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Lu Wanru – Honorary Member

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Lu Wanru
Lu Wanru

Lu Wanru was born in Beijing 1930. She studied Western Languages and literature in Peking University, and majored in English (1949-1953). She was assigned after graduation to work in the Chinese People’s Committee for Defense of World Peace (China Peace Committee) headquartered in No.1,Taijichang, Beijing.

Lu Wanru’s work area in the Committee in 1950s to early 1960s covered liaison and exchanges with peace organizations of South and Southeast Asian countries. With the establishment of the Asian African Solidarity Committee of China in 1965, she shifted to African work for a short time. The days routine was suspended after the Cultural Revolution began in mid-1966. By the end of high tide of the struggles in 1969, all the Committee leaders and staff were sent to the “May 7th Cadres’ School” in Dancheng County, Henan Province for experiencing rural life and concentrating on political study. Returning to Beijing in 1972, Wanru was dispatched to work for the newly founded Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (Youxie), working as interpreter for the first China performing tours of the famous western symphony orchestras such as the Philadelphia and the Vienna orchestras. She was finally assigned to the American and Oceanian Department of the Friendship Association in 1975.

The people-to-people friendship work with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand developed rapidly during 1970s-1980s. Lu Wanru’s personal record of escorting visiting groups and individuals from these countries amounted to 4-5 times a year in average, and travelling abroad with Youxie delegations to Canada, Australia and New Zealand to nearly every other year. Close links were built up with the counterpart friendship societies and resulted in promotion of mutual understanding and friendly cooperation in many fields with peoples of these countries. For New Zealand, the days of working with old friends Jack Ewen, Tom Newnham, Nancy Goddard, Shirley Barton, Molly Elliot and, in particular, Prof. Bill Wilmott, the sincere supporter of both her Youxie and Gung Ho work, formed unforgettable happy memories in her work life.

With the 1982 grand celebration of the 40th anniverary of the Shandan Bailie School (SBS) in Lanzhou and Shandan, more and more people began to take interest in knowing Rewi Alley’s life story and contributions in China. Wang Bingnan, then President of Youxie who knew Rewi well since the wartime, decided to set up the Office of Rewi Alley Studies in 1985. Lu Wanru was appointed head of the office responsible for assisting Rewi Alley write his autobiography, and looking after his working activities affairs concerning the revival of his two causes –Gung Ho and the SBS that were closed down after 1951. His dream came true with rebuilding a new SBS in 1986 and the re-establishment of The Association of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (ACIC) in 1983 and The International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (ICCIC) in 1987. These programs won great support from the government and peoples of China, New Zealand, the US and many individuals. As a birthday gift, Rewi Alley had his autobiography published in December 2, 1986 both in English and Chinese.

After Rewi’s passing in Dec.27, 1987, Lu Wanru was asked to serve in ICCIC as volunteer to keep its foreign contacts going. She retired from Youxie in 1990, and became a full time worker for ICCIC since then. She had been Secretary Genenral of the Rewi Alley Foundation and Deputy Secretary Genenral, Executive member and Vice-Chair of ICCIC.  She revisited NZ in 1992, 1997 and 2002 again for speaking tours on Rewi’s legacy. Her last trip to NZ was in 2006, which ended with a fantastic experience of living in Rewi’s cottage in Moeawatea!  Lu Wanru retired the second time from ICCIC on her return late 2006.