This is a website I made dedicated for urban humanities program .It is a a record of my way of seeking solutions for many of the urban problems in contemporary cities, especially those third world cities that’s undergone huge social and cultural changes.
My interests in urban issues routs deeply from 2008 when I first moved to a China Mega City- Guangzhou, right after I finished my high school. By that time while I was 17 I was shocked to be exposed to such a diverse city that is totally different from my home town – a quite industrial city located 30mins’ drive away Nanjing. Guangzhou presents such a nuanced balance between poor and rich, in and out, local and foreign, congestion and sprawl, dense and blankness, similar as the way in Shanghai. It was from that time I started to jump out of the box and really rethink the environment that I am living in.
The university I went to is a university that’s specialized in agriculture. In China, high school students from city won’t choose to study agriculture because that implies ‘working in rural area and suggesting bad infrastructures'. So most of my classmates there in Guangzhou are from rural areas. It was from there, I started to realize how polarized the world I am living in. I used to have a dorm roommate who struggle to feed herself at $50 a month that she has to have cabbages every noon to keep the budget. After graduation most of my friends are willing to stay in city even if they are not registered in city's 'hukou' ( one of the policy that constrain the population mobility within nation across province ). Dramatically expensive rent for apartments is definitely unaffordable for young people, so many of my friends are choosing to stay in urban village, which is described as the shabby scar of urban development. It's dense. It's dodgy. It's a hub of migrating people. But life has no choice, This forms a stark contract to what I have experienced in Melbourne. Sometimes I will plunge in thoughts when I see my other Chinese friends and classmates, ‘children of developers’, driving fancy sporty cars passing by. This two conflicting image always crush into my mind. We share the same sky, same nation, same city, but we are living in different space. I think this implies one of the identity issues in China in larger scale- the ‘rich’ and the ‘poor’, the ‘skyscrapers’ and the ‘villages in the city’.
Also globalization and commercialization is striking China cities because the huge merits that market could bring about. Funds and people crowds in, without a second of thinking, raising high-rise commercial buildings that looks exactly the same as what they built in Hong Kong. On the other hand, Chinese young generations are undergone huge cultural strikes. For example, the world nowadays is seeing incredibly increasing Chinese international student. Across the world, they move, and finally their home country, they rest, bringing such a mixture into their own culture. Eventually, the city where they dwell is gradually losing its culture identity by loosening the ability to pass on traditions to its people. Then will the city finally become another ‘HongKong’ ?
In 2012 I was lucky enough to be able to take a discussion class with MARGARET CRAWFORD and C. GREIG CRYSLER for a semester, from where I was introduced to the idea of urban humanities and some of the most influential urban ideas in current trend. I started to test this urban humanity thinking on urban history in Professor Julie Willis' class later on while did found some interesting connections between Western modernism culture and Chinese Modernism renovations. UCLA equipes me further for this intense research study of Shanghai’s identity issue by providing series of Modern history class.
Despite the passions and responsibilities that a research team member ought to do, I think I could also provide the program with insights as both an 'insider' and 'outsider', and a bridge between cultures, either Asian- Western or in- between Chinese. All the texts in this website are my original writings either as previous assignment on urban thinking or personal journal. The selected pieces are all related to urban issues in China, which really shows my concerns and passion toward this topic.
I look forward to being able to engage in this exciting moment that brings about brilliant ideas of Chinese cities from various perspectives and this could really open up my eyes and give me the opportunities to integrate those ideas for a better future of my home country.
Thank you so much for your time,