Digital Chinese Take Out for the Expat's SoulPosts RSS Comments RSS

Archive for the 'Yangshuo China' Category

China’s Children of Glass

A friend from Shanghai just returned from Yangshuo one of the most enchanted areas on the planet. He told me he had met Chun Li on New Years Eve and while impressed with her as a powerful, positive person he did not know her history until I sent him this link from months ago…..Time to re-post it then, I think:

Then I first heard of Zhao Chun Li, I didn’t know what the fuss was all about. I had been told that she had brittle bone disease (OI) and was working at the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat as the Front Desk Supervisor. I thought to myself, Yes, this is a great story about overcoming adversity. And spectacular that she’s capable of working in a business setting. But, I cynically considered optioning the story and selling it to Hallmark.

But as I learned more about this woman, born on Christmas Day, I soberly realized just how startlingly powerful her story really was.

Chun Li

Chun Li’s message lies in the details. That Chun Li (Spring Beauty in Chinese) knows how to speak and write in perfect Mandarin is was somewhat interesting. That she was not able to walk to school because of fragile, easily broken bones and later taught herself to read and write Chinese sparked interest. And that years later, having never left her small fishing village in Guanxi, China, she would teach herself English with a little help from Chris Barclay (the man who founded ALTEC and The China-U.S. Medical Foundation) starts to spin a gripping tale of courage.

China can be an unfriendly place for people with hadicaps: they often are not allowed to attend school and are often left out of the mainstream of society. Because of cultural differences, Barclay did met Chun Li while acting as an interpreter for President Clinton’s visit to her home town a few years back. Chun Li had been ordered to stay shut in so Clinton would get a idyllic picture of life in rural China: a vision free of medically challenged villagers. Clinton later learned of Chun Li’s confinement and sent her a letter and autographed picture which she proudly displays at the retreat.

Chun Li’s first journey outside her village was to Los Angeles: When Chun needed medical evaluation and surgery—the kind of evaluation that a Western hospital could provide—Chris Barclay stepped in and raised the funds to allow Chun Li to travel to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Chun Li, braved the transcontinental journey, underwent surgery for a painful cataract, and returned to China. She is virtually self-sufficient: though she requires her mother’s help on a daily basis for some simple tasks, she supports herself with her income from working at the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat. She was the inspiration for the building of the retreat and a personal transformation by Barclay that he is chronicling in an upcoming book about Chun Li called Frog in the Well: The Tao of Possibility.

Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

The Mountain Retreat at Yangshuo

mountain-retreat-front-door.jpg

With the spirit of Chun Li’s optimism and strength guiding him, Chris Barclay had a new vision—he knew he could help needy children, young men and women get treatment for their condition by setting up a charity to help collect and organize financial and educational support. In 2002, he created the China-US Medical Foundation, and to this date, the charity has helped dozens of children of glass get the medicine, medical diagnosis, and surgery they were denied at the time in China. None of this would be possible without the dedication of Barclay and the vigor of Chun Li.

In the end, I’ve realized Chun Li’s story isn’t meant to be a tearjerker. It’s a courage-jerker—drawing on the best in her and calling out strength in the people around her, summoning reserves that make a world a better place. Instead of walking away from Chun Li’s story with a feel-good, TV moment, I walked away with a story about how the power of optimism, as exemplified by our Spring Beauty, and the Tao of possibility that can forever change people’s lives.

Chun Li

Chun Li at the Mountain Retreat where visitors from around the world have come to love and admire her, not for her conquest of OI, but for her extraordinary wisdom and positive nature.

By David DeGeest with Lonnie Hodge

Asia,China Editorials,China Photos,China-US Medical Foundation,Confucius Slept Here,Intercultural Issues,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,Yangshuo China,中国

7 responses so far

Transcending Dental Medication in China

A few weeks ago I was in magical Guanxi province to visit with the the unbreakable Chun Li. During my visit I had, not one, but two fillings, put in during my time in the military, decide to abandon their posts–one on either side of my mouth. I went on a sudden food fast because it was impossible to eat. With several days left before I could leave Yangshuo for Guangzhou I headed straight to the local hospital. Everyone there was friendly enough. The dentist had her grandson assisting.

