March 6, 2020
After learning from Chinese social media about a shortage of medical supplies in the Chinese province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak, mechanical engineering student Ruohan Xu did what good engineers do when they see a problem. He designed a solution.
Xu is a first-year student from China, and he helped mobilize a team of Chinese students from across campus to organize a humanitarian fundraiser called A Hand for Wuhan. The students collaborated with civil and environmental engineering Professor Ruth Chen, Juan Tavares, Director of the Slutzker Center of International Services, and Joseph Hernon, Director of Emergency Management and Business Continuity.
“Students from China are concerned about friends and family,” said Xu. “We just want to do something for China. We all want to help.”
The response from the Syracuse University community was rapid. “So many students asked how they could donate,” said Xu. “Our goal was $30,000 – in 24 hours we reached that goal.”
In about a week the total climbed to $53,000. Thanks to such incredible support, the student led initiative was able to purchase and ship 934 pairs of medical goggles and 4,800 cases of food. The first round of supplies is expected to arrive at several severely impacted cities across China in the next few days. Additionally, the group has an imminent plan to purchase a shipment of 10,000 medical masks.
Having raised far more than anticipated, A Hand for Wuhan is not currently accepting donations, but the group is considering another fundraising drive in the future.
An engineering mindset enables Ruohan Xu to uniquely address global and social issues, but when reflecting on the motivation to aid the people of China and the willingness of others to donate Xu said, “It is a human responsibility. People want to help.”