Concert pays respects to victims of China’s earthquake

By Renee Chacko

For Yuan Zhou, raising money is not the only important component of earthquake relief efforts in China. Zhou, a University doctoral voice student, organized a benefit concert Wednesday night at the Wesley United Methodist Church and Foundation to pay respect to victims of last week’s earthquake in the Sichuan Province of China and their families. Zhou, as well as other student volunteers from the Chinese community, hope to not only raise relief funds but awareness and sympathy for the victims as well.

“I would like for people to just bring their hearts,” Zhou said. “After listening to the music and seeing the displays, they can decide for themselves if they want to donate.”

Offering a message of unity and compassion, opening comments from Dr. Howard White, senior pastor of Wesley United, reminded those gathered that the Earth could not shake in China without being felt all over the world. Zhou, a member of the church, wanted to bring out the compassion of the Champaign-Urbana community by providing music and information about last week’s earthquake. She said she hopes the event will inspire long-lasting support from members of the community.

“One of our main goals for the concert is to gain the attention of our friends and neighbors in Champaign about how beautiful the Sichuan Province is,” Zhou said. “We want our friends and neighbors to know that we need their lasting support.”

A display of photos reminded attendees that the area – where the death toll stood at 40,075 as of Wednesday night – was once a home of abundance and natural beauty. Vocal, cello and piano performances were also presented by other University students, each who volunteered to perform for free in support of the cause.

“I called my friends to help me put on the concert and I was very touched that all of them generously agreed to help,” Zhou said.

Zhou also hopes that the event will bring out more people in Champaign-Urbana who are more willing to help with relief efforts. Members of the Chinese community at the University came to show their support and reflect on recent events. Students like Di Yun, graduate student in Engineering, volunteered their time to support the efforts of the Chinese community.

“We wanted to help the Chinese community in anyway we can,” said Yun, who is also an officer and member of Overseas China Education Foundation and Chinese Student and Scholars Association. “The moment of silence really helps to reflect on the beauty of the province.”

All donations that were collected at the event will be given to the American Red Cross for earthquake relief efforts in China.