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Taiwan Compatriot Volunteer Wang Meihua
11/14/2017 changningtimes

Contributing to Public Benefits with Gratitude

She always said she tends to be "meddlesome"; she said she is actually a common person; she said Changning, Shanghai is her second home ...


Her name is Wang Meihua, a Taiwanese lady who has been in Shanghai for 25 years. At first, she just planned to return to Taiwanafter spending a year in Shanghai. However, because of the people, life and feelings here, the Taiwanlady has stayed for 25 years. In the city, she has participated in various tasks at the community, established interest groups at the neighborhood committee, served as lecturer for the World Expo, acted as a volunteer at the service station, taken part in the waste sorting, and so on. She and her neighbors are as close as family members and she is kindly called “Sister Wang” here.


“She is actually not new to Shanghai.”


Since she came to Shanghai with her husband and three children in 1992, Wang has lived in the city for more than 20 years. In the words of the people around her, she can not be counted as a “new comer to Shanghai”.


In 1994, Wang was elected as the director of the first community committee of property owners after just moving to Gubei Xijiao Garden neighborhood. “It might be because most of the property owners here were from abroad, and I came from Taiwanwithout any language barriers," said she.


At that time, Gubei new district was still under development. It was far less sophisticated and livable than now as there were neither Lawson and 7-11 convenience stores nor access to necessities such as bread, children's shoes and electrical appliances. At that time, the nearest commercial area from Gubei was Xujiahui, 5 km away, but the public transport nearby was yet to be improved. Wang got into touch with the Orient Shopping Center located in Xujiahui, which provided a shuttle bus specifically for residents at the community, thus solving the residents' problem of shopping.


In the mid 1990s, the Yan’an Road Viaduct was constructed in Shanghai, and Xijiao Garden neighborhood was just on the south of the viaduct, on which the driving cars could overlook the internal residential area. Some foreign residents worried about privacy and security complained to Wang about the “short” walls of the neighborhood. After consulting with the neighborhood committee and Hongqiao Sub-district Office, Wang managed to agree with all parties concerned to properly make the walls of the neighborhood higher on the condition that the surroundings and the beautiful appearance of the neighborhood should not be affected.


Because of the cordial service for the owners, Wang has reaped a good reputation at the neighborhood. In 1996, Ronghua Neighborhood Committee was established, which became another bridge for Wang to participate in community governance. Wang said, "A neighborhood committee is similar to the ‘Li’ in Taiwanbut is completely different in mode." She remembers that shortly after the establishment, Ronghua Neighborhood Committee contacted her through the property management company, telling her that the activity of “Love Under the Blue Sky” would be held in the neighborhood during the June 1 Children's Day Community so as to raise donations for the children in poverty. "At that time, I was a bit scared of the neighborhood committee, but I was also a little curious. Hearing about raising donations for the children, I thought it was meaningful and then I joined in.” It was the first time that Wang had been involved in a community activity and she felt that the activity was good in form and meaningful as well as provided an opportunity for her to learn about the neighborhood committee. Gradually she became a part of the neighborhood committee, often paying visits, having talks and sharing practices and experiences in Taiwanwith the cadres there. “I could provide some assistance and run some errands.” In this way, she has been more and more familiar with the neighborhood committee, and attended almost all the activities organized by the committee at the Spring Festival, Women’s Day, Dragon Boat Festival and so on. As Wang had learned knitting, she opened the knitting workshop at the activity room of the neighborhood committee, attracting the participation of a large number of residents, and she also made a lot of friends there. However, she said, “Actually I have received more care from my neighbors than my contributions.”


From being puzzled by the Shanghai dialect at the very beginning to chatting with Shanghai native friends without any difficulty, Wang has harvested plenty of friendship in Shanghai.


