Over the week of September 15 to 22, 2016, there have been a range of activities in Beijing and Gansu province, largely focused on the legacy of Rewi Alley. It brought together a very interesting group of international and Chinese people for this time.
The key international players were:
- Brian Hewson, counsellor at NZ Embassy Beijing;
- Maurice Alley and Dorothy Waymouth, Alley family;
- Two representatives of George Hogg’s family;
- Jenny Clegg, vice president of SACU, the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding [the UK equivalent of NZCFS];
- Michael Crook, chair, ICCIC (Gung Ho);
- Marjorie King and associates, USA, Gong Ho member;
- Dave Bromwich, President NZCFS, vice chair ICCIC;
- William McQiu, Christchurch branch NZCFS;
- Alison Rosanowski (Ex-principal Darfield High School, Selwyn District Sister Cities, New Zealand).
- Bernard Duncan from Christchurch Sister Cities, NZ, who joined us in Lanzhou.
We first held a meeting in Beijing, which included a brief Gung Ho executive meeting at the Song Qingling museum. This also gave an opportunity for the visitors to hear what Gung Ho is doing throughout China.
We then flew to Lanzhou, where we met at Lanzhou City University (LCU) to visit the new Rewi Alley museum there, then we had a meeting to present the Rewi Alley Research Centre. Michael, Maurice and I all reinforced the need to develop pragmatic strategies that keep the Rewi Alley spirit and legacy a living one. LCU firmly agree with this approach. 16 new consultants to the Research Centre received their certificates of appointment. [For the LCU report (in Chinese) on the meeting, with images, click here].
We then took the train to Shandan, where we visited the Shandan Bailie School (SBS), the tombs of Rewi Alley and George Hogg, as well as the Rewi Alley museum. At the tomb, Mr Xi Yuanping and I were asked to step forward to present the flowers on Rewi Alley’s tombstone, and likewise Hogg family members laid flowers on George Hogg’s stone.
Xi Yuanping is the young brother of President Xi Jinping, and both are sons of Xi Zhongxun. Xi Zhongxun was an early honorary principal of Shandan Bailie School, and in his earlier years was also a young military officer in Shuangshipu at the time when Rewi Alley established the first Bailie School there. However, he and Rewi did not meet until later. Thus this is a very strong connection between SBS and top-level government that I was not fully aware of.
We then unveiled a statue that is the first stage in the building of a new Bailie International Vocational College, which will be a provincial level institution, expected to be up and running within two years. The photo of the statue shows Rewi Alley in the middle left, Xi Zhongxun to the right, and children either side representing ‘create and analyse’ – the Bailie Philosophy. I had the honour and privilege of giving a five-minute speech, along with our old friend Liu Xiaoyun, now party secretary of Shandan County, a Zhangye government leader, and Mr Xi Yuanping. The four of us then carried out the unveiling together.
In Shandan we were joined by the very warm, positive and outgoing Michelle Elia, our NZ teacher at Shandan Bailie School.
We had a stopover in Zhangye, where we enjoyed a visit to the remarkable landforms of Danxia, before taking the overnight train to Dunhuang where the first “Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo” and the “High-end International Forum” was held. The morning session was a very large affair, with the key note speech given by China’s Vice-Premier Madam Liu Yandong, with some international speakers from countries along the silk road. In the afternoon, there were six sub-forums, with ours titled “Rewi Alley Internationalist Spirit and Construction of ‘One Belt One Road’ National Strategy.” This was hosted by Youxie, and co-hosted by NZCFS and Gung Ho, and organised by Gansu Provincial and Zhangye City Governments. Among the speakers were Xie Yuan (Youxie), Brian Hewson (NZ Embassy), Michael Crook (Gung Ho); Maurice Alley and Dave Bromwich (NZCFS).[For the LCU report (in Chinese with images), of the ‘Internationalist Spirit of Rewi Alley’ subforum at Dunhuang, click HERE.]
We also enjoyed some excellent performances and visits to Mogao grottoes and ‘Echoing sand mountain‘. This was a very positive time, with very good exposure of the Society to a high level, to promote the legacy-of-Rewi-Alley work that we do, and wonderful collaboration between the members of our diverse international group. We established a very good rapport: with Michael Crook leading us in singing such revolutionary songs as “The East is Red”, and Brian Hewson with some more down-at-home Kiwi Maori songs.
Dave Bromwich, September 25, 2016