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Changning Stands out in Building Fine Int’l Urban District
07/19/2018 China Women’s News

Changning District is a National Civilized Urban District and one of the most internationalized districts in Shanghai, with well-developed ecological and living environment. Recently, it was learned from the Changning District Civilization Office that about 90,000 foreign expats live in the district at present, and they are from 150 countries and regions such as Japan, South Korea, the United States, Germany, Canada and France.

Due to the cultural differences, some foreigners have certain difficulties in community integration, cultural identity and other aspects. As interest is the bond linking up the warmth of the community and language is the first step in building cultural identity, the Shanghai Changning District Women's Federation, with the support and guidance of the district Party committee and government, selected some communities of foreign residents for the pilot programs designed to tackle the personal or family problems for expats through interest-oriented classes, language classes, interactions for community integration and other means. Many foreigners living in the district have changed from staying in their houses to integrating in the community and taking an active part in various cultural, sports and public welfare activities organized by the communities as community owners. The communities have combined the needs of Chinese and foreign residents with the resources of the communities, showing an international vision in the work.

Integrated Development, Creating Activities of “Foreign Ladies” Brand

Bresley from Mexico loves dancing and excels in dancing skills. However, after coming to China, she was unable to continue her hobby for the reason of the venue. After learning about the story, the community official of Changning District Women's Federation at Zhouqiao Sub-district immediately negotiated with the property management company, which agreed to provide their underground storeroom. The storeroom was well rebuilt into a dance venue with walls, mirrors and barres installed. With the dance venue in place, the community officials encouraged the full-time foreign wives to participate, and after some demonstration activities, the number of the dancers was increased gradually. Based on the “Foreign Ladies” dance class, the dance classes for Chinese and foreign children and teenagers have also been incubated and offered. In addition, the “Foreign Ladies” flower arrangement classes, “Foreign Ladies” yoga classes, “Chinese Classes for Full-Time Wives” and other activities were also launched to enhance the foreign residents’ sense of identity and belonging for Changning District, and further advance the full integration of the foreign expats into the communities. The activities have effectively improved the level of social management, promoted local harmony and stability, and accumulated positive energy for enhancing the image of the Party and the government.

Focusing on Communities, Establishing Platforms for Charity

Wang Xuanrong from the Philippines has been in Shanghai for 17 years, and she is a foreign member of the “Chinese and Foreign Citizens' Council” at Shanghai Ronghua Residential Area. She used to be the general manager of a company, and now has been engaged in charity full-time. Wang joined a charity volunteer team in 2005, and since then she has been assisting children from poor families in China with congenital heart disease under the guidance of the Shanghai Children's Health Foundation. In 2012, the organization was officially named “Beacon of Love”, which is the only non-governmental non-profit organization in Shanghai that is composed of foreign expats and is committed to seeking financial assistance for Chinese children patients.

After learning about the story of "Beacon of Love", the Ronghua Neighborhood Committee offered much assistance to Wang. The Hongqiao Volunteers Association has even provided a platform and opportunities for the "Beacon of Love" to exchange and cooperate with other non-governmental non-profit organizations in the communities. According to Wang, in its operation until now, the charity volunteer team has raised more than RMB10 million in donations, and used these funds to carry out heart surgery for more than 350 impoverished children across the country to help them recover from the diseases. Behind these “warm-hearted” figures are the efforts made by Wang and all the members of "Beacon of Love".

Wang said that it was common to encounter a refusal in the process of raising funds. "We made brochures ourselves and distributed them to some restaurants, hoping these restaurants could provide us with some support, but quite a few people did not trust us." Even so, as long as the children can get help and recover smoothly, these loving mothers still spare no effort without hesitation. More than 4 years ago, a child surnamed Sun had the heart surgery successfully performed with the help of "Beacon of Love". At the recent party held by "Beacon of Love", Sun said, "It was the loving mothers who gave me a second life." After hearing the child's thanks, Wang's eyes were full of maternal love, and she said, "Every child’s story has been remembered in my heart, and they are a powerful driving force for the loving mothers to continue our work in charity. I hope to help more children and make more families have a better life." In order to give back to the communities, Wang has participated in the volunteer service activities nearby in her spare time. As a member of the “Chinese and Foreign Citizens' Council”, she has taken part in the community governance, shown the left-behind children around Shanghai, regularly visited the senior citizens living alone, and with her persistence and perseverance conveyed to the people the concept: with your and my volunteer services, the world is warm and full of hope.

Volunteer Service, the “Highest” Honor for Foreign Expats

Highlighting the public welfare, deepening social mobilization and promoting the creation and selection campaign at schools, communities, industrial parks, commercial circles and families, Changning District has carried out large-scale theme activities such as “Contributing to Creation of Civilized District with Happy Volunteering” and “I am Representative of Changning”. With the vigorous promotion efforts made by the Changning District Women's Federation and the Changning District Civilization Office, more and more foreign residents have responded to participate in volunteer service activities for public welfare.

Among them is Nuoyang Luona from Turkey, who used to be a Turkish diplomat in China, and has several titles such as “Chief Representative of the Garanti Bank in Shanghai” as well as a number of honors such as “Shanghai Honorary Citizen” and “White Magnolia Honor Award”. He has actively supported the community volunteer services, gathering the traffic volunteers on weekends to control traffic and ease congestion at major crossings; he has provided financial support for the students with special difficulties, donated money and materials for the disaster-hit areas, vigorously participated in public benefit activities with his wife and children, and launched a family volunteer studio; he has shared the stories about family virtues and promoted the spirit of volunteer service; he has acted as a "foreign woodpecker" by correcting the signs in wrong English, random parking, uncivilized dog walking and so on, well recognized by all walks of life. "Shanghai will be better in the future and the society will be more harmonious. I am very honored to make my contributions with my own efforts,” said Luona, whose family was selected as a national “Most Beautiful Family” in 2014.

"We have served the foreign expats at the communities with warmth, and deepened our development in family civilization. I hope that all of us will work together to make more foreign residents participate in the development of family civilization and take part in the construction of international fine urban district in Changning, so that these foreign residents can enjoy professional international community services," said Wang Xiuhong, chairwoman of the Changning District Women's Federation.

Foreign residents have enjoyed their life and work in Changning with mutual assistance among the neighbors, and promoted the harmony, happiness and progress of the family. Chinese and foreign residents have jointly participated in community management and construction of family civilization with Chinese and foreign families integrated into each other, having contributed to the development of a fine international urban district characterized by orderly management, adequate services, beautiful environment, stable security and convenient living.

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