-26 07:50

By Tang Yue (China Daily)

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Father Yang Mingjun had stern words for his son: "Behave yourself in Chengdu and concentrate on your studies. People will know that you are from the earthquake zone, so don't let Baoxing down."

Yang Xin said that coming from a humble background and surviving the earthquake has given him extra motivation to study hard for the exam. "It might not be the only choice, but for me. I think it is the best option," said the young man, who wants to be a journalist.

"Compared with those who lost their lives, I'm really lucky to still have the chance to fight for a better life. I will treasure it. Also, my parents are working really hard to pay my tuition fees; I have no reason to be lazy in the last few moments before the gaokao."

Dreams of travel

While the students were busy calling their parents to pass on the news, Wu Xiaolong was busy distributing Math Weekly, a homework exercise book, to the class.

He has been Class 3's monitor for three years and sounded like a born leader when he spoke of the earthquake and his hometown.

"The earthquake was brutal and claimed many lives. No one wanted it to happen, of course, but to tell the truth, I think it will help develop the local economy," he told me one evening as we sat in the stand of the football stadium.

"Just look at Wenchuan. The government has poured in a lot of money and tourism is booming."

Asked about his college plans, Wu said he wants to study computer programming, even though he doesn't have a computer and his home is so isolated there is no Internet access.

"I want to have my own business one day and I want to be rich because I want to travel so much," he said.

"I want to go to Japan and I also want to go to Europe to experience the luxury and leisurely lifestyle," said the 18 year old, who has never been outside Sichuan.

Quake offers lessons in rebuilding lives 

Li Zengyu, however, had no interest in the economy. "I care more about justice. I want to study law at university, if I can make it," said the diminutive young woman.

She wants to stay in the city after graduating from college, "not only because the outside world is more colorful, but also because the people are more civilized".

But she has concerns for her family. "My parents wouldn't get used to life in the city and I don't want to be away from them. Maybe in a few years Baoxing will be more developed and I will find a job here."

No exit

The students were scheduled to leave Baoxing at 8 am on Thursday, but a large number of them gathered at the school gate half an hour ahead of the appointed time.

However, the bus was late, causing some consternation. "Students facing the gaokao really can't afford to wait," murmured one girl.

But they did have to wait, so some stretched out on the grass, alongside their bags of books and clothing.

Meanwhile, the headmaster and officials from the education bureau were busy making phone calls.

Some time later, the students were told the road was still too dangerous for them to travel to Chengdu. The move had been abandoned and so they would stay in Baoxing to prepare for the all-important exam.

"I don't know what to say," said Wu on hearing the news. "Some students are happy and some are sad. Anyway, I suppose we can only do what we're told."

Wu Wencong and Peng Yining contributed to the story.


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