micMAC was privileged to partner with Kellogg’s and International School of Qingdao (MTI) last week to share some fun-filled, goodie packed boxes of love with a group of amazing countryside school children. I am never not blown away by the “turn table” effect of events like this. I get geared up to do something humble. Helping impoverished children who may have never received anything like this and will no doubt light up to see a big, happy foreigner with a box full of sweets and cheap toys. This must be what it’s like to be the Beatles. Or Justin Bieber. Or Santa. Feels so good to do something nice for the less fortunate.
Then I meet the kids and the teachers and the parents and pretty much anyone within 5 kilometers of the school and a new layer is added to my understanding of fortune and poverty. I can’t begin to speak as an expert to the socioeconomic dynamics of China’s rapidly diminishing countryside population or the long term implications of massive urbanization which seems to be threatening the very core of the nation’s ancient agrarian roots and chipping away at its rich cultural heritage. I can however, speak with authority concerning this isolated fact. It’s nice there.
Not nice in the Gucci sense. Or the Maserati sense. Or the “we have heat in our homes to protect us from the bitter cold winters” sense. No, those are the luxury items you find all over the new China cities but not the countryside. There is a niceness though. It’s a purity and a warmth among the people. It’s an apparent lack of stress that seems to come with a lack of stuff and a lack of status. It’s an absence of pretense and bling that opens the door for sweet, smiling frost bitten faces (see above) and a lesson in true humility (see below).