BEIJING, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- A dozen college students in Zhengzhou have pledged to book 200 hotel rooms so the families of migrant workers can come together for the Chinese Valentine's Day, or Qixi Festival, which falls on Aug. 23 this year.
The idea came to the 12 undergraduates majoring in construction and engineering at Zhengzhou Jiaotong University after they finished a month-long part-time job at a construction site, where they worked with migrant laborers every day.
"The living conditions of migrant laborers are really tough. They eat from lunchboxes at the construction site and sleep in a bunkhouse with dozens of fellow workers," said Wang Xuhui, one of the 12 students.
Many migrants have to be away from their families while they make their livings in cities, sometimes even for years, said Wang.
"We want to provide a more comfortable environment for the migrants to unite and spend the festival with their spouses or other family members," Wang said.
But he said the primary purpose of the "novel" act is to draw more attention to the status of migrant laborers, especially among those capable of helping them, like hotel owners.
The total cost of renting the rooms is estimated to hit 18,000 yuan (2,840 U.S. dollars). The students earned about 12,000 yuan through their part-time construction site job, and the rest came from the money for living expenses the students receive from their parents.
Wang said they chose to rent the rooms on Chinese Valentine's Day to make their action more meaningful as well as bring more attention to the traditional Chinese festival of love.
Since extending their offer online on Thursday, only 10 migrant workers have contacted them to apply for the free rooms.
This may be because few migrant laborers use the Internet, said Fu Haipeng, another student involved in the plan.
"And many migrants don't believe it. They think it's just a pie in the sky," Fu said.
These students have begun to distribute a written proposal and "recruit" migrant workers in construction sites.
Meanwhile, the students' plan has stirred debate online, with thousands of netizens praising the loving hearts of the young generation.
"That's a romantic Qixi gift for migrants. I'm so happy that the college students feel such social responsibility," netizen "Yingyingji" wrote on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese Twitter-like microblog service.
But some questioned the feasibility of the plan and wrote it off as online hype.
"It's completely unfeasible for a separated couple, the round-trip ticket is much more expensive than the room fee. Why don't you college student concentrate on your own studies," "Minwangzi" commented on Weibo.
When told about the act, a Beijing-based migrant worker surnamed Tan expressed gratitude for the 12 students. But he said he has gotten used to the rough accommodations at construction sites and is too shy to participate in this kind of "romantic" activity.
Wang and Fu said said their starting point is simple and pure, and they will go through with their plan no matter how many migrants respond.
"If there is money left over after the festival, we will use it to buy phone cards to give out to migrant workers, so they can communicate more with their faraway families," said Wang.