Remembering Lu Lingzi

By Yuting Yan
BU News Service

Just as the Boston Marathon bombings did not take away the hopes of those who will race next week, a raging wind on Monday evening did not blow away people’s resolve to be at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel  to memorialize Lu Lingzi, the Chinese student who was killed near the finish line on Boylston Street.

“For many of us, the past year has been difficult. But we have learned to cherish,” said Haisu Yuan at the memorial service. Yuan is the co-president of the Boston University Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), which organized the one-hour public interfaith service to mark the anniversary of Lu’s death.

The service was held under the guidance of Rev. Brittany Longsdorf, Boston University’s chaplain for international students.

Douglas Sear, vice president and Chief of Staff of the Office of the President, said at the service that despite cultural differences, certain things are universal.

“Love is universal. Grief is universal. Our understanding of the loving parents’ experience is universal,” he said. “Beautiful Lingzi will never be replaced, and her spirit will stay with us forever.”

Lu’s parents attended the service, holding hands as they entered the chapel shortly before the service began.

The Boston Athletic Association, the Marathon’s organizing body, gave the Lu family 15 spots for runners in this year’s race. The family gave seven of the spots to Boston University students.

Yujue Wang, one of the seven runners from the Boston University community who has gained a spot in this year’s Boston Marathon in honor of Lu, said at the service that the 26-mile journey on April 21 will not be easy for her, but she will make it to the finish line for Lu.

“All the seven of us got motivation from Lingzi to run this year’s Marathon,” said Wang. “This is definitely the time to show how strong we are as a community.”

The marathon will be the first race for Wang, who has been training by herself and logged 16 miles on a recent Saturday.

After the marathon tragedy, Boston University trustee Kenneth Feld, chair of the Campaign for Boston University, established the Lu Lingzi Scholarship Fund to keep Lu’s memory alive. Members of the Board of Trustees collectively have made contributions in excess of $560,000 to the fund.

“Two Lu Lingzi Scholarships will be created by the fund, and one new scholarship will be awarded on an annual basis,” said Luke Manley, program manager of the fund. “Outstanding international students who plan to pursue a master’s degree at Boston University are eligible for consideration. Preference will be given to outstanding students from China.”

Yage Meng, another co-president of Boston University CSSA, read a letter from the Chinese Consulate at the service, which offered condolences to Mr. and Mrs. Lu and gratitude for Boston University’s effort to show kindness and support.

Li Jing, who was Lu’s roommate at Boston University, gave a touching speech about love and forgiveness at the service.

She and Lu decided to be roommates as soon as they first met.

“We share so many similarities. We liked shopping together at Newbury Street, and complaining about heavy homework to each other,” said Jing. “Lingzi is such a beautiful girl with a beautiful heart, who enjoyed music and delicious food, and never stopped her exploration in our kitchen.”

“Lingzi is more a sister than a roommate to me,” she said.

“Many people asked how I felt for the past year,” said Jing. “How can I not be angry after experiencing the fear and hopelessness of the dark nights when Lingzi didn’t return home, and the sadness when I received the phone call from police about her death.”

However, it was the love and support from Jing’s friends and professors, who took care of her during the hardest time, that removed her anger and encouraged her to continue to live to the fullest.

Jing shared Martin Luther King’s saying with attendees at the service: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Many attendees  were deeply touched and encouraged by the speeches and music performances.

“It’s really nice to see how much hope that families and friends still have,” said Crystal Shah , a senior majoring in science education at Boston University. She didn’t know Lu before the tragedy, but wanted to come and show her support.

The Chinese song performed at the service, although in a language Shah doesn’t understand, gave her a feeling of hope and courage.

“It wasn’t about sadness and anger,” said Shah , who made a paper crane for the Lu Lingzi Foundation to memorize her.  “It’s more about looking into the future.”

BU Chinese Students Run for Lu Lingzi

By Chen Tong
BU News Service

Every day after class, Baiyun Yao, a doctoral student at Boston University, goes to the campus gym for a serious workout. She jogs on the indoor track or rides a stationary bike in preparation for her first marathon.

Yao has attended the Boston Marathon twice — as a volunteer and as part of the crowd, but this year she will attend as a runner in honor of Lu Lingzi, the Chinese student who died in the marathon bombing last April.

“I want to finish the journey Lingzi didn’t finish,” said Yao.

Yao has much in common with Lu.  Like Lu, Yao is from China and came to BU in her 20s. She is passionate about sports. Even though Yao didn’t know Lu, she feels a connection to her slain classmate; so she decided to train for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Last April, Yao was on the sidelines, cheering on her friends as they ran by. Most finished the marathon in three hours, she said. So, when the two bombs exploded, they already went home.

BU Chinese Students Run for Lu Lingzi

“I felt so lucky… when I heard the news,” said Yao. Soon after the blast, emails and messages started arriving from her family and friends. It was not until two days later she learned a Chinese classmate had died in the bombing.

“It was such a sad story,” said Yao. “I was so shocked about Lingzi’s death.”

This February, right after the Chinese New Year, Yao learned that the Boston Athletic Association had given Lu’s family the option to choose seven athletes to run the race. The Lu’s decided to choose Boston University students. Yao thought about it for a few days, applied, and was chosen.

Yao said she relates to Lu because she knows what it is like to travel all the way from China to the United States.

“Chinese community at BU is like a big family. We will help Lingzi to finish her dream,” said Yao.

She also wants to send a message to the terrorists “Whatever happened can only make us stronger than ever before. We are gonna fight this together,” said Yao.

Yao is ready for the race, but she is not the only member of the Chinese community who wants to run for Lu. Among the seven runners, three are Chinese students.

Yujue Wang is a junior who is pursuing a bachelor dual degree in economics and finance. Like Yao, this year will be Wang’s first marathon as a racer. Wang said Lingzi’s death has become her motivation to reach the finish line.

“Lingzi carries so many similar characteristics with all of us — international students coming all the way from China and nation builders when returning home,” said Wang.

Being the only child in the family, Wang’s parents are concerned about her ability to run more than 20 miles. “But they feel proud of me for taking on this honorary commitment,” said Wang.

The money raised by the seven runners will go to the Lu Lingzi Scholarship Fund, which was created by Boston University shortly after the bombing. The scholarship aims at providing support to outstanding graduate students from China who want to come to BU. The fund now exceeds $1 million and the donations are still coming, according to the university news service, BU Today.

Besides honoring Lu by running, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at BU (BUCSSA) is planning to hold a memorial ceremony at Marsh Chapel next month. Group spokesman Zhixiu Jin, said they want to make a giant paper crane for Lu. In China, the paper crane symbolizes remembrance.

“We would like BU students to write down their notes on this giant paper,” said Jin. “Let it fly to the heaven and tell Lingzi how much we miss her.”

BUCSSA plans to put the paper crane in front of Marsh Chapel. The time and location of the ceremony will be announced later, but Jin said BUCSSA will try their best to provide those people who care about Lu with a way to share their feelings and love.

“We are one community,” said Jin. “We will make our promise to move on with her spirit.”