American English Teacher Brutally Murdered in Guangzhou, China My son, Darren Russell, and I were always extremely close. We were alike is so many ways. We both had a passion for teaching, love of children and animals, integrity and respect for diverse people, appreciated nature, and compassion for humanity. His friends said they never saw him as happy as when he was teaching in China. He loved both the country and its people. His brutal murder on April 14, 2005 changed my life forever. You can read more about the details on his website: www.whiterabbitsmom.org. I have also set up a site to prevent further killings in China at: www.teachinginchina.net. He would be alive today if only one of the 43 American staff or 170 Chinese staff would have taken the 30 minutes to come to his aide and bring him to safety after he was robbed. He begged the U.S. Consulate for help for they did nothing. Hours before his murder, he left a chilling message on my husband’s cell phone saying, “I am so scared. I need to get out of here. I have never been this scared in my entire life.” This was from someone who did bungee jumping, hot air ballooning, flew with pilots in World War II planes, and traveled to 38 countries alone with a backpack.
The first few months after Darren’s murder I was numb and in shock. But then I tried to think of positive ways to honor my son’s memory and inspire others to change the world as he tried to. I did a Memory Book with the help of his university, a DVD, and a white rabbit card (His Chinese name was Bai-Tu or White Rabbit). I started a petition drive to push for a Congressional hearing. I am trying to get the American Federation of Teachers to draft a resolution regarding American teachers in China. I am trying to find answers why the FBI was not involved not only in bringing his body home, but investigating his murder. I was always a counselor, but after the murder I took 180 hours of classes to become a grief counselor. I am now screening for Grief Education Support Groups (for other parents of homicide victims) which will be offered for free on Thursday evenings in North Hollywood. I also will have a web site soon for Grief and Mourning.
They say that losing a child is like having a leg amputated. You are forever changed. You can never be the same person as before. Having a child murdered and a sudden death complicates the grieving even more. But the person I have become is determined to honor my son’s memory, be more compassionate, and make a difference in this world.
Remember to treat each day as if it may be your last. Give your loved ones extra hugs. Appreciate the beauty around you. Know you can be a positive force for change and make this world a better place.
Maxine Russell (E-mail: [email protected])