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Year of the Dragon February 1, 2012

Posted by George Dong in China, Fulbright, Undergraduate.
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In China, exploding firecrackers, red lanterns, and steaming dumplings herald the auspicious Year of the Dragon. Family gatherings and delicious food are central parts of the Chinese New Year and are akin to the type of celebrations that Americans enjoy on Thanksgiving. Right before the New Year, I joined a local volunteer group on a trip to visit 16 underprivileged students in a remote village.

George and students await Chinese New Year

We brought Chinese New Year’s gifts,  winter clothes, warm socks, and young adult books from the city to distribute to students. Many parents of these students are migrant workers, and they need to endure unbearable travel conditions and join 700 million other domestic travelers in order to return home and take pleasure in this national festivity.

One of the students really made a profound impression in my memory. She lived alone with her grandmother. Chickens ran around in her house, and rain dripped down through a leak in the roof. Both of her parents left the village to work as sanitary workers in the city. The couple start sweeping the street as early as 5:00 a.m. every day, and they only make about $2,000 a year; however, it is substantially more than the average annual income in the village. Despite hardships and challenges, this student is more optimistic and more content with her life than most of the people that I encountered in the city. I wish that the Year of Dragon will bring prosperity and peace to her and to everyone here.

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