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Feature: Foreign motorcyclists give helping hand
2013/04/23

LUSHAN, Sichuan, April 22 (Xinhua) -- For motorcyclists Brendan Frentz and Michael Kleinert, the friendship between them and Li Yongchao started with a ride following the devastating earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

On hearing about the quake on Saturday, the two decided to join volunteers on Frentz's second-hand red motorbike in Ya'an City, where they ran into Li, who was rushing home to check on his family. The anxiety on Li's face encouraged the pair to offer him a ride.

"He was scared. After all, we are foreigners and we don't know how to get there," said Frentz, a foreign student from Edmonton, in Canada.

According to Frentz, Li is a 22-year-old construction worker from Taiping Township of Lushan County, one of the townships that was worst hit by the quake. His parents and sister live there.

"His father is a coal miner. If something happened, it would have been the worst," said Frentz.

The scene along their journey stunned the three: collapsed houses everywhere, roads seriously damaged and military vehicles rushing to rescue people.

"I was very impressed by how fast the government reacted, their mobilization and organization," said Kleinert, also a student, from Oklahoma, the United States.

At Baosheng Township, seven to eight kilometers away from Li's hometown, they stopped as the road was blocked. They left the bike and started walking.

Two hours later, the three arrived at Li's home -- a two-storey house with the second floor damaged. Luckily, Li's father was spending the weekend at home, instead of in the coal mine shaft, when the quake occurred, and all family members were safe.

"Li's mother and sister burst into tears when they saw us," said Frentz.

The two soon became stars, as it was the first time foreigners had been to the remote township.

Both Frentz and Kleinert are sophomores from the Southwest University of Finance and Economics (SUFE) based in the provincial capital Chengdu.

Frentz said the strong tremor woke him in his dormitory on Saturday morning, but he did not realize how serious it was until he looked on the Internet.

"I wanted to do something, and a motorcycle is very useful for not getting stuck," he said, speaking fluent Chinese.

On Sunday morning, the pair left for Lushan County High School, where SUFE volunteers helped set up tents to teach local students.

"Our classmates told us they needed English teachers, and we believe it is a decent excuse for absence from school," said a smiling Frentz.

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