A Chinese woman assistant professor, or rather a doctoral student at the college of engineering at Virginia Tech, has shed a light onto the campus shooting rampage on April 16, which claimed a toll of 33 lives (including that of the gunman himself). In the past two days, a wise Chinese middle-age lady has been featured in American media, and her name is Haiyan Cheng, who, calm and composed, rescued the lives of students in her class at an extremely precarious situation. When her story was released and publicized, many Americans admired her courage from their bottom of hearts, "Really great, the Chinese."
April 16 was a murky day at Virginia Tech when Seung-hui Cho, a young South Korean student, drenched the university compass in bloodbath. In Classroom 206, when students of civil engineering were having their lesson, their professor fell in blood. In Room 207, a German lesson was in session, 10 of a dozen students were shot and killed, in Room 211, a French lesson was in session, there were about 15 casualties out of the 20 students at the class and their professor was massacred ��
Meanwhile, in Room 205, the whole class still retained intact as Haiyan Cheng, the assistant professior, was filling in for the professor, who was away at a conference.
Cheng, now in her late 30s and the mother of one daughter, came to the United States from the city of Hohhot, northern China in 1998. She obtained a Master's degree in Applied Mathematics from Michigan Technological University and a Master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Windsor, Canada. She is now working on her PH.D at the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and concurrently serves as an assistant professor.
Cheng arrived at the campus oft Virginia Tech earlier as usual that day (April 16). Her class started at nine o"clock sharp am and went into her office to at 8:50 am to check her emails. When she went into her class at about 9 am, an unexpected tragedy occurred all of sudden shortly afterwards.
In an interview with the "Washington Post", she recalled: "At 9:40 am, or 15 minutes before the end of my class, I heard the loud banging outside, very loud outside the classroom, but I could hardly tell where the banging came from, but one thing was certain that we were very close to the source of the banning. I mistook it as construction noise at first. Then came silence, a ten-minute silence, and more pops followed as I turned to the next subject..."
A female student sitting at the front row was curious and rose to look around to see what was happening. Chen and that female student went to the door and peered out. It turned out that queer sounds came from Room 208, but no abnormity so far could be seen as its door kept closed. All of a sudden, they saw a man emerge from Room 208 across the hall. He was holding a gun, but it was pointed down. This gave her a start. At this moment, two boy students rushed out from corridors, and the gunman gunned down them immediately. two bullets flashing past Cheng's ears, and they quickly shut the door.
"When coming back into the room, she told her students that the situation was in peril and then called every one to crawl onto the ground. One student from India, Zach Petkowicz, who was near the lectern "cowering behind it", realized the door was vulnerable, so proposed propping it up to stop the gunman from entering the room. There was a heavy rectangular table in the class, and she and several of her students pushed it against the door. When sporadic fire shots were heard, Cheng urged her students not to be scared but to hide themselves. No sooner had they fixed it in place than the gunman pushed hard from the outside. He forced it open about six inches, but no farther. He fired two shots through the door. In an e'mail to her friends, she said "we all crawled on the ground and felt very panic when heard the gunman change (cartridge) chargers. People inside the room used mobile phones to report the case to police. The gunman tried hard to open the doors several times but failed and then moved on. But sporadic fire shots did not end. Cheng and her students hid them in the room till they heard sounds of siren from outside the window.
These startled students and Cheng stayed behind in the room till everything calmed down outside and heard knocks on the door. They finally verified when Cheng verified those knocked on the door was policeman. When the police were leaving, they told students it was safe then and other fellow policemen would soon arrive soon. And other police came one minute later, students lined up after them and escaped, Cheng acknowledged.
Once outside the classroom, Haiyan Cheng saw used cartridges scattered on the ground, She urged her students to run away and not to step onto blood strains. When Cheng heard a female student sobing, she turned round to take her hand and lead her to safety along with other students.
As soon as she escaped the danger, she emailed her husband and her research team about her safety.
Despite praises lavished upon her, Cheng remained a low profile, saying her students had filled her with pride, and they did very well indeed. They worked together at the critical moment and made the correct decision. She said she felt extremely brtu sorry and appalled about such a tragedy, which posed a terrible nightmare for Virginia Tech.
On the evening of April 16, Haiyan Cheng attended a funeral service at Blacksburg Church at the site of Virginia Tech, an Associated Press reporter took a photo of her praying for those who had died in the mass killings, which were used by a number of American media press units. On April 17, Cheng and her husband were shown attending another grand funeral service, The Washington Post carried her story in its websites, which was spread far and wide. People praised her "bravery" and the friend of one reporter referred to her as "the great hero of that classroom', and quite a few netizens said that she had won the honor for the Chinese, and foster their "positive image".
Zheng, who however remained sober-minded, referred to herself as as simply "no hero". She said she was simple-minded, and what she was thinking about was only for survive. To be specific, they only did a correct thing, she said.
By People's Daily Online, and it authors are PD reporter Duan Congcong and PD special report to the UN Headquarters Hou Lingyu