As many of my Buxton Friends will remember I travel and work in strange places. Currently I am in Shenyang in Northern China.
I have attached some pictures of the Forbidden Palace here in Shenyang. It predates the one in Beijing by a hundred years or so and is still a bit of a secret from western tourists.
Shenyang is a large, 6 million population, industrial town. There are high levels of unemployment generated by the demise of state industry.
Living here has awakened my awareness of how good life can be in Buxton and that any problems are only small on a world scale. Here the town is suffering from pollution and as a consequence lung disorders are normal rather than the exception. Part of the population is just glad to get food and shelter. For food and everyday things the issues of quality, safety and choice are not considered; there are only basic needs to satisfy.
In amongst this deprivation are examples of a long history and evidence of great energy. The younger people are keen to try Western style thinking and activities, small businesses are a growing part of the business scene and the mobile phone intrudes everywhere.
My job here is to help reorganise Vocational Education, to help the teaching staff of the North Eastern Electrical Vocational University, find new ways to develop and deliver teaching materials. The pressure on institutes to train more people to higher standards is growing as education and retraining is seen as a way forward to a better life.
In that respect not much different from Europe except that the infrastructure is not there.
How lucky our young are, they are not hungry, and education is there for all that ask.
Roger S. Rice.