Nearly a week after its takeoff, the whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are still unknown, despite aggressive search efforts by a dozen countries, making it one of the most baffling mysteries in modern aviation.
A USC grad named Qiao Xing, 27, is among the 239 people on board who are now missing. Xing landed a job at Shell Oil Company in Beijing last year after she got a master's degree in petroleum engineering at USC.
The plane, a Boeing 777, disappeared last Saturday two hours after it departed Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. As families anxiously await news of the missing airplane, the Chinese community at USC has taken to social media to pray for Xing.
Xing uses her English name, Joy Xing, for Facebook.
"Pray for MH370, and pray for our sister Joy Xing!" Serena Yali Chen wrote on her Facebook page March 8.
Qi Li, a friend and a second-year graduate student majoring in petroleum engineering at USC, wrote on his Facebook page, "I hope it is really not you! Pray for my senior colleague sister Joy Xing! Hope everyone is safe on MH370!"
Li remembered Xing as "outgoing" and "fun to talk to."
"She speaks perfect English," he says. "She was always glad to help others. I admire her many talents and abilities."
Li said he and his friends at first wasn't sure the name "Qiao Xing" on Malaysia Airlines' passenger manifest was the "Qiao Xing" they knew (as the manifest listed only the passengers' name and birth date), until they read a Chinese news article published later with more details of passengers on the flight.
The entry about Xing in the article reads, "Xing Qiao, born in 1987, female, originally from Harbin, graduated from Jilin University, studied at the University of Southern California for master's, currently works at Shell."
Friends of Xing confirmed that the description in the Chinese article matches her, in addition to Xing's birth date on the passenger manifest of MH370 made public by the Malaysia Airlines.
Xing speaks three languages: Mandarin Chinese, English and Spanish. She currently works as a reservoir engineer at Shell. During her time at USC, she worked as a cashier at USC Bookstores and as a customer service representative at USC Housing, according to her LinkedIn page.
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The Chinese Students and Scholars Association of USC posted on its Facebook page Thursday, saying it has confirmed withthe Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Los Angeles that USC alumna Qiao Xing, Class of 2012, was on Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight.
Lusha Li, head of media relations of China and North Asia of Shell Oil Company, tells L.A. Weekly she couldn't confirm the name of its employee on MH370: "What I can only confirm is one of our employees was on the Malaysian Airlines MH370 flight. I can't confirm other information without the parents' permission."
The majority of passengers on the missing plane were Chinese. There were three Americans were on board, including two children: Yan Zhang, 2 and Nicole Meng, 4. No details are available as to whom they were traveling with. The third American was Philip Wood, 51, an IBM employee from Texas.