When Weinberg senior Julie Shen realized the magnitude of the destruction caused by the recent earthquake in China, which had killed more than 50,000 people, she was horrified.
Shen’s home province of Guizhou borders Sichuan, where the earthquake hit. The news worried Shen until she called family and learned that her relatives had not been affected. Aftershock forecasts were reported to have raised panic in Guizhou, but the nearly 8.0-magnitude earthquake did not cause much damage in the province.
“It was a couple days after [hearing about the earthquake] when it really started to get to me, when more pictures of it started coming out,” Shen said. “The pictures of it were just really, really horrible.”
Shen didn’t just grimace at the photographs of victims. She didn’t just donate to current relief efforts, either: She started her own effort on campus.
Shen’s fundraising effort for the victims of the Chinese earthquake began Tuesday morning at the Arch. With the help of other students, she collected donations and passed out flyers with information on how to donate online and volunteer with their group.
Until Saturday, Shen had expected one of the Asian-interest student groups on campus to start fundraising.
“After a week, I just hadn’t heard anything,” Shen said. “So I decided to just get something started myself.”
Shen sent out numerous e-mails to friends and created a Facebook group for the fundraiser. She waited to see how many people would volunteer to help out.
“I was checking if people signed up, obsessively, and looking at pictures from the earthquake,” Shen said about her night before the fundraiser began. “After it started, my heart kind of calmed down because a lot of people have been showing up to help.”
Later, the Chinese Scholars and Students Association, the Chinese Students Association, the Hong Kong Students’ Association, and Northwestern University Singaporeans and Friends all lent support.
Christine Shiqi Chen, an international exchange student at Northwestern, joined Shen’s Facebook group and expressed her gratitude.
“I’m actually from Sichuan and my whole family is still there. I don’t know what I can say,” she wrote on the group’s wall. “Just want to thank you all for doing this and being so supportive.”
Volunteers will collect donations everyday until Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Arch, and possibly at other campus locations, such as Kellogg. The group plans to turn the funds over to Red Cross Hong Kong or Red Cross China.
Although there were not enough volunteers to cover all of the planned locations for donation collection, the group has already exceeded their initial goal of $1,000 by about $100, as of Wednesday evening. Shen also expects an increase in volunteer participation.
“In the beginning, I was just going to donate money and call it quits,” Shen said. “But after looking at the terrible images, I felt like I had to do something more.”