Months after disaster group is still helping victims

While the typical college student may have taken a vacation, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association has been working through the summer to help raise funds for earthquake relief.

On May 12, a devastating earthquake struck the Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces of China. This 7.9-magnitude tremor left more than 70,000 dead, 18,000 missing and millions homeless.

The Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) in cooperation with the Austin Great Wall Chinese School, a non-profit organization, and several other local organizations, held the "Give Light to Rebuild Hope" event in Round Rock on July 12 to raise funds for earthquake victims. About 500 people attended the event.

"This event strengthened the bond between UT organizations and off-campus cultural organizations," said Wei Xie, CSSA president.

Similar events have taken place in Austin, including a vigil at the State Capitol for the victims of the disaster. There, Wuping Chen, principal of the Austin Great Wall Chinese School said, "[China] is my country. To see the people die, to see more and more people die, [I] just want to send help."

The CSSA also rallied together shortly after the earthquake struck to raise funds on the West Mall by hosting an earthquake relief donation stand. The association raised $800 during the two-day event. The group then turned its efforts towards the "Give Light to Rebuild Hope" event.

"The plan for earthquake relief efforts is to look for a good way to send the collected money back to China," Xie said. "One of our suggestions is to build up a primary school in the earthquake affected area using this money. We've already had someone in the disaster relief committee go back to China and investigate the possibility of this plan."

Several buildings toppled during the earthquake, including a large number of schools, which were in session when the temblor struck, killing at least 9,000 children.

Government officials estimate 130,000 army and paramilitary were sent to help in the rescue efforts for the survivors of the strongest earthquake to hit the country since the 1976 tremor that killed up to 300,000 people. Starting mid-July, the troops have moved their focus from recovery to reconstruction.

In a June 9 article published by The Daily Texan, Kun Zan, an engineering graduate student said, "We are Chinese people. No matter where we are from, we want to save our people. That's our responsibility."

Zan was personally affected by the earthquake. His family's apartment suffered structural damage nearly 150 miles from the epicenter. Zan has been volunteering with the CSSA in order to help out.

For more information on the CSSA and how to help victims of the earthquake go to