During my summer trips to Shimenkan, I was able to explore and view the current state of the village from my own perspective. The experience was definitely special and seeing the actual village made it easier to learn about the history. For a large portion of the semester, I’ve been studying the history of Shimenkan and I explored topics like poverty, the value of charity, charity and more. Continue reading
Before making the subject switch from Spain to South America, Dan and I spent this week reading and discussing soccer in the world and the effects of globalization on modern soccer. We used two different chapters from Goles y banderas: futbol e identidades nacionales en España by Alejandro Quiroga Fernandez de Soto, the same book we used to discuss identities in Spain. Continue reading
For our last week of studying Spanish soccer and culture, T.Dan and I read and discussed two different chapters from a book discussing soccer identities in both Catalonia and País Vasco. Goles y banderas: futbol e identidades nacionales en España by Alejandro quiroga fernandez de soto, is the name of the book, written entirely in Spanish. Continue reading
With no doubt, the work Pollard did had a lasting impact on the community of Shimenkan. The village of Shimenkan would still be poor and isolated without Pollard’s influence from the last century. The major reason why the Chinese government invested so much money on this village is to control the Christian influence. As a way to show power, the government used the money in building infrastructure to show the villagers that the government can bring a better life than Christianity. Continue reading
In the week of October 2nd after my teaching experience, T.Dan and I could not ignore the events in Catalonia surrounding the referendum for independence. I did my own research on the subject, bringing articles to Dan for discussion. There were a plethora of things to talk about, including the Spanish police’s acts of violence in attempts to stop people from voting, as well as how likely is it that Catalonia will ultimately declare independence. If you are unaware of the situation currently in Catalonia, I will give a brief synopsis before diving into the significance of it as well as my conclusions on how it relates to soccer.
On October 1st polls were opened in the region of Catalonia for its citizens to vote on whether they were for or against declaring independence from Spain. The Spanish government and its officials have rules this referendum illegal and against the Spanish constitution. On the day of the referendum many Catalan citizens were violently prevented from voting by the Spanish police force. Many leaders in the Catalan government were also arrested by the Spanish police.
In the following days many different officials on both sides have reported on the referendum, Spain maintaining their stance that it is illegal and will not be acknowledged. Catalan people and government officials have pleaded with other European countries as well as the EU for support in their fight for independence. The reported statistic on the vote count was 90% of people able to vote, voting for independence, and 10% against.
It is clear that the Catalan identity is strong throughout the whole region and now more than ever, the Catalan people are proudly fighting for their cultural, economic, and regional independence. The aftermath of the October 1st vote date has been sticky, and yet to be resolved. So it is hard to say how significant the referendum is yet, but regardless of the outcome, it is clear that Catalonia is its own country, recognized or not.
The police violence against voters was horrific, rubber bullets and excessive force were used during large pro independence rallies. 822 Catalonians were placed in the hospital from the violence. Using both Spanish sources and sources around the world to understand the reaction of this violence was fascinating. A CNBC article quoted Jordi Turull, a Catalan official as saying, “what the police are doing is simply savage, it’s an international scandal.” While Spanish sources based in Madrid have shown a different light, ignoring the police violence and focusing on the breach of the Spanish constitution.
While this was big international news and unignorable, it was less significant to our study of soccer and more to the world that soccer lives in. As a result of this referendum and violence FC Barcelona played their La Ligament match against Las Palmas in front of an empty stadium.
In the interest of getting back on track with our study of soccer, Dan and I planned readings for the following week in a book from the library about identities of both FC Barcelona and Atheltic Club Bilbao. Barcelona’s identity is strong and only getting stronger, and the historical context of the biggest representation of the region in the world, FC Barcelona, is one Dan and I were excited to explore.
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 villagers can build more wealth on their own.
This picture was taken in the early days of Pollard’s arrival. I found this picture in the Shimenkan gallery.
Last week I was tasked with both preparing a lesson for T.Dan’s Spanish 2 classes and writing an argumentative essay.
For my lesson I decided I wanted to teach the class about País Vasco, one of the regions in Spain that I have been studying. Continue reading
In my previous blogs, I mentioned many times the concept of establishing a Sister County agreement between two places. However, I haven’t had a chance to talk about what a Sister County relationship is, the representation behind it, and the effect. So, my blog this week will focus on “What is a Sister County” and some updates on Commissioner Terrence Farrell’s upcoming trip to China. Continue reading
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
My original plan for this week’s blog is to focus on the sister county initiative between Chester County and Yanqing District. However, since that part is mainly logistics and might appear to be boring, I decided to focus this week’s blog on my meeting with the congressman, Ryan Costello. Continue reading