Devastation hit parts of Asia this month with a cyclone in Myanmar (Burma) and a 7.9 earthquake rattling China 10 days later. One to two million people have been affected in Myanmar alone, and the death toll in China is expected to rise to 50,000. While Asia seems worlds away from life at UC Davis, students have rallied together to raise funds to aid cyclone and earthquake victims.
Instead of ignoring or being complacent about the situation abroad, the disaster in Asia has been met with empathy on campus. For instance, the Chinese Scholars and Students Fellowship in conjunction with other students have raised nearly $16,000 in relief aid for China. Also, the Chinese Student Association will be holding a benefit dance Friday, and more information can be found at ucdcsa.org. Relief efforts have less to do with the fact that Asian undergraduates comprise 41 percent of the population on campus and more to do with raising awareness about relief efforts across a diversity of backgrounds at UCD.
As for Cyclone Nargis victims in Myanmar, the hope of aid is more than grim. Myanmar’s military government lacks the willingness to accept much needed foreign aid or humanitarian efforts. As a result, it is nearly impossible to bring help to poorer and harder-hit regions of the country. Even with the knowledge that resources and supplies sit in Yangon, UCD students are not just standing idly by, but acting on that need. The Bahá‘í Club plans to hold a fundraiser meeting next week with time set aside for prayers from any religion and subsequent readings. In addition, several clubs, including the Asian American Association Film Festival, are asking members to donate to the cause.
In a day and age where political activism is lacking on college campuses, it is refreshing and hopeful to know students at UC Davis can still think about global issues outside their college bubble. Students have reached out to their neighbors in Myanmar and China and to other students with families or friends in Asia. UCD students and clubs have demonstrated that what’s important is not just the news that directly pertains to their everyday lives but concern for others in less fortunate situations. Moreover, students have shown they don’t need the university to shed light on the situation abroad but can take action into their own hands in discouraging times. UC Davis has shown its true colors this month, and its efforts are beyond laudable.
Aside from donating to clubs, students can donate directly to relief aids like Red Cross China at www.redcross.org.cn, Tzu Chi foundation at www.us.tzuchi.org/usa/home.nsf/photonews/k11802 or World Vision at worldvision.cn, which have their own personnel on the ground and may not necessarily have to go through governmental bodies to provide aid.XXX