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Earthquake students sit for top exam
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Students line up yesterday to familiarize themselves with the classrooms at Sichuan Engineering Technical College where they will sit their three-day long national college entrance examination from today.

Wang Lei, a student from the earthquake-stricken Mianyang city, considers himself lucky to be able to take the national college entrance examination.

The 19-year-old managed to flee his home before it collapsed in the May 12 earthquake. A week after the disaster, the local education authorities moved Wang and his schoolmates from Mianyang to a temporary shelter in nearby Deyang city.

Besides food and clothing, Wang also received textbooks and psychological conseling, which had helped him prepare for the exam.

"I will do my best in the exam," Wang said. "I am lucky just to be able to take it."

During the next three days, 96,000 high-school students in the quake-hit zones will take the annual examination, almost a month after the rest of the country.

These students have gone through a traumatic experience, but are determined to succeed in life.

A total of 4,721 students will take the exam in Deyang city, half of whom are from nearby counties.

Local education authorities said 70 percent of the schools in the Deyang region are now considered too dangerous to enter.

Since June 10, construction workers from Tianjin had built a total of 653 prefabricated temporary classrooms where the examination will be held. Safety shelters have also been built in case of a severe aftershock.

"At the beginning, the students refused to move from their sweltering tents to our buildings, despite proof of their safety," Tang Ying, a psychotherapist, said. "We spent more than a week to help them deal with their fears."

Tang along with other 30 therapists have been living with the students for the past month, offering conseling whenever necessary.

"Now we can finally see the smile back on their faces," Tang said.

(China Daily July 3, 2008)

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