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Sunday, December 08, 2013

Westporter Aids Philippine Relief Effort

(Editor’s note: On Nov. 8, Typhoon Yolanda, the most powerful storm ever recorded, hit the Philippines. Westporter Marshall Mayer was living in Beijing where he had moved to improve his Chinese language skills. Over the next few weeks, he and the executives of a travel agency organized what has been called the first ever crowd-sourced relief effort. Mayer, 22, is in charge of coordinating volunteers from all over the globe who are traveling to Bantayan Island to rebuild schools. Bantayan, home to more than 100,000 persons, was nearly wiped out by the storm. You can follow Mayer’s blog at www.MarshallPolo.com.

By Marshall Mayer

It’s been a hectic month.

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Team leaders (l-r) Captain Joseph Ferris III. Christopher P. White, and Marshall Mayer brief the Young Pioneer Disaster Response Team while en route to Cebu City by ferry. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

I had been living in a two-floor apartment in Beijing. My friend Jonas set me up on a couch there when I arrived. Before long, I was just a wall-fly, having pitched my tent on that tiny red couch with peeling fake leather bits that got stuck to any available fabric.

Jonas and his roommate Katy live on the first floor. The second floor is owned by Young Pioneer Tours, which uses it as a staging ground for its employees on either end of tours that start out of Beijing.

Through this serendipitous connection, I became acquainted to the YPT crowd over the past two months, and a few weeks ago I agreed to take over Katy’s room when she leaves for grad school at the end of this year. Then Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda hit on Nov. 8.

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