Author Archives: perlinefeng

The value of money

How much has changed in Shimenkan since Pollard’s arrival?

How much has changed in Shimenkan since the Chinese government started their reconstruction work?

The answer to the first question is A LOT, but the answer to the second question can be both a lot and very little.

When Pollard first arrived at Shimenkan, he had no money. As a religious missionary, he had hope and a plan to do his work in the village. Without money, he couldn’t buy land from the villagers or the local government. However, he made a deal with the landlord. He asked for “some land that is only worth one whole piece of calfskin”. The landlord was confused, but he thought a full piece of calfskin is barely anything, so he said yes to Pollard’s request. That night, he cut up a whole piece of calfskin into thin strips and sewed them together into a long line. The next day, when he met with the landlord to take the land, he rounded up enough land to build a church with the strip of calfskin. With some villagers’ help, a church was built. In the beginning, the church served both as a school and a church. As time went, the first school and the first hospital was built at Shimenkan.

Three years ago, the Chinese government started to reform areas that are in poverty. Shimenkan was listed under one of the targeted rural villages in the “help the poor” project in China. In the whole process, the government invested over 10 BILLION Yuan on this small village. New apartment-style houses were built, and the village is physically connected with roads. However, even with the new houses and the roads, villagers here are still trapped in poverty. The government doesn’t seem to understand that the real way to improve these people’s lives is to teach them how to fish, not just give them the fish. From the physical appearance, Shimenkan has changed much more than what Pollard had done. However, what the village really needs is education that will provide them a chance and the ability to connect with the outside world.

 

With little money and resource, Pollard built a church, a school and a hospital that really improved people’s quality of life. With more than enough money, the government only helped the village on the most basic level. I hope that the government can see that it is the education system that needs to be improved so the villages can build more wealth on their own.

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This picture was taken in the early days of Pollard’s arrival. I found this picture in the Shimenkan gallery.

History of Culture – Perline

I’ve been reading about the history of the Shimenkan village for the past week, and I also organized my notes from the interviews I conducted over the summer.

The minority Miao came to this isolated village to avoid conflict with other minorities that lived in Southern China. Over time, their culture was passed on generation after generation. Before Christianity came to the village, the Miao minority mostly believed in folk religion. Continue reading

Poverty trap and Christianity – Perline

FullSizeRender(I took this picture when I visited the village’s local school and this is a renovated building)

One of the biggest differences between the United States and China is how the urban and rural environment develop. In the United States, even in the very remote areas like a little town in Vermont, people’s living conditions are generally good. However, in China, the countryside is poor and extremely undeveloped. It is extremely difficult to improve people’s quality of life because they are trapped in poverty. Low-income families remain poor generation after generation. Due to the lack of education, these families can only work the low-skill, low-wage jobs. With such low income, families can only afford the basics of life, and education seems to be a luxury. Without education, the poverty trap simply becomes a downward spiral that doesn’t seem to end. Continue reading

First blog – Perline

For my independent research seminar this year, I’m looking at a small Christian village in China and the political influence around it. I began this research project last summer. Because Christianity is not the dominant religion in China, it is not very common for an undeveloped village to have Christianity as their dominant religion. The name of this village is Shimenkan. I took my first trip there in the summer of 2016. I was shocked when I arrived; I thought I had traveled 40 years back in history. The houses people lived in did not have running water! A small number of the houses had electricity. This summer  when I got to the main street of the village, all the buildings on the street were under construction. After I did some research, I found out that the Chinese government had invested 80 billion yuan (Chinese currency $1= 6.46 yuan) in this tiny village for reconstruction purposes. One year later the main street looks much nicer, wider and more modern. In just two years, the government has had a significant impact on the village both culturally and financially. 

Continue reading