Yep, I like the alliteration of this blog title nearly as much as I adore Chinese kids.
Last weekend, some fellow interns and I visited a migrant school on the outskirts of Pudong. The aim was not to ‘make a difference’ thank god (studying politics has made me wary of patronising Western intervention into development), but simply to have a fun afternoon together playing games, drawing etc.
I found, delightedly, that young children are willing and enthusiastic models, as long as you take the photo instantaneously. They let their guards down much quicker than adults, hence why I think the photos look much less stiff and posed than other portrait shots.
One trick I found useful in engaging the children was taking their photo and showing it to them immediately after. They loved to pull funny faces and then laugh at what they looked like on screen.
What did surprise me was that when the kids weren’t pulling funny faces, they looked incredibly serious, much older than they were.
I’ve saved the best till last. The girl below is 100% going to be on the cover of an edgy fashion magazine very soon. Mark my words.
An aside: the day was a lot of fun and a welcome chance to get out of the expat bubble, but it also showed me another side to China. The country is clearly not all glamorous bright lights and high rises, you don’t have to look far to find poverty.
What I hadn’t known prior to the school visit was about the Hukou system of household registration in China, whereby a person officially identifies as a resident of an area. If they then move from the countryside to the city, they are excluded from educational resources, social welfare programs and many jobs.
Even if this system does succeed in lessening rural migration, it seems incredibly harsh that newcomers are prevented from fully integrating into the cities they are trying to make a better life for themselves in.