Chinese Art & Language Classroom

China Tour -- 005: Wuxi City -- My 3rd Hometown

Wuxi City, located by Tai Lake, in Jiangsu Province. It is near Shanghai (one hour by car). It includes three counties Yixing, Wuxi and Jiangyin and it has a 6 million population. In history, it was called "Little Shanghai" for its developed light industry and also it is called "A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey" for its richness and beauty.

I say it is "my 3rd hometown" because I had been there to live and work for about 9 years, after I had graduated from the university in 1983 and I was appointed there as a college teacher (20 years ago, all of the Chinese university students were appointed to their work place by the country). It is the first place I started my work and my life after I left from the university.

Then, my younger brother went to Wuxi after he left from his university in 1988 and created his successful career there. Then my parents went to Wuxi after they had retired in 2005 and had become the formal residents and were enjoying their happiness of later age living there.

I love Wuxi for its great human culture traditions and strong culture breath, its beautiful landscape and its kind and friendly people.

The more than 3000 years history makes that Wuxi is full of the Chinese traditional culture's breath.   As soon as you land in this land, you can hear the Wuxi local language and the mandarin. It is in the Wu dialect area of China, in the same language phylum with Shanghai and Suzhou together, but, it has its own character. When you hear Wuxi women speaking, it is just like some birds are singing with some beautiful tones and clean songs.   

No matter where you are, you can see some ancient or classical style or ancient + modern styles pictures, poems, carves on the walls, roofs, bridges and even on the ground.   When I was in Wuxi, in the short 3 days, I had painted for 2 nights with my niece, I visited a painting and calligraphy exhibition and I had meals in some restaurants with so strong traditional Chinese styles. I saw many traditional paintings, calligraphy and carves, everywhere I had been. The Beautiful Tai Lake, the Great Channel, that is going through the city and the boats on the water brought me so many nice recalling and soft feelings.

Wuxi resident's educational level has been admiring since the history. It is the place that has out of most of professors and academicians in China. Mr. Xu Beihong is one of them. And one of my best friend's son has been matriculated by 15 best U.S. universities at the same time and now he has been a doctoral student in California.   

Wuxi has a very developed light industry and its economy power has been listed within the first 10 cities in China. It is the city that has the most developed private economy in China. In its history, the family of Mr. Rong Yiren created the most great national and private industry. Right now, the richest Chinese private enterpriser Mr. Shi Zherong is also from Wuxi.

If you have been to Shanghai, you would certainly go to Hangzhou and Suzhou. If the beauty of both of the two cities is made by human being, then the beauty of Wuxi is because of the nature for its beautiful Tai Lake and the Great Channel. Everywhere, the beauty of Wuxi relates to water and flowers. No matter in the city or around of it, there is something in the water or by the water. That is why, when I just started to learn painting in 2003, one of my first gouache paintings is just a picture named Watery Region. So, Wuxi is also A   Wonderful Tour City in the East of China.

I love Wuxi also for its great people who are kind and friendly.   As a transmigrant, I went there as a student who just left from the university. It was the local people taught me and helped me to work, live and grew up.

Just on this beautiful land, I became a model college teacher and a mother. I had got so much warm help from my leaders, colleagues and the neighbors when I was in the most difficult time to raise my baby son, alone, while I worked there.

I still remember how the vice president asked me to speak my lesson to the wall before the first time I went up the dais. His serious request made me become the youngest teacher, who was welcomed. At least 7 students, who were managers, wrote their compositions named "Our Younger and Little Teacher" to say how they did not believe me, when they found that I was younger than them and how they admired my teaching and knowledgeable in Chinese classical literature and language fields after my lesson.

I never forget how my colleagues and neighbors accompanied me in turns in nights, when I was sick, while I was looking after my baby. How they knocked on my door to ask me whether we needed to go to the hospital, when they heard my son's crying and how they sent us to the hospital in the middle of the night...

During the most difficult 3 years, a woman teacher lived in my home with her son, who is a doctoral student in California in the U.S. now, to accompany me. She knitted all of the sweaters for my son and she always tried to cook something better on the weekend for both of my son and me. A couple of friends and colleagues who are from north of China made all of the winter clothes for my son and they even sent a box of Jiaozi, A most important Northern food for Chinese New Year, to my home from a place far away of the city. How a couple of elders, who were my son’s nurses, picked up my son every morning and sent him back in the evening.

Just relied on so much great help, it made me an outlander, who did not understand the local language, who did not know how to raise a baby. Who did not be a college teacher of over 400 adult students, who were 5 to 20   years older than me, grew up to be a model teacher of the college and a responsible mother.

So, every time, when I went back to Wuxi, I always invited these nice colleagues and neighbors to have a lunch or dinner. Even though about 50% of them have been retired already, they are still my dear friends and elders, just like my family. So, in the dinner before I left from Wuxi, I sang a song My Elders & Villagers to express my grateful heart to them...

I love Wuxi and I think of it as my 3rd hometown. I am thinking that next time, when I go back Wuxi to celebrate my parent's 60 year’s marriage anniversary in 2009. I should certainly bring some of my paintings or maybe a few of computers or maybe something else suitable for the elder people to contribute the local elder's rest home. I would really like to thank the beautiful city, for it has admitted and has looked after my parents with many free services and much respect. Can you imagine? As two 82 years old people, my parents are enjoying their old age lives with so many fun and happiness. Playing Men Ball, reading, writing calligraphy, playing music… and also being the oldest couple of members of a Men Ball Game of the Wuxi TV Station. The member of team to take part in the Men Call Game of the 6 Chinese eastern provinces and cities... as my father said, both of them are just like two "Elder Little Children" and are enjoying their " Lovely and Happy New Life"...   

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please write to shirley@ebridge.cn or shirleyz004@yahoo.com. You are welcomed to publish your opinions in the forum.

Shirley Zhang
Written and Edited on Feb, 2007

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