Thursday, August 14, 2008

Faces of China

This is a nation where the "community" is more important than the individual- unless you are in a minority tribe. If you are part of a minority you may keep your traditions and customs, but those tribes live in little tucked away places with no support and no government assistance, but they are (mostly) free of government education and it's policing methods.

Places to shop for clothes and such in a villiage like this are miles and miles away. Hand-me-downs are the norm.
Washing machines are not.
Schooling is handled by the elder women in the village and the children roam around in packs during free time. I saw little individual attention given to the kids but they seemed to be happy and thriving in their little groups. I'm positive if one child was harmed, or cried out in real pain, 15 people would have stepped away from their tasks to check on the one who was hurt.
This is a vastly different way of life for kids who live in the city, dress daily in uniforms, and go to school from 7 or 8 in the morning until 7 or 8 in the evening. 10 to 12 hours of education, not including home work, is not unusual for many Chinese children.

The Muslim population in China is growing, as is the Christian population, however Communism frowns on both (that's putting it mildly).

I was allowed a rare glimpse into a Muslim Mosque, and an even rarer glimpse of a young boy who was there with his father.

Only the unmarried women in this village were allowed to wear colorful clothes. Once married, the ladies have to settle for something more plain, like brown, or black, or gray.

This was the only disabled person I saw during my trip in China, and while this young man suffers from Down Syndrome, he seemed well fed and cared for. He was in the mountains
and belonged to a minority tribe influenced by a Christan missionary at the turn of the century.
If he had been born in a major city, or perhaps born in a hospital, I don't know if he would have survived. Children who are born blind, or deaf, are considered a drain on the "community" and sent away to underfunded and inadequate schools. It's easy to understand (with that mindset) the sacrifice of mentally handicapped children for the greater good (this is NOT my opinion however).
The little girl who sang the National anthem for the Olympics was not "cute" enough to represent the one can imagine the disgrace and burden of having a child with disabilities.
I simply loved something about this little one...she was so joyful!

Tried to hold this little guy- but he wanted nothing to do with me, except he was interested in my camera :)

Chinese Muslim Grandfather and grandson- we had dinner inside their home.
The coming generation in China has a lot to face. The children stand on the shore of the enlightening electronic age as it rushes towards them- with a government of guns and brain washing techniques standing firmly behind them while trying to control the tide. 50 years ago the people of China could be subdued by their government with torture, threats, and the manipulation of the media, but I think it becomes less effective each year as computers and the internet become more widely available. Even so, I realize the Chinese government greatly limits the information coming into, and going out of, the country.
Liberty, freedom, and a realization that each human is special and unique are delicious ideas, but rarely served or encouraged in this Asian nation. However, the Chinese people I met were curious about the lives of those outside their borders, and were gracious, beautiful, and eager to learn English.
Basic human curiosity coupled with an understanding of freedom and the ability to forge one's own path may some day be enough to dissolve the Communist government that exists today, but perhaps not.
Until then, the faces you've seen here, and the people of China you see on TV are under a rule of law which only deems them valuable as part of a group. The individual is not important. Keep that in mind the next time you see the little girl who ACTUALLY sang at the opening ceremonies...ooops-
wait- you probably won't see her to often.
Her face was not the one the Chinese government wanted you to see, and you can be sure she's not the only thing being "edited" for the airwaves.

Special thanks to "Iamnot" for being my inspiration for this post.


Anonymous said...

are cool
are still a bunch o' dorks

<3 to the mayden

¤ ¤ ¤


Gnomeself Be True said...

It's an incredible, ancient and rich culture...and it looks like it will never rid itself of totalitarianism.
What a shame for those kids.

X. Dell said...

As China's presence in our daily lives grows by the day and hour, it's good to hear the words of someone who's actually been there. Repression is still a major problem with the Chineese government, however. And learning through the computer/Internet is still rather difficult to do there.

Unknown said...

I wouldn't agree with the community over the individual idea. China has recently made rapid strides in economic terms not long before the political walk too starts.

Mayden' s Voyage said...

<3 to you /t :) I fully agree~

Mr. Iamnot- the kids were so great, and being an American (and blonde) was a novelty for them. I have never been better treated in my life. I wanted to take the women and the kids home with me, all of them...I ached when I left.

X- you are right. (And I will read the link you sent)- however, I was able to communicate info to my friends over there via email, and that kind of dialog is harder for the government to track, or stop. When the SARS scare happened several years ago, I gave my Chinese girlfriend more information (and sooner) than her government did. The more cultures intermix with China the better because the people will see there are other ways to live. Almost every young person I met wanted to come to the USA.

SJ- the issue of "community vs individual" was shocking to was so hard for me to get my mind around it. I think Americans often suffer from the opposite- but perhaps this is also what makes Americans more driven? I don't know. I loved China- I really did, but I had never truly valued being a citizen of the USA until I came home from that trip. It was a life-changing experience.

X. Dell said...

That's a good thing to know. I'm hoping that capacity lasts.

Aunty Belle said...

Mayden Fair, when was ya a' in China? Whata marvelous trip that must have been, Sugar Pie.

I reckon SJ is onto somethion'--seems that mayhap the move toward a market economy will in some sense force more a move toward more personal freedom too. Not sure how capitalism even in low doses can coexist wif' totalitarianism --leaastways, not fer long.

Nice writing.

How's yore mama?

Libby said...

oh, cora, when were you there?? what a trip!! and what a treat you must have been for the chinese people to see and meet, with your hair color...and your wonderful personality!!

The Phosgene Kid said...

The gov't and the people rarely have anything to do with each other when representing a country. Most gov'ts including our own are formed of the political class and out to fill their pockets at the expense of the people. Don't believe it? Try buying beer in Canada some time.

darkfoam said...

it's the personalities of the faces that you captured that are amazing to me..

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Aunty- thank you :) I was there in 2001 and I would go back in a heartbeat...except when I think of the long, long 18 hour flight! That was brutal! Hope things are good with you in the south- we are thinking of you as Fay sweeps in.

Libby- it was a life changing experience- and I loved being there, but you are right- I was a novelty. It was overwhelming how many people (women) wanted to touch me and feel my hair. I met many Chinese people who had NEVER seen an American in person, much less a blonde one.

Phos- I promise, the next time I'm in Canada- I'll buy some beer :) Or Black Velvet! :)

Foamy- thank you for noticing that...they were a diverse group of people if ever I met any.

The Phosgene Kid said...

Nice pictures. I'd love to get out there and try the food in the different towns and provinces.

Ruela said...

agree with foam,
cool pics.

ThursdayNext said...

I never knew about the Islamic population in China and cannot thank you enough for this post and educating me.

I hope you are well, dear Cora. I have missed you more than you know.

Lance said...

very beautiful pictures. maybe those people can edure to one taste liberty in their own country

sparringK9 said...

love your photos. good to be way out in the sticks and do without gubmint aid. might tuck that insight away for future reference.

The Phosgene Kid said...

Hope you post more photos, love 'em!!

Anonymous said...

'bout YOU,
dearest mayden


Bone said...

I know China was putting on its best face for the world. But just the few things we do hear--such as not showing the girl who actually sang, and Beijing having to shut down most of its manufacturing plants during the Olympics to keep the smog at a bearable level--lead one to think there's a lot we don't get to see.

I agree, it's nice to hear from someone who has been there.