Dear Child and Youth Care Colleagues,
It is said that children are the same, wherever you are. However, the more kids that pass through our lives as professional practitioners, the more one learns that children are all different, each in their own special ways. These truths were brought home to me again during a recent teaching and research visit to Beijing.
I left New Zealand – the most de-regulated, free market economy in the world – mid-Spring to arrive in Beijing for late Autumn, and was thrust into the largest regulated market economy in the world. My arrival at the Peoples' Republic of China College of Civil Affairs coincided with a visit by the Minister of Civil Affairs to address national and regional managers, educators and practitioners about China’s response to the 1998 Yangzte River flooding. Interpreter Yang helped me follow the Minister’s statement of Government policy which included up-grading the level of education and training of 2.5 million civil affairs managers and workers.
It was interesting to note how the major tasks assigned to grass-roots workers in China are both similar yet different from what child and youth care workers do in the West. China’s Civil Affairs workers provide disaster relief support, adoption and welfare services for children, and for handicapped adults and elderly people. They also fit artificial limbs, administer marriages, deaths and burials, and help local government officials service the needs of 1.2 billion people.
One is visually confronted with the impact of a truly significant child and youth care policy introduced throughout China about a decade ago. Civil Affairs workers help administer the country’s “one child policy" aimed at curbing China’s population explosion within two to three generations. Adults speak of “children having temper tantrums" in front of their parents and grandparents. Can you imagine what it must be like to be an only child born to parents from large extended families, in a country founded on family lineage dating back to antiquity? The hopes and aspirations of every family are now carried on the shoulders of a single child! The latest Disney animated film “Moohan" illustrates these points about family life beautifully for children of any age.
Beijing was a steep learning curve but a highly
recommended place to visit for those who like to people watch. Look to
China’s children to make an impact in the new Millennium!
At the First International Child and Youth Care Conference held in Vancouver (1985) Leon Fulcher (second from left) is pictured with Frank Ainsworth (Australia), Geoffrey Ibeabuchi (Nigeria), Brian Gannon (South Africa) and Tao Yunsheng (China).