December 3, 2013

After Typhoon Haiyan, campus community holds vigil, raises funds

A month after the initial destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan, also referred to as Typhoon Yolanda, that killed more than 5,500 people and affected nearly 14 million individuals in Southeast Asia, students in the University are leading efforts to raise awareness and funds for disaster relief.

“I believe that events like this can bring not only the international students together, but also the campus together to reflect on the aftermath of the disaster and its implications, as well as find contributions to the ongoing relief efforts,” third-year Anthony Gokianluy wrote in an e-mail.

Gokianluy, a native of Philippines, estimates there are between a dozen to 50 Filipino students on campus, all of whom received e-mails from the Office of International Affairs (OIA), the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and their respective academic advisors.

One of those e-mails was sent by Tamara Felden, director of the OIA. “We have been following the media reports of Typhoon Yolanda that has struck the Philippines, and you are very much in our thoughts,” she wrote. Felden encouraged students to reach out to members of the college community if they needed assistance.

The e-mails were well-intentioned and heartwarming, said Gokianluy, who, as treasurer of the Filipino RSO Kababayan, plans to coordinate with the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago and encourage people to donate to several Filipino organizations.

Kababayan is one of several University RSOs and sororities that have organized campaigns over the past month to raise awareness and funds for the typhoon disaster relief.

PanAsia, an umbrella organization encompassing more than 20 multicultural RSOs, held an event on Friday, November 15 in which students constructed decorative paper cranes with messages of support for those affected by the typhoon.

“We’ll be hanging the cranes people make up in Reynolds Club, and if people want, they can leave donations,” said PanAsia board member and second-year Vo Yoon earlier this month. “We want to be an outlet for people if they don’t really have the financial means,” he added.

The University chapter of the American Red Cross sold Chinese buns and Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies in Reynolds Club on Wednesday, November 20. The group also collected donations during a candlelight vigil last week organized by UChicago’s Asian-American InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (AAIV).

Second-year Mo Kwok, one of the organizers of the event, said the vigil was a “wake-up call” which reminded the attendees of the pressing issues that existed outside the campus. “I feel like by the end of the vigil there was definitely a sense of urgency where people felt like they should act,” she said.

Combined, the American Red Cross on campus raised over $300 from donations collected at both events.

Additionally, the fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon and sorority alpha Kappa Delta Phi hosted a lunch fundraiser on November 26, which raised over $250.

Future events to support the Philippines are in the works. According to second-year Aurna Hasnie, community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega will hold a benefit concert and silent auction to raise funds to donate to the Philippine Red Cross next quarter.

“I’m immensely glad that [the typhoon has led] to international awareness for the suffering in the Philippines, but I hope that it leads to a sustained aid effort as opposed to a passing media sensation,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Editor’s Note: Anthony Gokianluy is a former Maroon staffer.