On May 12, 2008 an extremely strong earthquake struck China, centering on Wenchuan county, Sichuan province. News of this major disaster and the extensive damages it wrought—over 80,000 people confirmed dead or listed as missing, and more than 370,000 people injured—were widely reported throughout the world.
The Tokyo Foundation has been providing scholarships to graduate students in 10 universities in China through the SYLFF Program since 1992 with the aim of nurturing leaders in a diversity of fields. In view of the gravity of the situation, the foundation called out to SYLFF fellows in China for proposals concerning aid activities for the victims.
Twelve proposals were submitted, and among them, the Tokyo Foundation selected two volunteer activities led by SYLFF fellows in Lanzhou University and Chongqing University, respectively. These groups were given financial support by the foundation, and activities were conducted in August. I flew to China to observe the operations of these two groups, and the following is my report from the field.