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BOARDMAN Red Cross member recalls China trip amid terror attacks



Published: Fri, November 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Sept. 11 attacks on the United States even affected air travel in China.

By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- Florence Wang arrived in Taiwan Sept. 10 to teach fund-raising methods to the Red Cross Society of China.

Wang was born in China and now serves as board chairwoman of the Mahoning Chapter of the American Red Cross in Boardman. She initially was unaware that while she returned to her homeland, the United States was under attack and Red Cross volunteers across the country were among those being called to duty.

Wang, a Canfield resident, didn't hear about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks until returning to her Taiwan hotel that evening.

She said people were gathered around a television displaying CNN in the hotel lobby.

"I said, 'What kind of movie are they playing?'" Wang said. "Everybody felt numb."

To make matters worse, she couldn't phone home to talk with her husband or check in on their daughter who resides in New York.

The attack also concerned many people Wang met during her trip, some who had relatives living in New York's Chinatown district.

Wang found an envelope from the American Embassy beneath her door by the following morning. The message advised her not to show signs of American citizenship for her safety.

Strong relations: But Wang said people from across the globe, who gathered at the convention, showed support for her and offered their condolences for victims. She said American/Chinese Red Cross relations are strong.

Mahoning County Red Cross officials are discussing the possibility of forming a relationship with the Sandong Provincial Chapter of the Red Cross, located in Sandong, China's second-largest province.

"After this China trip, I'm so proud, more than ever, being a member of the American Red Cross," she said.

She said the Red Cross Society of China, which runs the country's hospitals and senior citizen homes and is nearly 100 years old, is operated by the government; hence, wearing a Red Cross pin garners respect.

Returning home: While she is pleased with the outcome of the trip, Wang said getting back to the U.S. was a test. She was originally scheduled to fly home Oct. 8, but flights were still being canceled nearly a month after the attacks. She ended up arriving home Oct. 10.

"The whole airport was more heavily secured than here," said Wang, whose bags were checked about four times. "I had an eyelash curler they took away."

China's economy felt the effects of the attacks on America. She said flights to the Orient, which usually seat 400 people and are sold out, were arriving with as few as seven passengers.

She still corresponds with contacts overseas who want to know how the U.S. is recovering.

wheatley@vindy.com




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