My daughter will be on TV on June 10

at 11am on CCTV Channel 12 (China's National TV station). Audrey will be in the second half of a 45-minute show. But the fact that she'll be on TV isn't the best part, not by far.

The best part was filming the show last weekend.

The theme of Audrey's segment goes something like this. American girl moves to Beijing, starts going to school in a clean, comfortable city environment and thinks she knows China. Then she sees a movie called "Not One Less" and realizes there are much poorer parts of China where kids don't even have decent school books, lighting or heat. So the girl gathers up some food, clothes and gifts and goes out to the school where "Not One Less" was filmed and finds out what life is really like in that village.

This last weekend we were in that village (Shuiquan in Hebei Province) and filmed the show.

My first impression of the place was that it is poor. It has very little fresh water and people tend to save the water they have for essential things like eating and cooking. Not much of it is used on bathing, which has a different connotation anyway since there are no showers, bathtubs, or toilets for that matter.

Most of the older people I talked to couldn't read or write although the school kids could so there appears to be an upward trend in the level of education. Based on what I could tell from just one day together, the kids in Shuiquan appear to be behind their same-age peers in Beijing. The Curriki project came to mind but since Shuiquan doesn't have internet access I don't know how they'd take advantage of it.

However as time went by I started to see past my preconceived notions about quality of life and came to realize how rich Shuiquan is.

There's something unspoiled about the people there. The adults were extremely curious about us and open about themselves and their lives. We were invited into every home in the entire village over the course of two days. The children were polite and well-behaved, curious and smart, happy and playful. I asked one girl if she liked living there and she said yes, because they had the mountains and the animals and their family around them. She said that when people leave Shuiquan to go work in the city they usually cry every day because they miss home so much.

And as we drove away on Sunday evening, I could understand why.

Here are our kids and the Shuiquan kids on the school playground.
kids on playground

Filming in the classroom.
audrey in class

Me talking with some of the village people while the film crew worked with the kids inside the classroom:
mel talking with people

Me with the girl who played the youngest student in the movie "Not One Less". She still lives right next to the school.
mel with star

Lots of people were curious to see what all the commotion was about at school that day.
people looking over wall

people looking

One lady cooked lunch for us. We had white rice mixed with potatoes, some fresh root vegetables and pickled potatoes. They were the best potatoes I've ever had.

There were more animals in the village than people.
grant and sheep

By the end of the day the kids were playing together like old friends.
Tug of War

Many thanks to Sophia Zhang for sending this CCTV opportunity our way. :)


Wow! What wonderful experience.

Posted by skrocki on June 06, 2007 at 10:45 PM CST #

"Not One Less" 一个都不能少? Wow,What a beautiful girl! She is absolutely like you~

Posted by guest on June 07, 2007 at 03:44 PM CST #

Hi, Melanie, I watched the TV program this morning(I missed the beginning and started from where Audery is teaching a English song). It is a great program and your daughter did a great job! Obviousely, the activity will benefit both of Audery and those children in Shuiquan. And your mandrin is excellent!(I noticed that you can pronounce "er" at the end of some words :-) )

Posted by Harry Fu on June 10, 2007 at 11:19 AM CST #

i am finally catching up Melanie and now know what TV program you referred to. DOH! Well both you and Miss Audrey are lookin mighty fahn! I will now promise to regularly read your blog and not do a marathon backwards catchup like I am now :) When are you here this summer?

Posted by mayamisner on June 19, 2007 at 09:47 PM CST #

I missed the TV show but my best friend watched it,after that she told me what she saw.You are really great ones. It's meaningful experience for kids,you are really the ones with love in your deep heart.

Posted by Ivy Zhang on June 26, 2007 at 10:35 AM CST #

wow, what an enriching experience!

Posted by tjmummy on October 03, 2007 at 08:47 PM CST #

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