Activity essay

October 19, 2009
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On July 20th, 2008, Chengdu airport, a gray rainy day, the scenes along the road shocked me. The buildings and trees were razed to the ground. Miserable and despondent people wandered along the road. A subtle dirge can be heard in the quiet street. There was a smell of death in the air; the atmosphere was depressing.
On May 12th, 2008, a disastrous earthquake erupted in China, which caused 69,197 people to die and wounded another 374,176 people. When I heard this shocking news, I could not help worrying about Sichuan. I once travelled to Sichuan. I memorized the cloudless sky. I memorized the clear Min River. I memorized the happy sounds of talking people. Now everything was broken. The donation of money could not satisfy me – I wanted to provide my help directly and assume my social responsibility.

To my surprise, the camp was not as bad or as rough as I thought: many families lived in houses built with special plastic boards. I started my volunteer work with registering the information of the victims. When I was typing the information, I was shocked – almost every family lost some members. I felt depressed for the victims, especially for the children. How can they grow up happily? It made me want to help more for the victims. So I decided to work with the students of East China Normal University because one volunteer’s power was negligible, but with thousands of people we can do great service for the victims.
I easily melded into the team and became friends with the students; we had the same goal and willingness to help. We rented one of the board houses and decorated the room into a kindergarten. We were designated to a certain child – mine was Xinyue Hu – and tried to make them forget about their depression by telling stories, playing games and teaching English. After several days, when I was telling the Snow White story to Xinyue Hu, she interrupted me at the end and invited me to her house. I suddenly felt depressed and sympathetic toward her because nearly all the buildings in the city had been damaged. She didn’t notice the strangeness in my face; instead, she just kept talking, “I had two houses. One is here. The other is in the process of rebuilding. My family will move back soon.” When I heard this, I began to feel hope and confidence. The houses and buildings could be destroyed, but we would rebuild them even better.
Although one Chinese cliché states that, “Each one sweeps the snow from his own doorstep and doesn't bother about the frost on their neighbor’s roof,” we held together and made a donation of nearly 76.7 billion RMB when we were challenged by the natural disaster. Many volunteers from different provinces and jobs flocked into Sichuan for help. Some people even moved their entire families to Sichuan.
The experience gave me a chance to assume social responsibility but also to contribute to the rebuilding of Sichuan, also a mental inspiration. By telling stories, playing games and teaching English to the children, I gained a true happiness. We were like a big family and treated the children as our brothers and sisters. I miss them all and would definitely return. It also made me believe the individual’s power is little when faced with huge disasters and problems; only through cooperation and teamwork can we change the situation and succeed.
By the way, the camp’s name was Happy Family.





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