Friday, September 14, 2012

Family ties

Family ties By Alistair Bone | Published on June 17, 2006 | Issue 3449 China's allure for the young is growing. The Chinese paid for Anna Wong’s trip to China. The third-generation Kiwi went with a group of 18- to 25-year-olds, most of whom had never been there and didn’t speak the language. She now says, “I used to think China was kind of unapproachable to me, but I would definitely go back again.” Her response is just another indication of China’s growing allure for the young. Overseas education used to be seen as a ticket out, but a recent survey has shown that more than 90 percent of Chinese students studying overseas now say that they would like to go home after gaining their degree. And China wants them back. The country impressed Wong’s group during their cultural visit, although, as she says, they were wowed by deeds rather than words. “I don’t think it is a Chinese thing to talk about how good everything is or how cool you are. “We visited a high school, and they put on a big concert. They did a lot of performance items and it was the popular children in the school who were doing these things. In my Auckland high school, it might have been laughed at or mocked. But there, everyone was really encouraging and all the children got whoops and cheers. Even when we walked into their school hall we got huge applause because we were special guests. “It was a boarding school; they worked from 10 until seven. They are encouraged to get on academically,” she says, “and it is pretty much all maths and sciences.” Wong’s trip was organised by the Tung Jung Association, a Wellington-based outfit that was set up by immigrants 80 years ago to unite and maintain the identity and kinship of those who claim affinity to the Chinese counties of Jung Shing and Tung Quan. Wong is first generation on her dad’s side and visited his old home. “I felt quite at home. I didn’t feel strange at all. You would think it would be a total shock, just to see how different it is, but it was quite humbling. The living situation was quite poor. I don’t think I could see myself there. They have one clean side of the river and one dirty side of the river, no sewerage and dirt roads. “But I felt fine just walking around and all the people were friendly. We talked to the oldest people in the village and gave them the name of my father and my grandfather and they remembered who they were. Dad left when he was two. But 60 years on, they still remember people.”

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