Serving as World Expo Lecturer, Participating in Small and Big Affairs at Community


After getting close to the neighborhood committee, Wang was gradually noticed by the sub-district. When the World Expo lecturers were recruited in Shanghai in late 2005, the Women's Federation in the sub-district called to ask whether Wang wanted to participate, and she readily accepted the proposal. "At that time, the judges thought that I was not bad, and I was selected. There were only over 700 lecturers in the whole Shanghai," said Wang with a sense of pride. From 2006 until the official opening of the World Expo, she traveled everywhere to give lectures to the citizens on etiquette. "The easiest way to understand etiquette is that it exempts the other people involved from feeling uncomfortable.” At that time, Wang delivered a lecturer every two weeks, for which she used her free time to read and make preparations. Thanks to her experience in lecturing at the knitting workshop in the community, her lectures were vivid and lively and popular with the audience. After the official opening of the World Expo in 2010, she applied to be a World Expo volunteer and served as a “small blueberry” at the Shuicheng Road service station. “All the volunteers at the service station were university students, except me, a member of the community.” As the most asked questions were about directions, the university students were not familiar with the roads nearby, but Wang had known the place very well and could provide guide for even the small roads in the neighborhood. “My contributions were meaningful, and I felt honored to personally participate in the World Expo," said she.


Later, when the sub-district invited her to lecture for the campaign for creating the civilized district in Changning, she quickly accepted; after the waste sorting was implemented, she was also active in participating and helped with the promotion. So long as she was invited, she would take part in all the activities at the neighborhood.


After retiring, Wang went to college to study communication management. She was older than the teachers, but she did not mind and enjoyed the learning. "Only by accepting something new and learning can we keep up with the times," said she.


Sister Wang’s “strong point” is “communicating”.


The people familiar with Wang said that the biggest difference between Wang and the community cadres inChina’s mainland might be her way of communication. In her own words, “communication skills” are important.


"Everybody will encounter troubles but different people react differently," said Wang, adding that some would choose to depend on themselves while others may complain everywhere. "Expats also do the same, but they often put in some geographical bias.” For example, there are those who would, for a small thing, complain in the circle of friends how could Shanghai, the mainland or even Chinabe like this.


“Communication can dispel misunderstandings and I think we should try to communicate with others. Once this step is taken, you will find that it is not difficult to deal with the government and the residents." This is the Wang’s way of dealing with affairs. She was elected as the head of the committee of property owners for the first time because of her advantage in language, but her straight three terms of the position proved that her work has won the recognition of all parties concerned.


The people knowing Wand said that it is a pleasure to communicate with her. She is called "Sister Wang" by the residents. She usually speaks Taiwan-characterized mandarin softly, looks at the other party with a shallow smile, and slightly leans forward in communicating. Even if she does not agree with your point of view, she will quietly listen to your story, and then use the tone of consultation, saying, “It makes sense, but I think ... ..."


Wang attributes "communication skills" to etiquette, saying, "The etiquette is not as unattainable as some people would consider. The simplest way to put it is that the essence of etiquette is what you say and do should not make the people around you uncomfortable ."


Someone familiar with Wang said, "Compared to the forceful ways, Sister Wang’s soft way is more acceptable." In 2006, Wang became a member of the lecturers group of “Millions of Families Learning Etiquette” in Shanghai. When communicating with young commuters in the community, Sister Wang would ask, "Why not make up at work?" Answer: "I don’t have such a habit." She would go on to ask, "Are there any differences between the clothes you are wearing and those worn in college?" Most would answer, "Almost the same, no difference." Wang would reply, "Since you have worked for so long, should there be some difference? It is also some respect for yourself." Later, Wang noted that those white collars’ grooming was slowly changing.


However, what Wang refers to as "etiquette" does not mean unconditionally accommodating others. At an activity of “Gubei Chamber” organized by the sub-district, Sister Wang and participating foreigners of different skin colors reached two points of consensus: First, the foreign residents can also act as a volunteer for civilized transport, and second, all Shanghai citizens should follow the traffic regulations. She said: "Some foreigners change lanes randomly while driving in Shanghai. Dare they do the same thing in their own country? Foreigners should also respect the Chinese."


Wang, a grandmother now, devotes much of her time to the third generation in the family, and she encourages her daughter to continue her role and participate in community governance.


In the 25 years in Shanghai, Wang has witnessed the take-off of Shanghai, and she has also been deeply in love with the land. She prefers Shanghai in March and April because of the extraordinary beauty of the spring scenery in Shanghai. There are not only wonderful parks but also beautiful flowers and plants even in the neighborhoods. She has got together with her neighbors regularly each month, saying, “They are like my family members. If I had not come to Shanghai, I would probably be an ordinary Taipei citizen. But with the neighborhood committee and the sub-district here in Shanghai, great changes have happened to me.”

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