Severe weather brings out warm hearts
Published: Feb 21, 2024 11:03 PM

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

  Toward the end of Chunyun, or the Spring Festival travel rush, the world's largest human migration, more than 25,000 travelers were stranded in Guazhou county in Jiuquan, Northwest China's Gansu Province, due to the impact of strong winds and snowfall. 

Known for its wind power resources and honeydew melons, Guazhou is located at the western end of the Gansu section of the Hexi Corridor. Once a critical part of the ancient Silk Road, the Hexi Corridor boasts more than 1,400 kilometers of the Great Wall built in the Han Dynasty (202BC-220AD) and over 1,200 kilometers erected in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).  

Guazhou has been a crucial transportation hub linking the East and West of China since ancient times. Even though it was a major commercial town in ancient times, it hasn't been known for its wealth in modern days. In fact, it was only removed from the list of poverty-stricken counties in recent years and the county is still making great efforts to help improve the life of locals.

Yet it was in such a small county where 25,000 travelers were stranded due to severe weather. The travelers panicked and turned to social media for help, attracting nationwide attention. 

A traveler surnamed Han and his family were traveling back home in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region after a family festival trip to Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. On Saturday, they encountered a snowstorm in Yumen. As the snowstorm intensified, the family witnessed many car accidents along the way caused by the severe weather conditions. 

With highway controls and the severe weather, they were forced to detour and stopped at Guazhou. After arriving in Guazhou, they found the streets filled with stranded people and vehicles, and all the hotel rooms were fully booked.

"We were about to break down!" recalled Han. "We have two children, the youngest being only 7 years old. We didn't know what to do with no food and no place to stay."

Helpless and desperate, Han saw a post online claiming there was a place providing accommodations for free to stranded travelers. It turned out to be a care center that normally provides after-school care services for primary and secondary students. Upon arrival, Han found many stranded families with situations similar to theirs. The owner of the care center arranged beds for them and provided instant noodles and hot water.

"I still don't know their names," said Han. "We are so thankful to the local government and the people of Guazhou. Without them, we really wouldn't know what to do." 

The care center was not the only one to lend a helping hand. Local authorities activated emergency plans, opening government halls, schools, gyms, and other public facilities to accommodate travelers. The government also immediately allocated needed resources such as blankets, water, food, and other living supplies for the stranded crowds for free. 

After hotels became fully booked and public facilities became packed as well, restaurants, stores and other private institutions, even the homes of residents across the city, opened their doors to those stranded in the cold wind. On Saturday evening, Ma Qian, a resident in Guazhou, and her family took in a family of five. Besides proving them shelter, Ma's mother also cooked eight local dishes for the guests. 

Before the stranded family left the next day, they told Ma, "From now on, we have family here in Guazhou. If it weren't for this storm, we might have never met." The warm help and hospitality in Guazhou became an unforgettable experience for many stranded travelers.

The selfless help extended to fellow countrymen in difficult times embodies the kindness, sincerity, and unity ingrained in the character of Chinese people. Chinese pay very close attention to cultivating virtue and good moral character, which has been advocated since ancient times. Being kind, sincere, and united are the traditional virtues of the Chinese nation.

"Put other people before oneself" is a saying that originates from the Confucian classic The Book of Rites, which dates back some 2,000 years. The quote is not only familiar to Chinese people, they are also striving to live up to it. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.