U.Va. Students and Staff Organize Charity Performing Arts Series for Chinese Earthquake Victims; 'Help Is Hope' to Kick Off Aug. 1

July 30, 2008 — In August and September, local residents will have multiple opportunities to touch the lives of those critically affected by the magnitude 8.0 earthquake that hit China on May 12.

Students and staff from the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, together with the University's Chinese Students and Scholars Society and the International Studies Office, are initiating a series of concerts and dramatic and dance performances throughout the next two months to raise funds for the areas hit by the earthquake. With nearly 70,000 confirmed dead and nearly 375,000 listed as injured or missing, the earthquake left 4.8 million people homeless. It is thought that the number directly affected by the disaster could reach 11 million. Funds collected at each event will be transferred to the Chinese Red Cross to provide food supplies, medicine, education and much-needed reconstruction supplies.

The series of events (see schedule below) will kick off with an Opening Ceremony featuring several artists on Friday, Aug. 1, from 3 to 3:30 p.m. with donations being collected until midnight, at the Free Speech Monument on the east end of Charlottesville's Downtown Mall. Events will continue throughout August and September at venues all around the Charlottesville area.

Haiyan Liu, a U.Va. graduate economics student from the Sichuan Province in China, said that “Two hours before the earthquake, I was chatting with my parents on the phone. Thirty hours after the earthquake, I was on the plane to Chengdu, Sichuan, sad, shocked and exhausted. When I hugged my families, I really appreciated what I had and felt sorry for people who lost theirs.”

Haiyan is still in China with her family. But as Jie Chao, a Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education from Bejing and an organizer of the Help Is Hope series, shared that it is difficult for those who cannot return. “The reality that we cannot go back and help our people makes us feel more painful and guilty,” she said. “It touches me deeply to know that students, staff and faculty, and U.Va., the artists and the venue owners in the community here are willing to give their time and resources to help rebuild the homes, schools and families in China. We are very grateful to all of these people.”

Tom Rose is the other organizer and founder of the Help Is Hope series. "I had a very emotional reaction to the news coming out of Sichuan following the earthquake," he said. "I saw little being done in our community and felt I must take action, and music is a universal healing force. That's how I came up with the concept for this series." As Rose was developing his idea, he received a "very powerful" e-mail from Jie. The two, both part of the Curry School community, decided to join forces. "I've been doing all of the bookings for the series, and Jie is the project manager extraordinaire! I cannot state strongly enough the dedication and strength of her skills."

The support the series has received from artists, volunteers, the University and abroad has been tremendous, said Rose, a multimedia specialist, Macintosh products specialist and Classroom tecnhology support staff at Curry. "The deans in the Curry School have supported our efforts. We now have nonprofit status through the U.Va. Alumni Association, and we met with U.Va. President John T. Casteen III's staff recently about our cause.

"Last week, we were invited to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. to discuss the rebuilding efforts in Sichuan. We also met with the USAID, the president of Red Cross U.S. and members of the Johns Hopkins University trauma team. It was very inspiring and is opening doors for greater assistance on our end," Rose said.

Rose, himself, is a musician and recording engineer, but in this effort, says, "I am merely a neighbor, trying to assist another neighbor."

For information about the performances, organizations involved in the effort and for details about the continued relief, recovery and reconstruction effort in China, visit helpishope.org or call Rose at 434-823-1659 or 434-924-1030.

Performances currently scheduled as part of the Help is Hope series:

•    Friday, Aug. 1, 3 p.m.-midnight: Opening Ceremony with Dominic Durham and Marvin Brown, Free Speech Monument, Downtown Mall, Charlottesville.

•    Tuesday, Aug. 5, 8 p.m.: Granville Mullings Quartet, Enoteca, Charlottesville.

•    Friday, Aug. 8, time TBA: Greg Howard, Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar, Charlottesville.

•    Saturday, Aug. 9, 9 p.m.: "Swingin' Saturday Night" with Acme Swing Manufacturing Co. and special guests, Rapunzel's Coffee, Lovingston.

•    Tuesday, Aug. 12, 8 p.m.: Rick Olivarez Trio, C&O Restaurant, Charlottesville.

•    Friday, Aug. 15, 9 p.m.: "Blues for Sichuan" with The Biscuit Rollers and South 29, Uncle Charlie's, Crozet.

•    Friday, Aug. 22, 5:30 p.m.: "Fridays After Five" with John Carden and Greenwich Swing Time, Charlottesville Pavilion.

•    Friday, Aug. 22, 9:30 p.m.: Chicken Head Blues Band, Durty Nelly's, Charlottesville.

•    Sunday, Aug. 24, 8 p.m.: "Night of the Drum" with Darrell Rose African Percussion, The Shabeen, Charlottesville.

•    Sunday, Aug. 31, time TBA: George Melvin and the B3 Organ Quartet, Fellini's, Charlottesville.

•    Friday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m.: Devon Sproule, Gravity Lounge, Charlottesville.

Be sure to check the Web site — http://www.helpishope.org/, as Rose expects to "more than double the event offerings" In the coming days.