A recent Arizona State University graduate who grew up in Thousand Oaks -- and is now working abroad in the Jiangsu province of China -- has been dubbed "Brother Fries" by the locals.
Jason Loose, in his early 20s, was photographed on a Nanjing street corner while sharing his McDonald's French fries and bottled water with a barefoot homeless woman. The photos have since gone viral in China...
... sparking a movement to show more compassion toward those less fortunate.
"I just gave some food that isn't really even healthy to an old woman and talked with her for a few minutes," Loose tells the Los Angeles Times today. "I don't see much that's newsworthy about that."
The thousands of wannabe Good Samaritans that have since rallied around him might beg to differ.
According to the Times, the symbolic photos have been re-shared "hundreds of thousands of times" via social-networking site Weibo.com. And Loose's personal profile -- on which he calls himself "Los Angeles Lujie Sen" -- already has more than 10,000 fans.
Loose hosted an online Q&A a couple days ago, during which Weibo users had the chance to ask him questions about his good deed. He explained that when he saw the old woman on the street, he thought she looked very sad and lonely -- so why wouldn't he help her, if he had time to spare?
Curious minds asked him stuff like (excuse the terrible translation): "If China is to have many people willing to help like you, how does the general mentality need to change?" and "How do we find a solution to people being too scared to help others?" and "Would you do the same thing in the United States?"
Loose gets pretty wonky in his responses, citing various philosophers and the Industrial Revolution and stuff. It's worth a read, even through the kaleidoscope of Google Translate.
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We've contacted Loose for more on what he's been up to abroad. But on the ASU website, there's a photo of Loose teaching Chinese schoolchildren last summer. Its caption reads, "Jason Loose, a sustainability and Chinese major, learned about rural education in China, the problems it faces, and how it compares to education in China's urban areas and the United States."
[Update: A news site called Study in China reports that Loose "graduated from Arizona State University, in September last year, came to Nanjing University to participate in the pilot project of the Chinese in Nanjing, a sports brand company internship."]
And now that he's a total demi-god among the Chinese people, Loose is using his insta-celebrity to further another cause: He's leading an expedition to pick up trash on Purple Mountain this Saturday.