why shenzhen?

yesterday i gave a presentation on the shenzhen book of changes project. one of the questions that i was asked afterwards was, if shenzhen is so environmentally compromised, why do you love it?

i answered that i had experienced hospitality and generosity in shenzhen. indeed, that my husband and friends have all taught me how to be a better human being. and then, as i was walking away, i realized something else. i don’t think of myself as loving shenzhen. i think of myself as walking the city to understand what is happening here. i think of myself as an offering a highly subjective, partial english-language glimpse of the city for those whose only access to the city would otherwise be through journalism. i certainly hope that people who read noted come to shenzhen to learn and to understand and to participate in the life of the city; in other words, i hope that my blog might direct people to interesting and meaningful encounters with the city, rather than function as a substitute for personal experience.

all this to say, i bring a quality of attention and conscious intention to my inhabitation of shenzhen. this orientation has enabled me to see the beauty of shenzhen, land reclamation, fake foods, dank slums and squatter encampments, notwithstanding. so perhaps, yes, i have loved shenzhen more than any other place. but  it may be more accurate to say that learning to be attentive to shenzhen is teaching me to love where i am, today.

One thought on “why shenzhen?

  1. Hi, a friend just directed me to this post. Beautifully said. Thank you.
    I spent nearly 4 years in SZ (now in Beijing) and sometimes miss it terribly. I call it my “Chinese hometown” despite Chinese (and foreign) detractors who see it as a soulless boomtown (fair enough). But it was my introduction to China and I am grateful for the people and welcome and experiences I found there.

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