Thursday, August 14, 2008

Qiang quake hero puts aside painful memories

Being an expert in Qiang ethnic minority dance, Wang Jiaming, a volunteer for the Beijing Games gave a simple but tragic reason for not being able to perform for Olympic spectators.

"My Qiang costume was buried in the earthquake," the 18-year-old said.

But working as a volunteer guide at the Sichuan section of the "China Story" exhibition, located near the Olympic Village, has given him some relief.

The exhibition comprises 30 "Lucky Cloud Cabin" tents, in which distinct cultural characteristics of the country's provinces and their inhabitants are on display.

Wang sees his voluntary work as a chance to show the world that although the Wenchuan earthquake destroyed two Qiang ethnic minority museums in Beichuan county and buried 400 relics, his native 3,000-year-old Qiang culture will always survive.

"As long as we exist, our culture will not disappear," he said.

The name Lucky Cloud Cabin is an appropriate coincidence, because as most Qiang people live on mountains in Sichuan of 2,000 m or so altitude, they are known as the "people who live in clouds", he said.

Being part of the Olympics gives Wang a temporary respite from recent painful memories.

He and his classmates used wooden staves and their bare hands to haul more than 20 students from the debris of a Beichuan middle school.

"It was the longest night in my life," Wang said.

"I still think of the many friends who were beyond rescue."

Wang, who will attend Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University this fall, is in two minds about meeting the athletes he most admires.

"I've been through sorrow and pain, but don't want this to affect them. I just hope they compete well and do their best."

Source: China Daily

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