China Dentist

The Dental Clinic was on the second floor and all you had to do to find it was follow the smell of the bathroom, sans doors, next to my treatment room.

Dental Tools

The franken-lab tools and mixtures did not bother me nearly as much as having to rinse and then spit into a tiny trash can. I am not nearly as accurate at expectorating as the average Chinese, so I ended the session looking as though my sleeves had been been mauled by a St. Bernard.

So, the old joke goes:

Q: Why did the guru refuse Novacaine when he went to his dentist?

A: He wanted to transcend dental medication.

Sorry…

Well, I did not get the option of Novacaine. For the 70 Yuan ( $8.40) the visit cost me I had to make due with clove oil built into the filling material.

I still have horribly minty fresh breath and everything tastes like an Easter ham.

And no, I don’t know the onlooker here:

Chinese Dentist

And yes, I am feeling much better now:

Toothless Chinese man

Photos by Ms Bolly

Asia,China Expats,China Humor,China Photos,Chinese Medicine,Confucius Slept Here,Humor,Intercultural Issues,Personal Notes,Photos,Travel in China,Yangshuo China,中国

4 responses so far

China Photo Contest

fotolia_1684848.jpg

Have picture of the Middle Kingdom you like and want to share with the world?

OMBW will sponsor a contest that will run all year and culminate in a coffee table book that will raise funds for China charities and the Literacy Group The Reading Tub.

It is simple:

Send your best shot of people, places or events in China to: dreamblogue@gmail.com with the information required below. We will post several shots, once a week, on OMBW and on http://blogof dreams.com where you and your friends can vote for your favorites. The top 250 will make it into the book. There is NO entry fee.

There will be prizes, yet to be decided, for the winners, links back to blogs or sites if requested, contributor copies of the coffee table book. All rights are returned to the creator upon publication and you are free to multiple submit your work to other sites, magazines or contests. First prize in each division will be an expense paid week on the road with Yanzhi and Dawei and the Dreanblogue Team during their charity and friendship tour of China

Ideally there will be three divisions:

Hobby Photographer: You take pictures for personal enjoyment and you have a shot that you would like to share with the world

yangshuo

Amateur: You aspire to be professional and have a bit more experience or training than do most of us in the amateur ranks

heart on

Professional: You get paid for your work, but are willing to share it with us at OMBW and the Dreablogue so we can raise a few dollars for charity

great-wall-1.jpg

We will try to post new pictures once a week on Friday. The rules:

Make the photos as Web-friendly as possible: No more than 450 Pixels wide please. If you win we will ask for the high resolution file.

Include the following information with your email:

  • Real name
  • Division
  • Province where picture was taken
  • Name of Photo as you want it in the ALT tag
  • Your location and email (not to be published)
  • Your desired screen name for voting and picture tags
  • A short statement giving us permission to place the picture on OMBW and The China Dreamblogue during 2006-7
  • Your blog or website URL, if there is one, to which we should link the photos

There is no limit to the number of photos you can submit….
Look for the first photos next week!

Charity in China,China Expats,China Photos,China web 2.0,Chinese Internet,Chinese Media,Expats,Greater Asia Blogs,Heartsongs,Hong Kong Blogs,Intercultural Issues,New Blogs,Photo Contest,Photos,Search Engine Marketing,SEM,SEO,Seo China,Teaching in China,The Great Wall,The Internet,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,Tibet,Top Blogs,Top China Blogs List,Travel in China,Yangshuo China,中国,中文

3 responses so far

Wishes, Lies and Schemes of Social Commitment in China, Part I

one-drop.gif

There is a school in America that maintains an “Office of Social Commitment.” Ostensibly, the office is charged with, in part, sending bright, globally aware scholars to regions that can develop and utilize their youthful enthusiasm. Ideally this fosters the “fellows” acquisition of information about local culture and accords them skill building opportunities that can be transferred back to America or generously subsumed into future professional choices.

