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Growing Up Fast Special> Aftermath of the Quake> Maturing Overnight> Growing Up Fast
UPDATED: July-9-2008 Web Exclusive
He Xiang: a Brave Heart
Edited by XU BEI

He Xiang (R2) and her friends attended a TV show in Hunan Province

Born in 1986 in Xiang'e Township of Dujiangyan City, He Xiang, 22, chose to return to her hometown as a college-graduate village official rather than stay in the city after graduation.

"I met with eight peers on the day I registered at the town's Party and administrative office about a year ago. We were then sent to different villages," He recalls. "We got along very well and soon became good friends because we were the same age."

He and her friends were on their way back to the town government office building when the quake occurred at 2:28 p.m. on May 12. Unfortunately, He was trapped under the rubble.

"What impressed me most was the strong desire for life under such despairing circumstances," she recalls. "I began to worry about my family, friends and villagers, for I was not sure how many people were still buried under debris, waiting for help."

He was finally freed from the rubble by rescuers some two hours later. Physically, she suffered from a leg fracture, which had a likelihood of infection or amputation at the worst; the mental challenge, however, seemed much bigger and tougher--the deaths of her peers Wang Chen and Yue Feng, left a deep scar for He and the other college-graduate village officials.

"I could not help recalling the good old days together. But I knew clearly that yesterday won't come once more," He sighed.

In fact, there was little time for them to grieve longer, for the local disaster relief work had begun and there was still has a long way to go.

"I insisted on working because there are quite a lot of things awaiting us. My leg hurts but I was able to work with my brain and hands. If Wang Chen were there, she would definitely have done the same as I did. The quake can be seen as a lesson to us all on how to be strong," she noted. "From the very moment I was pulled out of the rubble, I became fully aware of the meaning of life. I should live for people, rather than just for myself. It is the people who saved me."

The average working period for He's career position as graduate-college village official is two years, which entitles them to choose new jobs in the near future. But He has made up her mind to stay in the town.

"I was born and grew up here. I'd rather devote my time to the people of Xiang'e Township," she claimed.

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