Posted: 8/10/2009 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ]
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Category: General Blog

"Big wind blows."

"Blows what?" fifteen high-pitched voices shrieked in unison.  In front of me, Arno discreetly plunges a finger into both ears.   The children lean forward eagerly, each preparing to jump to his or her feet and dash to a new seat.  They pay no attention to the stiflingly hot air around them.  After all, air condition is a luxury, not a norm.

Outside, a cluster of men, brown from the scorching sunlight, perch idly on the edge of the sidewalk.  They pay no attention to us, despite the nondescript carboard sign at their feet.

"Are they asking for money?"  I asked a student, unable to understand the characters scribbled across the makeshift sign in black.

"No, no, looking for work," Major answered briefly.  She reads the sign then continued, "It says that they know how to paint and to..."  She pauses, mentally searching for the correct word.  "Do carpentry."

As we walk on, I notice more and more such signs lining the streets.  The Chinese students, accustomed to such sights, pay the signs no attention.  Nearby, a woman on a rusty bike that is attached to a cart of watermelons pedals by slowly, casting a hopeful glance in our direction as we continue noisily through the dusty street.

Less than eighty miles away, the horizon is lined with rows of proud skyscrapers and gleaming office buildings that reflect the sun's glare and boast Shanghai's status as one of China's leading financial centers.  The blast of a bus horn fills the air as a bicyclist brazenly pedals right into the path of public bus #52 on the dirty street.  The bus driver deftly jerks the steering wheel, narrowly avoiding collision with the bicyclist and barely missing a metallic-colored yellow taxi.  The taxi driver pushes the horn irritably, all the while casting a watchful eye towards the passersby on the road should any raise a hand to signal for a taxi.  Both the bus driver and bicyclist continue along, the conscience of neither disturbed by the near-accident.   The taxi driver nonchalantly leans toward the window then releases spit from the abyss of his throat into the street below.  Men with their shirts rolled up, revealing inches of flesh, seek solace from the same sunlight that the students paid no heed to.  Scores of pedestrians, many toting umbrellas to shield themselves from the unrelenting sunshine, stroll across the street towards Raffle City Mall.  Just yards away, wet but freshly washed clothes hang from open windows and makeshift clotheslines.  

Hello, Shanghai.

The juxtaposition of the well-to-do and the poor is evident, but those who can make a difference don't notice or choose not to notice and those who are affected cannot make a difference.

Linked Organizations

Organization: PESI (Professional & Educational Services International)

81 members

Founded in 1988, Professional & Educational Services International (PESI) is dedicated to international development through educational exchange and professional service in Asia. As a non-profit organization founded by Chinese Americans, we are especially interested in promoting understanding an
Linked Projects
When: 7/13/2009 12:00 AM to 7/16/2009 8:00 AM
78 Supporters - led by Yang Yang - updated 7 year(s) ago
MMK (More for Migrant Kids)is the specialty project of TECC Shanghai that began in 2005. We seek to improve the educational and career opportunities of migrant children in the city of Shanghai. Historically, this group has been severely discriminated against and deprived of equal opportunity....
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