March 30, 2015 14:12 UTC

As It Is

Marking China’s Wenchuan Earthquake

Rescuers search for victims in the debris of a hospital after the earthquake in the southwestern province of Sichuan, China, on May 12, 2008.
Rescuers search for victims in the debris of a hospital after the earthquake in the southwestern province of Sichuan, China, on May 12, 2008.

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story

Welcome to As It Is, the daily magazine from VOA Learning English.
 
I’m Mario Ritter. Today, we look back five years to a disastrous earthquake in southwest China.
 
“The wall behind us ripped open, and we all started at it, terrified. But before I could react, the ground split open…”
 
Today, we also hear about human rights conditions in China, including news about the family of rights activist Chen Guangcheng. And at the end of our show, we tell about an American high school that gives students real-life experience.  
 
Monday marked the fifth anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake in China. The earthquake killed tens of thousands of people. Hundreds of thousands of buildings were seriously damaged or destroyed.
VOA correspondent Bill Ide spoke to survivors who are still struggling with the effects of the earthquake.  Faith Lapidus has his report.
 
The Wenchuan earthquake became one of the most destructive disasters in recent memory when it struck Sichuan province in southern China. The quake was centered in Wenchuan County. Scientists say it had a magnitude, or strength, of eight-point-zero.

Nearly 90,000 people were killed in the quake. Many government-built structures collapsed. Collapsed schools killed more than 6,500 students and teachers. There was, and still is, public anger at officials for the building failures and loss of life that resulted.

Wei Ling was in chemistry class when the Wenchuan earthquake struck.
“At first, I thought my teacher was calling me. And then the entire room began to shake. Even the television was shaking. The wall behind us ripped open, and we all started at it, terrified. But before I could react, the ground split open, and I fell down and couldn’t feel anything.”
 
People in the affected areas have been attempting to rebuild. Many have taken out bank loans to add to the reconstruction money provided by the government to ensure that their homes are safe.

But experts say more needs to be done. Long Enshen is with Sichuan University’s Institute of Disaster Management and Reconstruction.
“I think that awareness of anti-seismic construction and disaster prevention is now what is most lacking. And I believe that we need to strengthen every day action by the government and by non-government organizations to help with these matters.”
 
I’m Faith Lapidus.

China Rights Update
 
Earlier this year, we told you about the Chinese rights activist Chen Guangcheng. He received the Lantos Human Rights Prize in January.
Chen Guangcheng made news around the world last year after he escaped house arrest and fled to the United States Embassy in Beijing. He gained attention for his work as a human rights lawyer.  Mr. Chen -- who is blind -- now lives with his family in the United States.

Blind activist Chen Guangcheng speaks with his wife Yuan Weijing and children as U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke.Blind activist Chen Guangcheng speaks with his wife Yuan Weijing and children as U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke.
x
Blind activist Chen Guangcheng speaks with his wife Yuan Weijing and children as U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke.
Blind activist Chen Guangcheng speaks with his wife Yuan Weijing and children as U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke.
Now, his brother Chen Guangfu says he was beaten by people acting for the government. It is the most recent case of suspected revenge against the rights activist's family.

Chen Guangfu says two unidentified men jumped out of a car and beat him for several minutes as he returned home in the eastern province of Shandong recently. The 56-year-old says he was not seriously injured in the attack.

Also, there appear to be new signs that China is intensifying its campaign against people calling for more openness by the government.
Liu Ping led a campaign pushing for government officials to publicly state their financial holdings. His lawyer says the activist was detained last month on suspicion of "inciting subversion."

No public statement has been made on the subversion charges. But it is an accusation often made against government critics.

Also, police in Beijing have reportedly detained 10 other anti-corruption activists. A lawyer for some of those detained told the French news agency that police charged the activists with "unlawful assembly." The people arrested showed a large sign calling for greater openness by the government.
 
A School That Offers Real-life Experience
 
High school students have different needs. Some plan to study medicine, law or engineering. They go to college to get a degree. But some students want to study things like cooking, building, repairing cars, or other specialized skills. Young people may have different goals in life.

VOA visited a high school in Maryland, near Washington DC, that enables student to get real-life experience.   Christopher Cruise has the story.
 
Thomas Edison High School of Technology offers specialized classes that help get students started on a career. It is a place where students gain experience so they can decide whether to continue in a career or not.

Matthew Wimmer likes to cook.  He has two great cooks in his family: his mother and grandmother. The experience of members of his family has influenced him.
“It’s sort of inspired me to become a better cook or a better chef overall.”

