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San Antonio, Wuxi students exchange messages of hope, support

When coronavirus started spreading in China, San Antonio sent messages of encouragement. Now, those students are returning the gesture with a donation of masks.

SAN ANTONIO — Students in Wuxi, China sent a message of support and 4,000 masks to help with the fight against the spread of coronavirus, after San Antonio nonprofit Summer of Service volunteers sent their own cards of encouragement months ago.

San Antonio-based nonprofit Summer of Service engages students with service projects and connects them to global learning. The pandemic prompted travel restrictions, they currently aren't able to go abroad but are continuing to serve their mission however possible.

Summer of Service Director Amir Samandi says in 2016, SOS partnered with San Antonio's sister city, Wuxi, for exchange programs. Thirty San Antonio students and 4 educators traveled to Wuxi, and students from Wuxi visited the Alamo City. 

"Those bonds and relationships have stayed strong, just ordinary people connecting across the planet," Samandi said.

When coronavirus started spreading in China, students wanted to do what they could to help.

"We were trying to send them letters of encouragement but also, students here wanted to save money to help China," Samandi said. "That was early in the year; we didn’t expect this to go so global and affect us how it has."

Now, with San Antonio continuing its fight against coronavirus, the students' friends in Wuxi sent their own message of support and 4,000 masks. 

"We’ve been able to go over there and interact and see the hearts of people in China, who have been very kind, very warm with us, opened their hearts to us and we’ve opened our homes to them," Samandi said. "The kids that came to stay with me called me dad and were like dad, can we go see the Spurs?"

Samandi hopes seeing their message of kindness will resonate with San Antonians.

"At the end of the day- yeah, we have differences, but there’s so much that unites us. We all love our family, we all want to have a good job and good life and no one wants COVID to be there, hurting our families and lives," Samandi said. "It’s important to look at people for who they are and be kind and compassionate to your neighbor and know your neighbor- and your neighbor might be halfway around the world."

To learn more about Summer of Service, click here