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Paying it Forward

by Art U News

By Kirsten Coachman

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, helping those around us—family, friends, classmates, and our community—can go a long way. One of the biggest issues to arise over the past year is the lack of personal protective equipment, or, as we’ve come to know it, PPE. 

Last spring, thanks in part to Academy of Art University’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) former club president Shuwen “Winny” Wu’s efforts to send PPE supplies to Wuhan, China, CSSA received an overwhelming number of donations from local organizations and individuals. They received 16,000 surgery masks from Tina and Sally, Jiangsu Changzhao Feixiang Trading Co., Chinese Diligent Buddhists of Master Yunyi, Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco, Szechuan Zhu Cheng Bai Wen Co., and Yi Liu. CSSA member Wenhan Zheng also provided an additional 900 masks. The Academy club also received generous donations of KN95 masks, hand sanitizer, alcohol disinfectant wipes, and Lianhua Qingwen capsules. The donations also allowed the club to hand out supplies to club members in need of PPE as the city was under shelter-in-place orders.

A look at the masks packed for donation by CSSA members. Photo courtesy of Candice Zeng.

“As a student association, it’s our responsibility to help our students when they need help,” said CSSA President Qiyixin “Candice” Zeng, a School of Motion Pictures & Television producing major who graduated at the end of Fall 2020. 

Founded in 2014, CSSA is a way for Chinese students at the Academy to connect, help one another, and enjoy their college experience. “We’re the bridge that connects our Chinese students to Art U,” explained Zeng. “We’re the bridge that connects our Chinese students to the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in SF.” Additionally, Zeng expressed that the CSSA also makes themselves available to assist any students—international or otherwise—find their way at the Academy. 

COVID-19 continued to persist throughout the summer, and with a number of PPE supplies on hand, CSSA wanted to pay it forward. Looking to make a donation, the club turned to Campus Life for recommendations. “Given the current climate, we made the suggestion to donate medical-related supplies to the community. Specifically, a non-profit hospital in Chinatown, The Chinese Hospital,” explained Student Development Manager Orlando de la Garza. “Other student organizations, like the Drama Club, have made donations to other non-profit organizations like La Casa de las Madres and SFWAR (San Francisco Women Against Rape). Last year, Kappa Sigma fraternity made donations to troops overseas in celebration of Veterans Day.”

Chinese Hospital sends a thank you to CSSA for their donation. Photo courtesy of Candice Zeng.

On Sept. 16, 2020, Zeng headed to the Chinese Hospital located at 845 Jackson Street to oversee the CSSA’s donation of 5,000 surgical masks to the nonprofit organization. Their donation was recognized by Chinese Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jian Q. Zhang, who expressed gratitude on behalf of the Chinese Hospital and let CSSA know that their donation would be put to “good use right away” as the hospital continues to treat patients during the pandemic. 

When asked what it meant for CSSA to be able to give back to the San Francisco community in such a meaningful manner during this time, Zeng turned to the words of a recently deceased and beloved Supreme Court justice. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that ‘one lives not just for oneself, but for one’s community,’ and this [is] the belief in our hearts.”

Zeng would like to thank former CSSA President Shuwen “Winny” Wu (“We cannot help this many people without her leadership.”) and CSSA members Zixuan Shi, Yuan Xie, Tianji Liu, Luying “Lulu” Xiao, Zimeng “Jimmy” Yang, Xinyun “Rebecca” Lyu, Yunfei “Faye” Liu, Yuhe “Freedom” Wang, Liangyanlin “Anne” Peng, Longlong “Echo” He, Huaifeng “Frank” Lin, and Wei Jing. (“Without their help, we can’t make things happen.”) 

Interested in joining CSSA? Please email aauchinasa@gmail.com for more information.

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