To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Zigen, and to explore the theories and practices of revitalization and sustainable development , Zigen 30th Anniversary /2nd Forum to Promote Sustainable Development was held on December 15th and 16th in Beijing Normal University. More than 220 guests, who worked for government agencies, academic institutes, media, and non-profit organizations from all parts of China, attended the event. Viewings are over one million via live streaming platforms including ChinaLink and Feng-Live. Many alumni of Zigen projects, as well as some girls and women who received aid from Zigen, also came to the venue to tell their stories.
Teng Teng, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, reviewed his own journey to know Zigen from suspicion to acceptance, and now in close affiliation with Zigen. He witnessed the launching of Zigen projects in Lijiang and Qinglong; he participated in poverty alleviation and coordinated educational programs (adult education, occupational/technical training and basic education). With a view from the current policy of approving the value of school and adult education, Teng concluded that Zigen is in the right place at the right time, it sure will go a long way.
Professor Zheng Xinrong, Director of the National Center for Education and Multicultural Studies at Beijing Normal University, has been working with Zigen to set up rural development curriculum in recent years. She first knew Zigen while studying abroad in Canada, for all these years, she is very much impressed by Ms. Pat Kwei-Ping Yang’s decade-long persistent concerns and diligent efforts on rural issues. On the future of rural education, Zheng pointed out that in less than 20 years, rural education would be detached from communities. “We very possibly are the last generation to witness the mode of community/school, village/school combined together.” She hoped this forum would help people to discover the wealth and history of rural areas, and that the villages could once again become their spiritual homeland.
The keynote speech was focused on “Rural Revitalization and Sustainable Development: Global Visions and China’s Exploration”. The forum featured on four themes: 1) Economic Vitality – The Driving Force for Sustainable Development; 2) The Major Pillar to Revitalize; 3) Inheritance, Innovation and Promotion of Rural Culture – To Dig Out the Inner Strength from Rural China; 4) Advocating and Promotion – Make the Countryside a Lifelong Learning Site. Speakers shared their wonderful views, Yang said, “heaven and mankind as one” is an important part of Chinese philosophy. The idea of ‘respect the nature’ should exist in the Chinese minds. However, when it comes to practical work, missteps happen. For example, ‘prosperity’ is easily regarded as economic gains, nothing else; the needs and participation of women, elderly and youth are widely ignored; it is usually singing and dancing to represent rural cultural activities, forms outweigh contents; people rush to the cities for better paid jobs, it further enlarges the urban/rural gap, making it more difficult to cultivate and to attract talents. With the standard and consensus for sustainable development, it should be closely integrated with the current rural revitalization and rural construction.”
Other than the reep-pikeand Naxiyue performances from Guizhou and Yunnan, Zigen staff members also debuted the show 30 Years of Wind and Rain along the Zigen Journey, created by Hu Zhihong, a longtime participant of the Leishan project. Xu Duo, lead singer of the New Workers Art Troupe the Earth Ballad, led a sing-along Our Dreams Will Come True, its lyrics, “Traveling through mists and hazards, our dreams will come true! Difficult and lonely along our way…..as long as our hearts are together” echoed perfectly with the closing remarks from Yao Jun, legal representative and Secretary General of Zigen China, “It is a long and difficult journey for a grass root organization like Zigen who dedicated itself to people-oriented sustainability the last 30 years. Thanks to our friends to accompany us all the time. We will persist walking on this road, stay true to our original goal. Let’s walk hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, through the mists, through the hardship, our dreams will come true!”
Due to space limitation, please visit Zigen’s public WeChat account and website for more details.
Translated by Tracy Kong, born and grew up Shandong Province. Now living in Shanghai. She works for a start-up organizing immersive learning expeditions for European company executives in China.
Edited by Lotus Zhao, long-term Zigen Fund volunteer.
论坛主旨演讲部分，围绕“乡村振兴与可持续发展：全球视野和中国探索”进行，主题论坛则分为经济活跃—乡村可持续发展的动力 / 振兴乡村，谁是主体 / 乡土文化传承、创新与推广—发觉乡土中国的内生力量 / 推广教育促进可持续发展—创建终身学习的乡村四大部分,嘉宾分享精彩纷呈。杨贵平老师说，“中国有着几千年丰富的文化，自古倡导的勤劳、节俭、尊重自然、天人合一是中国文化里非常重要的内容，然而在实际工作中往往存在一些思想和行动上的误区，例如：谈到兴旺容易聚焦在产业兴旺，只着重发展经济忽略其他；重视大户却忽视了占农村主力人口的妇女、老人和儿童的需要和参与；一说到乡土文化就是唱歌跳舞、重外在形式轻内涵和本质；离乡离土导向的城市化教育思维进一步加大了城乡差距，导致农村难以真正培养出国家社会需要的人才、缺乏人才也留不住人才。可持续发展在国际和国内是有共识和标准的，需要与当下的乡村振兴和乡村建设工作紧密结合起来。”