On the evening of March 14, representatives of 18 consulates in Shanghai met on the banks of the Huangpu River and applauded the Seventh Session of the Jinhua Homestay project, which will take place from August 10-30 this year.
Zhang Daniel Hong, director of the Jinhua Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, said that the JH project, which is sponsored by the Jinhua Municipal People's Government, has become a major project for the city, as it has registered the presence of 247 international participants from 41 countries. The JH aims to spread the variegated rural culture of Jinhua's historical villages, which are rich in resources and traditional culture. The project provides outstanding international youths, who are interested in China, with a platform to understand and appreciate the country. In doing this, the project also works to create a foundation that will protect and value the local historical culture while giving new life and growth to the ancient villages of Jinhua.
Zhang's introduction aroused sincere interest in the consular representatives, to the point that they were looking at the flyers and asking the organizers questions about the project's application, conditions, and arrangements.
The reputation of the JH is clearly echoing throughout the world; in fact Suoyuan, Siping, Yuyuan, Zhiyan, and Shanjing – villages in the municipality of Jinhua in which previous sessions of the project were located – were originally almost unknown before the project turned them into research centers, tourist destinations, and entrepreneurial bases for innovation. New ways of life were brought about in these ancient villages, whose residents saw their income increase and chapters of prosperity written.
The location of the Seventh Session is the village of Songxi, Pujiang County. Because of its charming landscape and enduring culture, Songxi was historically known as “Little Hangzhou” among merchants. Its well-preserved and large-scaled block of ancient buildings may well be included on the World Cultural Heritage list. At present, the preparatory work for the Songxi Session is underway, focusing on sewage treatment and firefighting systems that will be completed by the end of this June.
Spreading Chinese Culture throughout the World
English, German, Japanese, Bulgarian, and Czech were some of the languages in which the JH was discussed and praised by the participants to the Jinhua Homestay Promotional Meeting.In a sincere reaction, Yang Yang, representative of the Norwegian General Consulate in Shanghai, said, “Today is a grand cultural meeting; the JH is particularly innovative, especially in regards to the transmission and growth of Chinese culture.” And she added humorously, “I've carefully read the promotional documents of the JH. It's a lot, but I'll take extra copies to share with my international colleagues and have them develop Chinese minds.”
Jiang Yun, in charge of education in Eastern China for the British General Consulate in Shanghai and founder of the Youth Federation of the British General Consulate in Shanghai, spoke about the positive impression left by the two days he spent in Zhiyan during the Fourth Session of the JH (2016). “This is a great project offering a cultural exchange platform to the world's youths, which serves to enhance their outstanding life experiences. The 21-day stay in Jinhua become an unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience for them,” Jiang said.
At the event, Nataliia Litvinova, consultant of the JH, met a representative of her country, Gong Li of the Ukrainian General Consulate in Shanghai. Gong Li was pleasantly surprised to know that a Ukrainian had lived, studied and worked in Jinhua for over 10 years. Gong has visited Yiwu's Small Commodity City and Donyang's Hengdian World Studios. Apart from the world-famous Jinhua Ham, she stated that she knew that Jinhua “offers a great range of product at very cheap prices.”
Zhang Shuanglin, representative of the Bulgarian General Consulate in Shanghai, was very happy to see the images of Bulgarian former participant Anna Koleva Ivanova (Shangjing Session), who, according to Ju Shengmin, deputy director of the FAO, was introduced to the JH after her sister took part in another session of the project. “This project is very good! And Jinhua really is a good place!” Zhang affirmed. “This is an opportunity for the world's youth to unfold their individual abilities and display their expertise.”
Xu Shufang, representative of the JH, explained that at present, future applicants are fervently submitting requests and applications for the next session, while former applicants are still actively recommending and participating in the project.
During the Spring Festival, Marco Lovisetto, consultant of the JH, showed great attachment to the project and visited Germany to give project-related introductory lectures. (By Li Yan – Jinhua Daily, translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Xiamara Hohman)