A Southern California Christian school community is shaken after the 35 Chinese students and chaperones they were expecting to receive on Tuesday as part of an exchange program were involved in Saturday’s deadly Asiana Airlines crash.
Two students in the group were killed, and have been identified as Ye Meng Yuan and Wang Lin Jia, both 16-year-old girls.
West Valley Christian School in West Hills in the San Fernando Valley had made arrangements with about a dozen local families to host the visitors for three weeks before another group of younger Chinese students was slated to arrive at the end of the month, school counselor Maggie Rojas said.
Arrangements are being made to have the surviving students fly back to China, and the host families have been notified that the program is canceled, Rojas said.
The host program was in its first summer, and was organized after a Chinese school contacted the Southern California school earlier this year to set up an exchange program, Rojas said.
Rojas said that since the plane crash, people all over country and the world have been getting in touch with the school to ask how they can help the Chinese students.
People from as far as away as Australia have offered to pitch in for survivors who lost all their luggage, she said.
Donations can be sent to the church and school offices at 22450 Sherman Way, West Hills, CA 91307. An online donation page has been set up at http://www.wvcch.org/tithe.html. Donors should note that the donation is for the “Chinese Student Memorial Fund.”
A vigil will be held at the church on Thursday to honor the two girls. The 7 p.m. prayer session is open to the community, and the would-be host families will attend.
Rojas said the families, who had lists with the names and ages of the students who would be staying with them, “are really struggling with this.”
A message posted on the school’s website reads, “Give us wisdom and compassion as we care for our guests from China.”
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News