Back home, Sanda alum helps quake victims

By Oliver Joszt

For most students, summer signifies the beginning of summer jobs, vacations or, for the lucky few, a time to sleep. For Fiona Yu, it was a time to help her country, China, during its time of need.

A student at Sanda University in Shangai, Yu (whose Chinese name is Yu Fangfang) had come to Rider and completed a two-year study program in the College of Business Adminstration.
In May, a 7.8–8.0 magnitude earthquake devastated a region of small cities and towns set amid steep hills north of Sichuan’s provincial capital of Chengdu, China.

The quake claimed more than 30,000 lives, injured more than 200,000 and caused serious damage to buildings, bridges and other public facilities in an area of more than 39,000 sq. miles. Undisclosed numbers of people were trapped in mounds of concrete.

Yu looked for different ways to help her country after the earthquake, but the one asset that she found most valuable was the skill that she learned at Rider: accounting.

“I was in Shanghai,” Yu said. “This devastating earthquake happened at more than 20 provinces (like states in America), but the effect was different; our city was not affected so much.”

At first, Yu did not realize that the earthquake had struck China because she was working in an area that was not affected. But as soon as she got home she could not do anything without being flooded with images of the event.

“Once I got back to my house I heard [about] it everywhere and realized that there was an 8.0 magnitude earthquake,” she said. “Many pictures and images came from TV, newspaper and Web sites. Anywhere you looked the shocking moments of the earthquake were being recreated.”

Yu couldn’t believe what she saw. Every time she saw pictures of the aftermath on TV her “heart broke.” The shock of what had just happened was too overwhelming, but Yu also saw what all her fellow citizens were doing to help everyone affected.

“Chinese citizens, including soldiers, doctors and nurses did all that they could do by helping to transport any goods that those people needed to those devastated areas,” Yu said.
She knew that she couldn’t just sit around. Inspired by others who went to volunteer, Yu decided to take some action to help the victims.

“I went to a blood drive after the earthquake happened and was seeking some ways that I [could] help, like joining the Red Cross in Shanghai branch, making donations and putting a video online to let more people know about the events,” Yu said.

Yu could not go to places most affected by the earthquake because there weren’t enough food and resources available for volunteers to live nearby. Instead, she is using the skills that she learned at Rider by doing some accounting work for the China Red Cross whenever she has any free time, usually on the weekends, helping to count money and goods in the relief fund.
In addition, Yu realized that she could use the connections she made during her stay at Rider to add further assistance.

“On behalf of my organization, I wrote an e-mail to my friends in the U.S., and I got the warmest and fastest response from all my American friends, especially from the Rider community,” Yu said. “There was a fast response from Rider and I really appreciate all of the help on behalf of China’s Red Cross in Shanghai branch.”

Her affiliation with Rider garnered immense sympathy and support from the Rider community. Yu said that she quickly received responses from students, faculty and President Mordechai Rozanski.

“I got the news that the whole Rider community was in action to help our country’s people,” Yu said.

However, one thing stuck in her mind throughout the whole experience that made her see the importance of aiding one another.

“The most moving story I heard was of the many people who were in the center of the earthquake area and chose to save other people rather than go back home to save their families or relatives,” Yu said. “At that time, time is life.”

To donate to China Red Cross can visit the Web site at

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