Finding an NPR Listener in Sichuan : Chengdu Diary An NPR listeners finds himself working for an NGO in Tumen Township, Sichuan, a year after hearing Robert Siegel's report from a place just down the road.
NPR logo Finding an NPR Listener in Sichuan

Finding an NPR Listener in Sichuan

One of the most rewarding parts of this job is meeting people who say, "Oh, I heard those organic farmers talking about how they don't have health insurance..." or "I'll never forget that woman who said 'We are not refugees, we are survivors!'"

Well, we had a moment like that the other day when we met Lawrence Liang.

Lawrence Liang in the Tumen Township field office of Build Change. Andrea Hsu/NPR hide caption

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Andrea Hsu/NPR

Lawrence is the design team leader for Build Change, a non-profit that's helping rural families in Tumen Township build earthquake resistant homes. So he's looking at structural designs and materials, that sort of thing. He was born in China, moved to the US when he was 13, and graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in mechanical engineering. He'd been working in the aerospace field, and much of his work was on weapons programs. He told us he was getting tired of that and wanted to do something a little more positive, a little more fulfilling.

He was in the Bay area when the earthquake struck and says he heard our reporting from Sichuan, including a story about a doctor who lost his daughter in the quake.

"That was really a touching report," Lawrence told us the other day. "I guess that kind of influenced me to come to China in a way, to really see what happened here."

What Lawrence must have heard was Robert Siegel's story from Hanwang, which is only about fifteen or twenty miles from where Build Change is working now.