Here is the rub: The four fellows who come from that particular school are sent to work in two institutions: One is in Macau and the and other is in Nanjing. The former is a third-tier private, for-profit school with most students coming from well-heeled families, and the latter is an elite prep’ school. The fellows in Macau are simply handed a teaching schedule and sent off, without any preparation, to face the Great Wall of Student Silence that is built into most Chinese classrooms. Attempting to scale the Great Wall can repel veteran teachers and injure novices and journeyman alike if they are not well equipped. Chinese administrations will not help teachers to adjust as they have little time and patience for new and, well, expendible teachers. I watched two “fellows” suffer emotional melt-downs (they are somewhat fine now) because they received little or no responsible assistance to problems from their “commitment” office or their Chinese work-site. It seems that social commitment is only an external consideration and does not apply to working field staff.

Dostoevsky wrote: “As a general rule people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are too.” Sadly, that used to reflect my world view, but living in China among opportunistic and the ill-intentioned, posing as humanitarians, has altered my thinking. The head of the aforementioned social commitment office has in his website bio’ a telling metaphor: He ends his long list of organizational memberships and awards (Surely proof he is a good guy) with the announcement that he is adopting an Asian child. The child has no name, no history mentioned and upon close examination seems to be there only to add credence to the director’s bid for earthly sainthood–along with his being a “living kidney donor.”

In Nanjing the fellows are a bit better off, but are as essential to the fulfillment of ideologically meaningful goal as an i-Pod in the Gucci bag of an Orange County co-ed. This isn’t the community building your hippie dad knew in the Peace Corps of the seventies when he dug wells and irrigation ditches alongside poor farmers. The only holes that are dug in the examples mentioned are the emotional ones, like above, that once idealistic fellows will spend years extricating themselves from. The Chinese students at both of these schools, while lamenting environmental issues and social ills in the mainland, often come from families that work in government or head up companies that are part-and-parcel of troubling environmental issues and in financial charge of workers that increasingly need more attention than their designer clothed school children.

When I recommended possible educational agencies that might really benefit from the investment of a young foreign teacher, or schools where poor children may never have seen an outsider like those served by Volunteer English Teachers, I was told that it was just too much trouble to negotiate acceptable new contracts. Since when did social commitment get easy?

If you are headed here to help make sure you have the training and support you need to embark on your journey. And be sure you are not just part of your own or someone else’s need to uphold the appearance of humanitarian interests.

In the next installment I will be looking at NGOs, and Missionary Groups operating in Macau and the Mainland…

Coming:

Addicted to Mediocriy II and Dreams, Repression and Violence II….I lost many follow-ups in the server crash and am now reconstructing…

cartoons,Charity in China,China Cartoons,China Editorials,China-US Medical Foundation,Confucius Slept Here,Expats,Heartsongs,Human Rights,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Macau,Macau University of Science and Technology,Personal Notes,Teaching in China,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,Top Blogs,Travel in China,Yangshuo China,中国

2 responses so far

A Chinese New Year Resolution: Teach in China

Guest Post by David DeGeest

“In China many families live in extreme poverty. This is especially true of the mountain villages of the Guilin/Yangshuo area of Guangxi Province where many farm families live a meager existence on a bit of land. They struggle to pay the school fees for their children to go to the local elementary school.”

–from the Volunteer English Teaching Program

 

China teems with travel wonders and travel woes. I had made plans with friends to head to Vietnam for the Chinese New Year and ended up, because of visa troubles, in Yangshuo, Guanxi province, home of the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat and the unbreakable Chun Li.

Yangshuo

While the trip was a cascade of logistic mishap after mishap, the beauty of the karsts and the uniqueness of the people I met–from a Guangzhou leather factory owner to a crew of Dutch HKU students–all gave me reason to be thankful for my fiasco.

