This Oxford Police Department post on Twitter received more than 500 likes.
This Oxford Police Department post on Twitter received more than 500 likes.

Chinese students at Miami donate 5,000+ protective masks to community

By Margo Kissell, university news and communications

Miami University students from China have donated more than 5,000 protective masks in the Oxford area to health workers, the police and some Miami employees.

Hanzhou Zhang, a senior computer science major leading the effort, said their most recent donation of about 2,000 masks was made to Miami’s Student Health Services to distribute as needed.

Zhang said he and several other Chinese students are living in Oxford in a couple of residence halls that remain open on Miami’s campus. As the pandemic spread, China reduced most flights between there and the United States, making it difficult for the students to fly home. He said parents also worried about their children potentially getting infected on the flights.

“We usually use WeChat, a Chinese chatting app, to talk with our parents. Our parents also very much appreciate ISSS (International Student and Scholar Services),” which he said held a webinar for Chinese students’ parents.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19

ISSS Director Molly Heidemann

Molly Heidemann stands beside some of the masks donated by students (photo courtesy Hanzhou Zhang).

Zhang said he was concerned there could be a shortage of masks in local hospitals, at Miami and in the Oxford community, so he mentioned his idea to donate the protective gear while communicating in a group chat with his fellow students and their parents.

“They all wanted to make a contribution to the university and community because of ‘Love and Honor,’” he said.

Seventy Chinese students and their parents collected and then donated more than 5,000 disposable masks, Zhang said. They included those donated to the health center, 1,250 to professors and students, 750 to Oxford residents and workers in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, 350 to International Student and Scholar Services, 800 to local law enforcement, and many more.

“I think it is super thoughtful of our Chinese students and their families to be eager and willing to donate masks to the Miami University and Oxford community” during this challenging time, said Molly Heidemann, director of International Student and Scholar Services. Zhang said Heidemann assisted him in contacting the health center and provided other useful information about donating the masks.

Preparing for graduate school

Zhang — a teaching assistant in the department of computer science and software engineering — said he has enjoyed being a student at Miami. As he prepares to graduate, he said remote learning is going well.

“Miami offers many opportunities for students to be successful,” he said, adding that he conducted research with one of his professors and was a member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, as well as the ski club and a street dance club that won a 2019 competition.

Zhang said he plans to attend the University of Southern California to pursue a master’s degree in cyber security engineering.