Vigil to be held for earthquake victims

The Chinese Student Association (CSA) and Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) of the UW will hold a candlelight vigil tonight to mourn those who died in the destructive earthquake in the Sichuan province of China.

The vigil will also raise funds for survivors. It will be held from 8:30 — 10:30 p.m. in the Quad.

“We’ll be collecting donations and selling the candles from the vigil,” said Ruolan Liu, CSA’s internal vice president.

While Liu had a central role in planning the event, her effort was motivated more by personal interest in the cause than her responsibility as vice president.

Liu is originally from the city of Chengdu, which is just 55 miles from the epicenter. She still has family in the region.

“As you can understand, the earthquake only happened last Monday,” Liu said. “We haven’t had a lot of time to prepare for the event, but so many of us have a connection to China. … We would like to do what we can and do as much as possible.”

At the event, two professors from Sichuan University will speak about the earthquake. Both were in Chengdu at the time of the quake.

Additionally, UW anthropology professor Steve Harrell will give background information about the UW Combined Fund Drive for earthquake relief, where donations collected at the vigil will be directed. The fund will pool collections from other Washington and Oregon schools as well as businesses in the area.

Finally, Zheng Songmao, a UW graduate student in pharmacy, will speak about dealing with the disaster.

To supplement the speeches, CSA and CSSA have asked the Seattle Symphony’s Odeon Quartet to perform several pieces.

Liu and others involved with planning the event hope those present can learn, grieve and find some comfort at the vigil.

“We will have pictures of the earthquake as well as stories of miraculous rescues,” Liu said.

In China, similar memorials and relief efforts are being carried out across the country.  Yesterday, the Chinese State Council declared a three-day period of national mourning, during which the public will observe a three-minute moment of silence. The Olympic torch relay will be delayed for three days.

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