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Earthquake Survivors Come to Beijing Paralympics with Dreams for Future

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Always upbeat and smiling, the 16-year-old wheelchair-bound Wang Fei, a grade-one student of Beichuan high school, is serving the ongoing Beijing Paralympics as a volunteer that distributes pamphlets introducing the Games.

Wang, together with three other students from the earthquake-stricken Sichuan Province, also brought their personal gifts -- some colorful paper-foldings with mottos written inside.

The mottos, which they conceived and wrote themselves, read "Be optimistic in the face of challenges," and "Strive to be stronger in adversity."

These self-made paper-foldings carried their best wishes for the Beijing Paralympics, said the students, who gave them to passers-by along with the pamphlets at a volunteer station in the Xicheng District of Beijing.

Quite a talker, Wang Fei showed a good sense of humor, and there seemed to be no taboo topic for him.

"I was saved from under the rubble 20 hours after the quake and my right leg had to be amputated. Actually, I felt very depressed in the first month in hospital," he recalled, adding that it was the care and encouragement from the doctors and nurses that helped him to gradually cheer up again.

As a true sports fan, Wang had his eyes glued to TV during the Beijing Olympic Games. "Tennis, basketball, table tennis and badminton are all my favorites sports," said the high school boy.

And as a Games volunteer this time, he was able to sit in the National Aquatics Center, or the Water Cube, to watch the swimming competition. Then he started to think that someday he may also compete at the Paralympics.

"I am really thinking about it," said the boy, whose biggest dream before was to become a business manager, in a serious tone.

Just like many other boys of his age, Wang used to have a rebellious nature, but the earthquake changed him.

"In the past, I tended to have some critical views on people around me, thinking that some of them were selfish and always quarreled for trivial things. But the quake totally changed my views: People helped each other in adversities and the whole country was helping us. We are really in unison and solidarity," said the boy.

Leaving Beijing on Tuesday night, Wang will go back to the Hua Xi Hospital in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, to continue his medical treatment.

"I will continue my exercise of walking on the artificial limb in the hospital, and I believe I can walk as well as any able-bodied boy one day," he said with confidence.

The trip to the Beijing Paralympic Games is really thought-provoking, Wang said, adding that from the performance of the Paralympians, he has further learnt how to be self-confident, independent and happy in adversities.

"I will go back to school upon my full recovery. As one of the 25 survivors of my 62-member class, I am lucky. And I treasure everything the government and people did for us -- free medical treatment, free food and accommodation, and great care and encouragement," said the boy. "The best way for me to repay their kindness is to fulfill my dream and contribute to the society."

Sharing games experience with Netizens

On Monday afternoon, Wang Fei, as well as three girl students in wheelchairs from Sichuan -- Duan Zhixiu from Beichuan middle school, Li Dan from Dongqi middle school in Mianzhu City, and Liao Yaoyao from Jinghua middle school in Shifang city, visited China's leading news portal,, for an online interview.

Basking in joy and excitement for their presence at the Beijing Paralympics, the students shared their experience with the netizens in an outspoken manner.

"Beijing's environment is good and the air is very clean, just like what we have in my hometown," said Duan Zhixiu.

The girl said that she liked the Games opening ceremony, staged in the National Stadium in north Beijing on Saturday night, very much, and was most touched by the "hand ballet" staged by 11-year-old Li Yue, who was trapped more than 70 hours in the rubble and lost her left leg, but never gave up her dream of being a ballerina.

Duan also sincerely thanked people all over the country, for their great support and encouragement for those affected by the earthquake.

Li Dan told the netizens that she was most impressed by the "warmth and enthusiasm" of the people in Beijing during the trip.

"Wherever we went, the people we met said hello to us and encouraged us," said the girl.

"Ever since the tremor hit on May 12, we have received so much help from all over the country, and we feel honored to repay the society a little through our volunteer service at the Beijing Paralympics," she added.

(Xinhua News Agency September 9, 2008)

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