During my stay in Yangshuo, I had the good fortune to meet Laurie Mackenzie, a man who, like me, is an accidental expat: he decided to come to China on little more than a whim. A retired professor and former officer in the Canadian army, he’s been here for five years building a network of schools and volunteers to help poor villagers and children learn English skills. But he is not on a mission of religion, Americanization, or exploitation–he is on a mission of heart.

Laurie MacKenzie

Yangshuo is dense with tourists almost year-round, and its offers of spectacular scenery, excellent mountain climbing and hiking trails, and good-quality, inexpensive food and lodging draw tourists not just from China but all over the world. By offering economically diasadvantaged children and families English lessons and opportunities for sometimes-shy Chinese children and adults to interact with foreigners, MacKenzie opens up economic possibilities for these families and children. MacKenzie also works tirelessly to secure donations that allow for these students to purchase the basic resources they need for school–pens, paper, books, and other supplies. “Poor schools do not have resource materials,” says MacKenzie on the Volunteer English Teachers website. “Classroom equipment is a sheet of plywood painted black and some coloured chalk. It is often impossible for parents to buy the note books, pencils etc. that every pupil needs.” MacKenzie, his wife, and his volunteer staff of Anglophones from around the world do everything they can to help these motivated children realize their potential.

VET Chinese Child Choir

Children at the VET schools learn oral English through games, songs, and activities like choirs (as seen above). I end this article with some words from MacKenzie about why he chose to begin this work and why he continues:

“The cycle of poverty can only be broken through education. Poor peasant farmers struggle to pay the annual school fees for their children to go to primary school but very, very few can afford the higher costs of sending the children to Junior Middle School or beyond. We know that if the children can learn to be comfortable with foreign visitors and speak some English they will be able to get work. Volunteer English Teachers are committed to helping these children realize a better future. “

Asia,China Editorials,China Expats,Chinese New Year,Expats,Holidays,Personal Notes,Teaching in China,Yangshuo China,中国

No responses yet

Sick Day

Sick in China

I will be in bed for the next 48 hours…Out of the reach of a keyboard….

In the interim here is some pic’s of one of our “Fellows” this term…let’s call it, “You know you have been a China expat too long when…”:

You can actually look contemplative wearing a garland…

David DeGeest in wonderland

When you break into a Travolta song from Saturday Night Fever because you actually bought it for 100 yuan less than the storekeeper wanted…

DeGeest as John Travolta

YOU actually believed that you kept drinking Guinness ‘casue you claimed you would look really, really, realy good in the “free hat after six pints”….Really!

David O'Leary DeGeest\

Back with SEO info’ soonish…If the Leprechaun above doesn’t murder me first….

OMBW

China Expats,China Humor,Expats,Humor,Personal Notes,Photos,Travel in China,Yangshuo China,中国

No responses yet

IF A HORSE DIES THEN YOU HAVE TO WALK: CHINA’S “CANCER” VILLAGES AND THE CHOPSTICK TAX 马死落地行*

I was in mystical Yangshuo, China not long ago (post to follow in a day or two) and was deeply troubled by the unfettered growth in the region. Toilets emptied directly into the clear water of the Li River and I imagined it would soon be like the dark Pearl River in industrial Guangzhou. Last year 5 of my students were diagnosed with a variety of cancers; none of them is older than 22.

Close to Guangzhou is Dongguan. It is, like Shenzhen, a very new city populated by migrants from the North of China looking for greener, albeit toxic, pastures:

URBAN PLANNING
I was never so glad to get back to Guangzhou as the day after I visited Dongguan, China. And Guangzhou’s sky has an aversion itself to letting the sun shine. Dongguan is a huge city with natural and man-made amenities inversely proportional to the pollution. Even the countryside smells like the back-end of a bus.
Continue Reading »

Asia,Cancer Journal,China Business,China Cartoons,China Editorials,Environment,Guangzhou China,Yangshuo China,中国

6 responses so far