Dancer rolls with disaster aftermath
Prayer and singing help a student from Maui as well as her classmates cope
Maui resident Ashley Bowers was taking a dance class on the second floor of a studio in Sichuan Province when she heard what sounded like a drum roll and then felt the building begin to shake.
She said she and other American students ran under doorways.
"We were just standing there praying and singing hymns," said Bowers, interviewed by telephone. "It made us feel more peaceful."
Bowers, 23, a 2002 graduate of St. Anthony High School, said the earthquake seemed to last a long time -- according to the news in China, for about three minutes.
Bowers, a college senior on a six-week trip to study Chinese classical dance and folk dancing, was traveling with a group of 22 female students and two teachers from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
She said no one in the dance class at the Sichuan Music Conservatory in Chengdu was injured, but she and other American students had difficulty sleeping that night as they camped outside the dance building, afraid to sleep in any structure.
"There were just a lot of people camping outside in tents," she said.
The earthquake, about 7.9 in magnitude, occurred Monday afternoon (Sunday evening, Hawaii time) and shook Chengdu city, about 50 miles southeast of the epicenter.
Bowers said there were cracks in the conservatory building, but she didn't see any collapsed buildings or anyone injured as a result of the earthquake.
Bowers said she and other students were nervous about going back into the building but eventually resumed their classes there.
She said the news reports in China kept warning people about impending aftershocks that never occurred.
"It was just nerve-wracking," she said.
Bowers said she and students and two teachers from Brigham Young University were moving out of Chengdu city to go to a different province today.
The group was scheduled to leave Chengdu on May 23, but because of the earthquake, the group cut short their stay and was moving 124 miles southeast to Guiyang city in Guizhou Province.
Bowers said the young Chinese men who were acting as guides took care of the students and ran upstairs to the dance studio during the earthquake to make sure they were all right.
"The Chinese people have been very nice to us and worried about our safety," she said.
Bowers, who plans to return with the group to the United States on June 14, said she spent about a year and a half in Chile as a missionary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and experienced some earthquakes there, but none like the one in China this week.
"This was a real earthquake," she said.