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
I have mentioned Commissioner Farrell many times in my previous blog. However, I have not had a chance to talk about my relationship with him, how I started this project and why I continue working on this.
I met Commissioner Farrell in 2014, before the start of my freshman year, during my visit to Westtown School. He is a friend of my guardian, who is my father’s classmate from HBS, and he currently lives in Havertown. We had dinner together at Iron Hill in West Chester. At that time, he briefly introduced Chester County to me and my parents. That dinner not only helped me to choose Westtown among other schools that accepted me but also laid a solid foundation for my work in Chester County commissioner’s office. Continue reading
As I mentioned in my previous blogs, Commissioner Terence Farrell just got back from his trip to China. To briefly summarize his visit, they had a very successful groundbreaking of the facility for the mushroom production and they also established a Sister County Municipality with Funan County. Below is a picture of the agreement signing. Click here to read more about their agreement! (As an FYI: you might need some translating tools. I wasn’t able to find the article in English- sorry!) 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
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.
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
(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
I had the honor of meeting one of the Chester County commissioners through my guardian the year I visited Westtown. Because of this connection I was able to create an internship for myself. Since the very end of my sophomore year, I started my internship in Chester County’s commissioner’s office. Most recently, I wanted to help a district in Beijing build connections with Chester County and possibly have some school exchange project. With this goal in mind, I visited Yanqing District in Beijing, China this summer. Yanqing District is located in the north-western part of Beijing. My primary goal visiting Yanqing was to follow-up on what was being discussed in May, 2017. Continue reading