Help from Chinese Alumni

The COVID-19 pandemic struck a chord with Badgers in China. According to Neville Lam ’98, president of the WAA Shanghai alumni chapter, “As the first country to encounter the spread of this novel virus on a large scale, we understand very well the immense human costs in containing the pandemic, and as alumni, we are keen to help.”

The leadership of mainland China’s three WAA chapters, in Shanghai, Beijing, and South China, believed that the most direct way to help their alma mater was a fundraising campaign. Over the course of three weeks, they raised some $20,000 for the UW System COVID-19 Response Fund, which supports initiatives such as research efforts, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for health care providers and patients, and funds for patients experiencing financial hardship.

Lam says that donations didn’t just come from alumni in mainland China, but also from chapter members living overseas. On top of that, current students from China and their parents also gave generously.

“So it was a cross-generational and territorial effort, a reflection of the diversity that the UW stands for,” he says. Lam adds that He “Frank” Zhang PhD’12, president of the South China chapter, Yatong “James” Zhang ’16 of the Beijing chapter, and Yanie (Yangfeiyue) Sun ’16, his colleague in the Shanghai chapter, were instrumental in making the campaign a success.

Lora Klenke, WFAA’s managing director for international alumni relations, was impressed by how the group’s first-ever fundraising campaign rallied Badgers to help out. “We are so grateful for our Badger family in China for thinking of the Madison community, a community they consider their second home,” she says.