I enjoy hiking, cooking, travelling and playing volleyball in my leisure time. I have been painting and writing Chinese calligraphy since I was young. I view art as another way of making sense of the world.
Below are a few recent paintings of mine:
My Experience in Rural China
Born and raised in Shanghai, a showpiece of the booming economy of mainland China, I never experienced real poverty. That changed in 2009 when I ventured to Shenguo Village, Henan province, with a group of 11 volunteer teachers. A dirt road, flanked by occasional walls covered with slogans from the 70s and 80s, led us to the village’s only school. It was comprised of three rows of bare and dirty classrooms, one small room that functioned as their library and a final room serving as a shared office for the school’s teachers. There, I and the other volunteers, held a 20-day summer program teaching basic English, art and science lessons for about 100 of the village’s elementary-aged students.
That experience helped me to understand that poverty means a hard life not only now but also into the future. Most of our students’ parents were either workers at a nearby aluminum factory or farmers, earning an income that just covered basic daily expenses. The community had few resources left over to invest in education. The students wanted to learn, but they didn’t have the opportunity. The school library was unstaffed and generally closed. The three tired and overburdened teachers were only marginally more qualified than the students they taught. No art and science lessons were ever held.
That was a formative experience upon which I often reflect, and it continues to inspire my research and teaching even today.