Memorial held for one-year anniversary of Yingying Zhang’s disappearance


The Daily Illini File Photo

At the memorial Jiheng Jing, vice president of the Chinese Student and Scholars Association, announced plans to build a small garden at the bus stop at corner of Goodwin Avenue and Clark Street where Yingying Zhang went missing.

By Howard Yun, Staff Writer

A year ago, Yingying Zhang, a visiting scholar at the University from China, disappeared. On the anniversary of her disappearance, members of the Champaign-Urbana community gathered in the Illini Union to hold a memorial service.

“We provide this memorial service so that everyone knows that the UI community, the local residents, the Chinese students and scholars, everyone who cares about Yingying, will never forget her and we will always pray for her,” said Jiheng Jing, vice president of the Chinese Student and Scholars Association and the host for this memorial.

In memory of Zhang, a small garden will be built at the site of her disappearance, Jing said.

Martin McFarlene, director of International Student and Scholar Services and Matt Myrick, interim director of the University of Illinois Police Department, respectively gave short speeches about the grief they shared with Zhang’s family.

“All of us at the University of Illinois continue to feel sorrow for the loss of Yingying,” McFarlene said.

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Myrick said it’s the tragedy of her situation that collectively binds all of the community together.

“Yingying’s family is now, forever, part of the University of Illinois family,” Myrick said.

Despite the efforts of investigation by the police and volunteers of past one year, Zhang has not been found and is presumed dead.

Zach Berker is a volunteer who has assisted Yingying’s investigation for a year.

“As the family told (me) more and more about her, how she wanted to go back to China and be a teacher, she had such a promising future … and for someone like that, you do everything in your power to find her. Some feeling drives me to do this. She needs to be found,” Berker said.

Jing ended the ceremony by talking about the community’s dedication to Zhang.

“Today the memorial service has come to an end, but our heart will always be with Yingying,” Jing said.

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