Chinese students bike the US

Updated: 2014-06-06 22:57

By Elizabeth Wu in New York (China Daily USA)

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Chinese students bike the US

Xueqiao Ma (fourth from left), Weiyi Chen (fourth from right), Yeming Chen (third from right), and Jiangyang Zhang (right) from One Way are members of a team biking across America this summer to raise awareness and money to provide lunches for children in undeveloped areas of China. Provided to China Daily

A team of Chinese graduate students studying in the United States will bike across the country for a charity campaign known as DanXingDao, or One Way, to raise funds to provide lunches for hungry children living in under-developed areas of China.

The seven students will start their ride Saturday on a trip that will span two months, cover 3,800 miles, and cross 11 states from San Francisco to Washington. The students will travel an average of 60-70 miles per day; they will have a support vehicle following them.

Launched in May, One Way is partnering with Free Lunch for Children, a Chinese charity program in China that has raised more than $11.4 million. Because of this organization, more than 77,000 children from 350 schools in impoverished areas no longer suffer from hunger.

Top Circle, one of the largest hosiery companies in the US, will donate 10,000 lunches once the One Way Facebook page reaches 10,000 likes. Anyone can "like" their Facebook page, post photos on the Chinese Twitter Weibo of anything related to China with the theme "I discovered China in the world."

"For instance if you happen to be in Italy or South America and see a Chinese restaurant take a picture." said Jiangyang Zhang, 27, a Chinese student who heads One Way. "Our social media initiative is all about discovering China in the world," he said.

Top Circle is also partly funding One Way's transportation fuel costs.

One Way is in talks for Chinese and American companies to fund their initiative. "Our organization hopes to collaborate with companies and students across the world to raise funds." said Zhang. "I don't want our charity organization to be based on basic donations like many charities, but have a social element to it, so that others will be interested in participating across America."

In addition to Zhang, the students on the team who will be biking are Weiyi Chen, and Yuchi Che from the University of Southern California; Lili Yao from the University of British Columbia; Linda Sheng of Stanford University; Yu Wang of the University of Virginia; and Tao Liu from North Carolina State University.

Zhang's background includes volunteering with the Melton Foundation in rural China. That inspired him to combine his dream of biking across America with helping children in those areas of China. "When I was younger I became a member of an international foundation and we traveled internationally. Our local focus in China was to volunteer in rural areas," said Zhang. "I grew up in cities and what I saw in the rural parts of China was very different from what I had seen in newspapers. It was very shocking."

In many rural areas in China, children live more than five miles away from school and do not have anything to eat for lunch. When they are hungry, they either try to sleep or drink water from a fountain, he said.

"I want my country to benefit from this charity initiative. I want to give back to my country." said Zhang.

Each member of One Way is devoted to expanding awareness, not only among Chinese students, but on an international level.

Yao Lili who graduated this spring, also volunteered with Zhang at the Melton Foundation. She noticed the hardships placed on children in rural China. "We talked to them, interviewed them, and began to know of their stories," she added.

"The world is not perfect, and we all sometimes feel small and insignificant," she continued. "However, if more people are willing to turn compassion into action, together we can bring positive changes to the world," she said.

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