I was invited to an event tonight where we had an amazing Grace.
Grace is the name of the girl who shared her story with us. Well educated, she had little desire to look for a well paid corporate job. Instead she went to different places to make the world a better place. =)
Last three years and a half saw her in Cambodia, running a bakery business and cafe. What is unique about this place is they only recruit and train survivals of sex traffic. I came to be reminded that still in a lot of places of the world, there is a long way to go for many many things.
Suddenly, me not able to access Facebook does not seem to be such a big deal any more.
I have received a really interesting mission from a lifelong learning institution. The institution organised lectures by experts in psychology, art, literature, tourism etc and recorded all of them. My mission is to convert these videos, made the output free and open to all, especially to those who could not attend the live lectures in person.
Of course I am super excited about what is coming but before the excitement, I have a big question to ask – what does success of this project look like?
Number of people who viewed these videos? Number of people who completed these videos? Stories of how these videos changed people’s lives? Number of people who talk about these online lectures and share with their friends and families?
In a commercial environment, the answer is pretty straight-forward. Profit = Revenue – Cost. The portion of what you gain minus what you pay translates to the success of a profit seeking organisation. But in learning for life long learners, how do you definite the metrics? What does success taste like?
There are two kinds of freedom for a fish:
It can swim in a fish tank with clear boundaries. Within the boundary he goes wherever he wants to go in whichever style. Or it can live in a tightening fishing nest. He enjoys the freedom if he figures out how to break the nest.
Our neighbourhood became a marketplace during the National Holiday. As it is known there will be no officials to regulate the streets during holidays, every one came out to sell something. A truck loaded with carpets, fruits, a van full of clothes, some hangers to sell shirts. Our street is covered by shoes, toys, scarf. From a bird view, it is an impressive Walmart, bustling with heat and noises. The only pity is that I used to find (pirate) book vendors a few years ago but book vendors never near my sights any more.
The couple I met in McDonalds said: ‘Who said China does not have freedom. It is the most free country ever. ‘ The guy pointed to these street vendors full of pride.
Depending on how you frame freedom. I thought.
I am able to access both Facebook and Wechat, two very different worlds, sometimes contradictory. I am not sure if this is fortunate or unfortunate.
But it does allow me (lately urge me) to shift perspectives, especially during this time (this age).
My biggest takeaway switching between these two worlds is to shift perspectives. It is not easy. At the beginning when I heard things from another world, I went thinking”What? That is really what you think? Are you kidding me?”. But the more I hear people talking, the more I realised how much we are labelled by our backgrounds, values imposed on us, and how hard it is to convince people on the other side to even to listen. But we have to, otherwise there is no possibility of a conversation.
The only thing I can do is to always remind myself to respect any individual, no matter how far his/her view differs from mine. I wish I had more of that capacity than I currently have.
I was doing some writing works in McDonalds this morning then I heard someone talking to me,’ Your handwriting is so beautiful, can I talk to you?’
That was how I started a three hour conversation with a couple who happened to be having breakfast in McDonalds. In export business, this couple leads a comfortable middle income class life. We talked about a lot of things – how their parents moved to rural villages during Cultural Revolution, how they would like their children to be able to follow their own passions. This is what I enjoy about being here – you can meet strangers who are sincere and not shy to share their thoughts, who are seeking for spiritual food beyond pure materialism.
We eventually hit an inevitably spiritual topic – meaning of life. Their curiosity drives them to seek something of higher purpose – meaning of life. It is a difficult question and I believe every one has his/her own answer to it. I am not able to provide them with a formula but I encouraged them to keep on looking.
Today is a normal day but I have gained a little sense of achievement – I was able to exert a bit of influence to strangers. We will meet again.