Students Raise Thousands for China

Many gather from throughout University to mourn earthquake victims

Unnamed photo
Xinran Yuan

A candlelight vigil was held on steps of the Memorial Church in memory of people who died in the earthquake in southwest China. Candles arranged in a heart expressed people’s sorrow for the dead and hope for relief.


Tea lights, arranged in the shape of a heart on the steps of Memorial Church, flickered in the wind Sunday evening as a memorial to the devastation caused by the earthquake that rocked the Sichuan province of China last week.

Over 100 people—including members of Chinese student groups from the Medical School, the School of Public Health, the Business School, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Law School—packed the steps of Memorial Church to commemorate the devastation and raise money to help the victims.

“It’s good to see that the whole Chinese and international communities have come together to help those that have had their lives destroyed by this calamity,” said Zhongrui Yin ’11, a native of China who participated in the vigil. On May 12, an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter Scale hit southwest China. Currently, 34,073 people have been confirmed dead, though the Chinese government estimates that the figure could reach 50,000 deaths.

The event began with a service in Memorial Church, which included the performance of songs in both English and Chinese. The songs were followed by a few words by Gang Li, the president of the Massachusetts General Hospital Chinese Students and Scholars Association (MGH CSSA), who helped organize the event. Yue Tan D. Tang, a Ph.D. student in Economics, and School of Public Health professor Jennifer Leaning then spoke about the disaster and China’s response. [SEE CORRECTION]

After the service, people picked up candles at the doors of the church and slowly trickled out onto the steps, where organizers helped place the candles in the shape of a heart.

During the event, donations were collected for the Red Cross of China. According to MGH postdoctoral fellow Winnie W.C. Shum, who managed the finances for the event, the event raised $31,768. Shum, who is also the treasurer of MGH CSSA, said that organizers are trying to solicit matching donations from companies.

“The fact that they were able to pull off raising that much money was great, especially since there were so many students there,” said Lin Gao ’10, co-president of the Harvard-Radcliffe Chinese Student Association (CSA) and a native of the Sichuan province.

Yinan Zhu ’11, the educational and political chair of the CSA, said that the event was organized quickly in response to the devastation.

“We got a lot of administrative help from the College,” Zhu said. “Given the nature of the event, a lot of bureaucracy was waved.”

—Staff writer Lauren D. Kiel can be reached at


The May 19 story, "Students Raise Thousands for China," misstated the name of an organization led by one of the event organizers. It is the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at Harvard Medical School, not the Massachusetts General Hospital Chinese Students and Scholars Association.