Under the Epidemic, We Witnessed the Power of a United WorldIssue date：2020-02-19
To support the battle against the epidemic, many UWCers are taking actions to do their bit. Whether they are present students or alumni of UWCs in different parts of the world, or parents or families of UWC students, they are all making an impact and uniting community members and kind hearted local people from America, Europe, and Asia to join hands to show their support, love and care to people in Wuhan, Hubei and all of China.
Following is one of the stories about the journey of UOVC, a Project initiated by a team of Chinese students in different UWCs, to raise fund and source medical supplies for Hubei. Though what they could do is limited, they are showing the power of unity, they are living UWC values and most of all they have "a heart of love".
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."-- Mahatma Gandhi
To us, UWC value is more of an instinct than a slogan. It is the empathy and compassion that link us with our inseparable motherland; it is also an initiative to act.
UOVC initiative started when team members learned about the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic. Many of us from UWCs across the globe instinctively thought: "We should do something. We can do something." Therefore we united.
Eswatini, Norway, Singapore, Canada, Costa Rica, China... Distance is no barrier to love.
Even under the heavy workload, no one dropped out, and new blood kept flowing in. An idea hangs in everyone's mind: "I could do more." Calls after calls, files after files. Beginning with only ten people, the group grew like flowers blooming in the dark spring, silently but firmly.
Initiative: Kindness that Sparks in Our Minds
Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, as UWC students, we felt the responsibility to take actions and be change makers. As Chinese students, we felt the urge to act and help our people to go through this tough period of time.
UOVC fundraising team closely monitored the situation every day. We paid close attention to the difficulties that residents and medical staff in Hubei encountered. Given the shortage of masks for medical staff in the frontlines, we quickly divided UOVC into three sub-groups: logistics, funding, and publicity. We decided to reach out to the UWC alumni network across the globe to raise money and find medical supplies needed for doctors and nurses in Hubei. Team members worked tirelessly day and night. "I can't even recognize the word 'mask' now..." said Kexin Zhao, from UWC Costa Rica, at 1 a.m. after hours of searching for suppliers.
Abel Yan, the founder of the initiative stayed up late looking at possible supplies and communicating on transportation matters and finally succeeded in sourcing masks from Argentina.
Indeed, there's much more to be done, and we are determined to keep on with hope in mind despite of the challenges .
Action: Uniting the World, Uniting the Kind Hearted
"Learning by doing" is the motto of UWC Changshu China. Putting thoughts into action and creating impactful changes are the essence of UWC education.
Emma Dai, from UWC RCN, is responsible for the promotion of our initiative in China and overseas. She coordinated with representatives from each campus and launched the GoFundMe campaign which aims to raise fund through the strong UWC alumni network inside and outside of China. The seven-hour time difference between Norway and China made her morning extremely busy: she had to read over thousands of messages in the group while balancing school work and the fundraising. "Tired, but fulfilling," said Emma.
Walden He from UWC Changshu China is responsible for public relations and legal affairs. Researching on the compliance of the products, ensuring all the relevant documents are complete, negotiating with other non-profit organizations, and answering various questions in the Q&A group chat have become his routine.
Aurora Wang from Waterford Kamhlaba UWCSA is responsible for reaching out to organizations or companies that are willing to collaborate and donate. In the process, she networked with hundreds of people. Eswatini has a six-hour time difference with China: when her school ends at 4 pm, those in China she needs to connect with are already in their dreams. Thus, to answer their questions promptly, Aurora had to get up at 4 am, communicating through the internet and trying to raise as much as possible.
As we are doing non-profit work, it's very important to make sure to keep our finance open and transparent. Chris Liu acts as the "CFO" who updates the financial statement every day in the Q&A group chat for donors. When new tasks came up, she often said: "I could do it if others are busy!" Out of passion and a sense of responsibility, she also helped with transportation, as well as checking the compliance of the products.
Studying in UWC Costa Rica, Kerou Hu utilized local contacts and expanded our search for products to the entire Latin America. "I sent emails to the 3M distributors in all Spanish-speaking countries. Hopefully, they would respond." She also used the UWC alumni network in Latin America by coordinating with Colombia National Committee, which successfully solved transportation issues and payment difficulties. "I exhausted all the Spanish I have learnt in my life." Kerou joked.
Cheryl Hu, an alumna of UWC Changshu China and UWC AC (UK), took over the heavy-duty of finding supplies. From USA to Norway, from Greece to Montenegro, she searched and contacted with suppliers all over the world. Now, she is an expert in checking qualifications for masks and protective suits for medical use, therefore she is deemed by the core members as "the Supply Pro".
The many calls made, the many articles wrote, and the many reminders of incoming messages in the early hours of the day, all made us grow from strength to strength during this special period in history.
We are not outsiders. We devoted ourselves, silently and courageously, into the effort to support the fight against the unexpected epidemic.
Now, the 480 masks we bought from the U.S. are on their way to Wuhan, along with the medical supplies donated by Peking University Alumni Association. 3600 masks (Honeywell H801 and Gerson 2130) and 50 protective suits from Argentina are also being delivered. Besides, we are currently planning to purchase 100 protective suits (3M 4565) from Greece which we have ordered. We are also working with UC Berkeley Chinese Students and Scholars Association to join our efforts.
We knew at the very beginning that we would encounter difficulties, such as the time difference across the globe and balancing our time between the volunteer work and school work that piled up. However, in the process, we found it was far more challenging than what we thought. When reaching out to suppliers and cooperating with organizations, we have seen imposters who held fake documents and pretended to be non-profit organizations. We have also met suppliers intentionally raising the prices after knowing our objectives. Transportation had always been an obstacle, as well as checking the sources and the stock of supply. "Many companies couldn't respond to us promptly. Some websites do not update their stock every day, which resulted in inaccurate information for us." said Xingyi Zhang.
We were caugth up in dilemmas, too. We've received requests from hospitals all over China, for the shortage of medical supply is nation-wide, among which many came from hometowns of our core members. Every message was a sword stabbing into our hearts. Nevertheless, to keep our promises to the hospitals we reached out in Hubei, we had to say no to those hospitals. " I felt extremely sorry when refusing them, "said Katherine Xu, who is responsible for contacting hospitals.
Luckily, we are not alone. Many people gave us their support. Many UWC teachers and students from all over the world are willing to make videos for us, translate for us, and communicate with the transportation companies in their countries. When we heard "stay strong," "my heart is with China," from them, we could harldy hold our tears.
Ms. Chen Tangqiu(pseudonym), Chang Ju, UCB Chinese Student, and Scholars Association, Mr. Wu Jianlin, and the Chinese compatriots from Argentina: you enlightened our way- only with your help and kind support can we go this far in the dark night.
Working together for the same goal and seeing the same smile in faces of different colors, we are proud to be UWCers.
Postscript: Following our hearts
Until now, our work is still questioned by many. Some say that we are merely seeking fame and fortune, for making our college applications look better. Others say that we are just messing up the entire situation. However, we just follow our heart and forge ahead. This is what the power of UWC education means. We are individuals with a kind heart who care about the society and the world. We take actions to make a difference. We take responsibilities and bear our missin in mind - for a united, peaceful, and sustainable future.
We miss the mirror-like lake in Changshu a thousand miles away from us, where gentle winds blow, and snow-white clouds linger. It was the start of our UWC journey, and it is where we begin to step on the world stage, it is where we look forward to the future with hope.