resolutely believing in the party

This morning I observed the Baishizhou Culture Station in action. Two groups of aunties were singing. The first group was singing Mandarin karaoke, the second group was singing an original Hakka composition entitled, “Resolutely Believing in the Party”. Later that morning the new Shahe Party Secretary came by, singing a karaoke song (“The Northern Spring”) and enjoyed the performance by the Xintang Hakka Mountain Song Chorus. Handshake 302 also presented our work to date.

The morning of community culture, including a Party Secretary karaoke moment reminded me that so much of Chinese political culture is making and maintaining good relationships between Party representatives and the represented. The pictures show the lyricist, the singing Secretary, and the Culture Center’s documentation of the event.

So here are the translated lyrics of “Resolutely Believing in the Party”. Note the definition of xiaokang–a basic material standard of well being. Note also in the picture that the lyrics have been written by hand.

Spring brings the fragrance of one hundred flowers, one hundred flowers
Everyone has a car and building, a house, a building and a house
Every kind of furniture
Three healthy meals a day, nutrition and health

Summer comes and the heat is hard to bear, the heat is hard to bear
Everyone has a fan or air conditioner, installed an air conditioner
No need to roast and sweat
We have electric slow cook pots for traditional soup, traditional soup

Fall comes and it turns cool, it turns cool
We wear fashionable clothes, fashionable clothes
Everyone carries a cell phone
Each home has internet and is linked to the world, linked to the world

Winter brings snowflakes to the mountain, snowflakes in the mountain
Reform and Opening is the promise of Spring, the promise of Spring
Resolutely believing in the Party
Beauty and happiness with the realization of xiaokiang, we’ve realized xiaokang

volunteerism and possible civic identities in shenzhen

In the Summer of 2011, Shenzhen hosted the Universiade. At the time, we complained about the face projects and cost there of. In retrospect, it seems, however, that one of the more lasting effects of hosting what is basically an Olympics for college students was that volunteerism and u-stations took root and flourished.

U-stations can be found throughout the city, and are staffed by young friendly and sufficiently bi-lingual folk, who hand out bike maps to the city and introduce nearby attractions. All wear the highly recognizable Shenzhen volunteer vest. In fact, this new emphasis on volunteer citizen participation may also have contributed to an interesting renaming–Shenzhen migrant workers are now officially called “those who have come to build Shenzhen”. The phase reworks the Shenzhen volunteer slogan, “if you come, you are a Shenzhener”. The Chinese wordplay is from 来了就是深圳人 to 来深建设者.

Several days ago, I met with the director of the Baishizhou Culture Center. We spoke in a comfortable, well lit library which was also a u-station! Other programs run by the Center included an after school program, which is staffed by those young and friendly red-vested volunteers. We were in the station to talk about opening a community learning center under the auspices of this collaboration between multiple levels of government. We would be another NGO sponsored by some level of government to work in Baishizhou.

This is where the administrative structure gets interesting. The culture station is housed in the Baishizhou Five Village corporation, which represents locals’ interests and manages Baishizhou properties, electrical, sanitation, and other municipal services. However, the culture station is funded by the street government, which is responsible for implementing district policy. The volunteers are a municiple level NGO.

So here’s the a-ha moment: u-stations and volunteers have permeated even urban village regulatory structures and may have an important role in redefining citizenship and the role of the city in financing not-for-profits.

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