Tag Archives: yunnan

The First Westerner

When I was working for the Kang Yun Foundation in rural China in 2006 we passed the small remote village called Baifu where we stopped to visit the local market. I was told to expect some sort of reaction as I might be the first western person ever. Despite the fact that I didn’t believe that and still don’t, it was quite an experience.

People stared at me, paused talking, pointed their fingers and stopped their business for a little while. Obviously my appearance didn’t have such a great impact to stop people from trading, bargaining, buying, selling and gambling. Being alien even for a few minutes and in the centre of everyone’s attention happens quite rarely though.

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Changing China

In 2006 I volunteered the first time for a charity, the Kang Yun Foundation in rural China. An international shipping company supported the organisation to build schools in the unaccessible hinterland of the Yunnan province.

Reading about the stock market crash, the financial and military power and the general influence of China made me remember what I experienced. The organisation literally built schools from scratch and brought education to remote places. In some places I was told to be the first western visitor ever.

Comparing this to the ever fast growing economy, to the images of polished cities like Shanghai or Beijing and the news on the impact Chinese economy has on the rest of the world it feels completely surreal and alien when I look at some of these images.

Kangyun Foundation

Shanghai at night time when I arrived. I left to the province of Yunnan early next morning.

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A classroom in the Fangyan Primary School.

Kangyun Foundation
Smaller children normally share one of those bunk beds.