At school, he experiences what it is like to work in a professional kitchen.
“New ideas and new different ways to do things.”
Today, students in the Restaurant Management Program at this high school are preparing salads.

Teresa Smith is a chef and teacher in the Restaurant Management Program. On a day when students are preparing salads, she encourages them to experiment with different ingredients. She also wants her students to have good basic skills in the kitchen.

“We try to do as much as we can from scratch.  I also want them to have good basic skills including kitchen math, converting recipes from smaller quantities to larger quantities. I want them to have good knife skills.  We also stress safety and sanitation.”
 
Students take buses from other high schools in the area to attend the programs at Thomas Edison High School.  Karen Wilson is the school's spokesperson.
“We have 18 different programs.”

One gives students the skills they need to pass the Certified Nursing Assistant exam. The Auto Body Program teaches students to repair cars. And in cosmetology, Karen Wilson says students learn about hair and skin care but also much more.

“The students learn about chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and work with real-life clients.”

One student who finished preparing a salad in the school’s kitchen talked about the processes that take place in the class. He says student taste each other’s dishes and provide feedback.

“You can learn different things about what you should have done differently.”
At Thomas Edison High School of Technology, the idea is to provide students with the experience they need to reach their goals.
I’m Christopher Cruise.
 
Thank you for listening today. Join us at the top of the hour, Universal Time, for the latest news.


This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Audio Chinese Development Bank Gains Members

    The Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, proposed by China, is aimed at financing infrastructure projects in Asian countries. The United States has voiced concerns about how the bank might affect organizations such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. But some U.S. allies have joined. More

  • Fashion District New York City

    Video 'Made in New York' Incentives for Fashion Designers

    The Made in New York program provides help to factories that invest in technology and workforce development. To date, New York City has approved more than one million dollars to eligible factories. More

  • Fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls before infrared imaging, right, and after, left, are seen.

    Video Dead Sea Scrolls Still Have Lessons to Teach

    A California museum is now showing the largest exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls ever seen outside of Israel. There are 20 Dead Sea Scrolls and many other royal and ritual objects on display in the exhibit. Modern science is revealing hidden texts and the exact age of the scrolls. More

  • 顾客在香港一家书店翻看与中国大陆有关的书籍。(2012年6月1日资料照)

    Audio Book Publishers Warn of Censorship in Hong Kong

    Publishers and authors are warning that censorship is increasing in Hong Kong. They say bookstores are returning books connected to authors who have been involved in the recent pro-democracy protests. Bookstores are under pressure to not carry books that may offend China's central government. More

  • Video Could Drones Help Save Rhinos in South Africa?

    Searching for illegal hunting is best done from above. But piloted flights are costly. Now, some college students have made a drone to look for poachers. It is low cost and can observe more places than other aircraft. South African officials may find drones a good tool in animal protection efforts. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio New Treatment for AIDS Called a ‘Big Deal’

    Read on to learn words like mutate, neutralize and antiretroviral as you learn how researchers have found a way to trick HIV, the virus causing AIDS, into killing itself. The difficulty level might be high as this article describes what happens when a genetically modified cell becomes an HIV killer. More

  • Video Angelina Jolie Has Second Surgery to Prevent Cancer

    The 39-year-old actress published a piece in The New York Times about her decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to protect herself from cancer. She had a double mastectomy two years ago for the same reason. The latest surgery leaves the mother of six unable to have more children. More

  • Space Rocket to Launch Weather Satellite Into Deep Space

    Video Satellite Will Watch Sun Storms, Send Warnings to Earth

    Strong storms on the sun can cause problems for satellites, radio communications and even airplane travel. A satellite is now traveling 1.5 million kilometers to enter the sun’s orbit, just in time to observe the extreme weather on the sun at its most violent time the sun’s 11-year cycle. More

  • An employee plays the game Flappy Bird at a smartphone store in Hanoi, Feb. 10, 2014.

    Audio Too Much Gaming is a Pain in the Neck

    Smartphones and other electronic devices, or gadgets, are becoming more affordable. Children in India are using them more and more. Doctors say children who spend long hours playing video games are increasingly showing signs of physical deformities, meaning their bodies are not growing properly. More

  • Video Secrets of a Saddle-Maker

    People began riding horses thousands of years ago. Saddles for horseback riding were invented soon after. Today, many companies manufacture saddles. But it is rare to find someone who designs and makes these products by hand. American Keith Valley is one of the few. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs