Wednesday, June 11, 2008

China Day 12: Daisy Cutting

Each of our sampans had a local guide who served as a liaison with the boat trackers and told us about the Shennong Stream area. Ours was Daisy, and she gets her own post.
Daisy is an enthusiastic young gal who has taught herself English using some kind of computer dictionary that pronounces the words when you select them. Her accent is a little funky, but you could understand her. 

Along our journey up and down stream, she told us some of her life story.

It made me furious. And sad.

The Shennong Stream area has been the traditional home since the Qin dynasty (that's 221 BC) of the Thuja people, who are one of the 55 recognized ethnic minority peoples making up 5% total of China's population. Daisy is a member of the Thuja people.

China's minority populations are not subject to the One Child policy like the Han Chinese majority; Daisy has an older sister and a younger brother. Minority peoples are, however, supposed to be limited to two children, and Daisy's parents were bitterly disappointed that she wasn't a son. They went ahead and had a third child anyway, who turned out to be the desired son.
This is the part that makes me wild with fury. Daisy explained - with happy pride! - that her parents are now happy they have her because she contributes about 1000 yuan per month (about $150) to pay for her brother's schooling. Like her paycheck is the only value that this obviously smart and hard working and motivated girl has to offer. Like it's only natural that she should have to buy her parents' love.

Now, Daisy doesn't seem to be letting any of this get her down. 
As I said, she's proud she has this job and can contribute to her family's needs. She's kind of an entrepreneur, too - somewhere along the line she recorded a CD of ethnic Thuja folk songs - she taught us a rowing song on the trip down river - which she tried to sell to us. I'm sorry I didn't buy one! 

I guess all I'm trying to say is that I appreciate my own family more and more, the more I see of things like this. Thanks, Mom and Dad! Love you always!

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