Tibetan School Run by Evanston Couple Destroyed

Teachers, students feared dead following 6.9 quake.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A school run by an Evanston couple was one of several leveled Tuesday when an earthquake rattled Southwestern China.

    A school run by an Evanston couple was one of several leveled Tuesday when an earthquake rattled Southwestern China.

    Asang and his wife, Nancy Floy, feared Wednesday that they'd lost everything in the 6.9 quake that struck in a mountainous region near Tibet.

    "We think that our head teacher and her husband might also be dead. So, we're pretty sure we've lost our teachers and our students and our school," said Floy.

    The series of quakes has killed nearly 600 people and injured roughly 10,000 others.

    Asang, who grew up with a nomadic Tibetan family and identifies himself by just one name, has for the last 24 hours connected with some of his relatives in Yushu on the Internet and by phone. And what the couple has been hearing has been devastating.

    "They say that the city is completely leveled. They can see people that have lost their arms and legs [and who are] buried under the wreckage," Floy said.

    On the phone, Asang said he can hear people crying in the background.

    Being able to communicate with one of that nation's most inaccessible places is a marvel of modern technology, and something Asang had never been exposed to until he left his nomadic family of sheep and yak herders 10 years ago in a trek through the Himalayas in pursuit of a better education.

    That desire for knowledge was the driving force behind the Tibet Girls School which the couple launched two years ago. They said that most of their income and energe since its inception has gone to helping it thrive.

    "We teach them to read and write Chinese -- Tibetan -- a little bit of math, a little bit of sewing and weaving," Floy said.

    Their efforts were soon to culminate in the first graduating class and jobs.

    "We had the jobs," Floy said. "The monasteries were going to hire our girls to transcribe the Buddhist texts on to harddrive, but the monasteries have been destroyed as well."

    Asang and Floy's business Web site has a link to donate to an effort already underway to rebuilding their boarding school.