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.”