When students at Sharpstown International learned of the April 20 earthquake in China’s Sichuan province, they were sparked to action. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake and its effects have claimed approximately 200 lives and injured thousands more, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.
“As soon as we heard the news about the earthquake, the students were very thoughtful in thinking, ‘We need to do something for the victims,’ said Thuy Le-Thai, principal of Sharpstown International School. “So the art teachers, the Chinese teachers and the homeroom teachers have been working hard with them to express our thoughts and our love, and to express our condolences.”
Posters drawn by students were displayed around the campus Wednesday. While campus administrators were originally expecting a visit from Houston-based Chinese media about the students’ messages of hope, they were later surprised to learn the visit would include China’s Deputy Consul General in Houston, Zhang Chaunbing.
After touring the school, he later sat and listened to a group of students express their condolences – in both English and Chinese – and let students explain their artwork and what their well-wishes meant.
One student, senior John Daffoe, drew a picture of a fist rising from the rubble and clutching a Chinese flag.
“People are buried under, and by buried under, it could mean mentally or physically, so this was the mental aspect,” Daffoe said. “This guy, he’s down, but he’s not going to let himself die. He’s going to rise up. So I want all the people in China to have that sense of mentality that we can go through this.”
Chaunbing, who said he grew up about 70 miles away from the epicenter of the earthquake in Lushan County, expressed special thanks from his hometown to the students for their kindness.
“I’m honored to be with you at this extraordinary event,” he said. “People from all over the world expressed their sympathy and condolences to China over the disaster in different ways.
“Among those caring efforts, I would say what you have done is truly special and it means a lot. Your beautiful voices of love and relief, and your comforting cards, will surely be delivered to China and to the people around the area… I would like to express my personal thanks to all of you, the beautiful and smart boys and girls.”
Some students said that while they know their sentiments were just words, they hoped they would be helpful, even if only for a minute.
“This event really affected millions of people,” said student Stephanie Diaz. “In events like these where lives are being lost, little things can make their day. We hope that our messages put a smile on their face and they know they’re not alone.”