USC Shooting Brings Together Divided Asian Community
Michael Kwon, a 24 year-old masters student, walked out of his class at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to attend the vigil held in honor of Ming Qu and Ying Wu, two University of Southern California students who were murdered Wednesday.
“I’m proud of being Chinese student today [sic]. I was in middle of class, and I told the professor I had to go. I thought I would be the only one, but all the other people came behind me. I was so moved,” said Kwon.
He was surprised when students from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Asian Americans picked up their belongings and followed him.
The international Asian student population at USC came together as a family Wednesday, regardless of political divides. For students thousands of miles away from home, the shooting brought together a community separated by the Pacific Ocean on one end, and language barriers on the other.
Students from Asia wrote prayers and goodbyes in Chinese on letterheads, lit by the glow of the candles brought by friends of the victims. Near the end of the vigil when the television stations and reporters had come and gone, those closest to Qu and Wu held up pictures of the two on their phones. They placed their phones by the flowers that grievers had brought to the scene, and they did what many Chinese traditionally do to honor the dead— they bowed three times.
The murder of Ming Qu and Ying Wu shook the international students of the USC community, not only by the brutality of the shootings, but in reminding them of the families they had left at home.
“When I see their profile pictures on Facebook, I think of their family, my family. We are single child [sic]. The kid is everything, especially because Chinese value education. In my two years here, I would have spent all of my parent’s life savings. I owe them. I owe them,” said Kwon.
The One-Child Policy act limits a married couple in China from having more than one child, a reflection of the huge population of the Chinese; however, it also means that a parent’s lifelong hopes and hard work falls on one child. For an aging couple, the child could mean their livelihoods as China is experiencing a severe old-age problem with increasing numbers of seniors and not enough new births.
Many of those at the vigil hail from Mainland China. Regardless of stereotypes of the rich and powerful, most of the students and their families were struggling financially by coming to USC, which denies international students financial aid and have stringent financial policies not directed towards domestic students.
For Ming Qu, Ying Wu and hundreds of students like them, USC was a dream school that offered an American education— a prize so valuable that parents would spend their entire lifetimes to send their single child abroad in hopes of providing them opportunities that they themselves were denied during the Cultural Revolution.
Students, community members and faculty of all ethnicities gathered to honor the dead on a windy and solemn night. For Kwon, it was a night that “moved his soul”.
“The Dalai Lama says we focus on the different [sic], but we should actually focus on our similarities. It doesn’t matter when it’s something like this. We are human being. In this crowd there’s African American, White, Spanish. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Chinese students,” Kwon said, “We are all the Trojan family.”
Reach Associate News Editor Jerry Ting Here