In April, Assistant Professor of Instruction Di Liu received a box of face masks from his family in China. The box had approximately 500 surgical masks and 25 KN95 masks. Though masks were not yet mandatory in Philadelphia, Liu and his wife, Chenxing Zheng, decided to donate a couple hundred masks to a local hospital. The remaining masks were divided up between friends and colleagues.

Their generosity did not stop there. Liu reached out to Dean Anderson asking if he or anyone he knew was in need of facemasks. Dean Anderson suggested Liu send a message to the College of Education and Human Development faculty and staff who were working from home and might want masks to do their grocery shopping and engage in their community. 

"I replied to Dean Anderson's suggestion and said 'yes' immediately. Who would turn down an opportunity to do something for his/her college and colleagues, especially at this difficult time?" said Liu.

Approximately 1,000 masks were requested by the college community. To fulfil the large request, Liu turned to his wife, who works in the pharmaceutical industry and had been working closely with local groups to get Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses at hospitals. Through her connections in China, Liu was able to reach out to a manufacturer, who wished to remain anonymous, and place an order.

"The manufacturer suggested that we keep the total number below 1,000 because it was believed that a smaller package might go through the customs check faster," said Liu. 

New guidelines and restrictions on exports of medical equipment, at the time, threatened a delay in the masks arrival to the U.S. Fortunately, Liu and his wife were able to use a local logistic company to assist with the export and shipment of the face masks.

"Quality control is another aspect that we spent a lot of time on," said Liu. "The face masks are used to protect people's lives and we had to make sure that they were good quality. Again, I would like to thank my wife, Chenxing Zheng, for helping me to review the products from different manufacturers, contacting and communicating with them and ensuring that the masks that we acquired were high-quality ones."

Throughout the acquisition journey, Liu said he received tremendous help from the college's faculty and staff. Without this, he says, the project would not have gone as far as it did. 

"In a difficult time like this, I really feel like we are holding each other's hands and nothing shall stop us from moving forward," said Liu. "As Dean Anderson wrote in one of his encouraging and enlightening emails to us, 'together, we shall not only overcome these dangerous times, but also serve as a guiding beacon for others to follow.'"

The College of Education and Human Development thanks Professor Di Liu and his wife, Chenxing Zheng, for their support in acquiring face masks for college faculty and staff.