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University student helps pupils in poor areas

Updated: 2016-06-06 07:45
By LIU CE (China Daily)

University student helps pupils in poor areas

Liu and students of the Shaba primary school on an excursion in Qianxi county. Provided to CHINA DAILY

Liu said she didn't know how bad things were until she heard Deng make a speech on her campus late in 2014.

"I always knew I wanted to volunteer for public service during my college days but I wanted to do something different to everyone else and not just do something like visiting nursing homes," said Liu, who was a sophomore at the time.

She asked Deng how she could help and Deng said she should design a portable dormitory.

"That delighted me," she said. "I realized I could use my knowledge of architecture to help these children. Deng only gave me 15 days to design a 40-person dormitory that could be easily transported and replicated."

After enlisting the help of several seniors at her university, Liu designed a two-storey modular dormitory with bedrooms, bathrooms, public spaces and a room for a resident counselor. The dormitory was designed to be solar powered and have wireless network access.

"The design was not the difficult part," Liu said.

"The difficulties came flooding in when we tried to use crowdfunding, find manufacturers, and a builder."

She said she likes to go out running when she feels under pressure. These days, she has been under pressure for so long she can easily put 5 km behind her.

Ren Hongyan, Liu's mother back home in Tianjin, said her daughter never let on just how much of a challenge the project was.

"She always told us the good news and never told us how difficult it was," Ren said. "I didn't know the details of what she was working on until I read all about her in the newspapers."

The first Flying Box designed by Liu went into use at Shaba primary school in June last year and a proud Liu visited the mountain village for the first time to attend the opening ceremony.

She turned up two days early and visited several of the pupils and the principal in their homes.

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