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Minzhi (Menchi) LiuBy Minzhi (Menchi) Liu
First created
Minzhi (Menchi) LiuBy Minzhi (Menchi) Liu
First created
$1
pledged of $2,500pledged of $2,500 goal
1
backer
0seconds to go
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Oct 2 2018

About

When East Meets South Africa—A Transformational Memoir of A Chinese Millennial is a collection of my personal short stories of exploring about my connection with the world through going to a country with lower than 2.5% Asian population—South Africa. In 2017, as a second-year Masters student, I joined the summer study abroad program from New York University Steinhardt to study Educational and Social Reform of South Africa for one month. Barely knowing anything about this country and what my physical presence reflecting on a new culture, I took this opportunity to step into this unknown journey, explore South Africa as well as my identity through an African lens.

About Me: 

I was born and raised in Shenzhen, a modern metropolis in Southern China. Opposite to most of the Chinese family, I was raised in free-range parenting—I enjoyed my autonomy, but also bummed around for a few years. After high school, I moved to Vancouver, Canada for college. During those school years at The University of British Columbia, like most of the international students, I was mostly living in an Asian bubble. It was partly because Vancouver has a big Asian community, and partly because of my indifference about bursting the bubble. I was living the most stereotypical “Chinese students in Vancouver” lifestyle—eating out at Asian restaurants with Asian friends every week, shopping for trendy handbags and shoes at Holt Renfrew once a while, only speak English when I need to and going to vacations in only big cities and famous destinations. I was constantly consuming to search for fulfillment and justify my importance by how much I possess and how many times of traveling I had each year.

In 2012, I came to New York for vacation, which was the first time I came to the United States. The city of extraordinary multi-cultural and racial diversity made me realized how sheltered I was. It inspired me to change my lack of cultural awareness and exposure to other parts of the world. In 2016, I came back to New York for graduate school at New York University. This time I had a bigger mission in mind: I want to transit to a new style of living—minimalism. To achieve that, I sleep on a mattress; sports outfit everywhere and only purchase what are necessary. Without being controlled by a desire for possessions, I am able to find freedom and appreciation of life from ridding myself of life’s excess. I understand my wealth is not defined by the numbers of accessories in the jewelry box, but by how much I can lift up others; how much I can give back and how much impact I can make.

During the spring of 2017, I was informed there was a study abroad opportunity in South Africa for a month. Debating between to go or to not go, I chose to follow my gut instinct to seize the opportunity. My major psychology, nonetheless, has nothing to do with education and social reform of South Africa. But I took the opportunity to go to a new place to experience self-discovery and another part of the world that is unfamiliar and yet marvelous.

Why do we care? 

Because the goal of the study-abroad program is about Educational Reform of South Africa, we had a chance to meet with the top stakeholders of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and to visit different rural schools, with the mission of understanding of rural educational policy and implementation, current challenges and solutions. I discovered rural schools in South Africa are running extremely low in resources, especially facilities and educational materials. For example, Mokovongo High School I visited has no water supply to water hands and flush toilets. The biggest wish of a high school boy from Imisebe Yelanga Combined School is to have a football field at the school. Most of the classroom are multigrade (means a teacher teaches two different grade at the same time) because of lack of teaching resource. Schools located in rural areas almost have no connection with the outside world. Most teachers are unwilling to come to the rural areas to teach. The communication between these schools and DBE sometimes could take months, compared to urban schools in which case it takes only a few days. But this is not only true for these schools. According to NEIMS Report in 2016, out of 23,577 schools in South Africa, 

  • 569 schools do not have electricity; 
  • 171 schools have no water supply; 
  • 9,009 schools do not have sports facilities.

If I simply come to see these then leave, there is no real purpose for me to come to South Africa. I'm simply a tourist without making any marks.

What Are The Impacts: 

 Rural schools in South Africa are no-fee schools. They depend heavily on partnership and funding from the government and local communities. The goal of the book project is, every year these schools will receive consistent help to improve current conditions. 

Greater financial support means: 

  • better payment: more teachers are willing to come to rural schools to teach 
  • better school facilities: sanitizer in the restroom, football, and basketball to play at schools 
  • better resources: learning tools and materials, educational toys, extracurricular books and so on

About the book:

The book consists of three parts. The first part is about personal stories.  Each chapter is a stand-alone story illuminating the lessons I have learned from self-discovery as well as interaction with a new world. It starts from why I first choose to go to South Africa, how I get lost on the first day and be helped many times by strangers, to a song that brings me to understand the intellectual revolutions of South African youth and how I encounter a near-death experience at the end. These ten personal stories convey the tears and joys while stumbling across the adventures of a journey that frightened, strengthened, and ultimately enlightened me.  

This is the outline of personal stories:

  • 1. First day On the Airplane: Getting ready to explore a new country 
  • 2. Lost in Ethiopia: Finding Hope In A Hopeless Situation 
  • 3. A Near Miss: Running in Groenkloof Nature Reserve
  • 4. Reveal The Truth about Minimal Wage Act Based On a Gardener’s perspective 
  • 5. Kruger Park: Why Do We Love Some Animals But Eat the others? 
  • 6. International Volunteerism on Mandela Day: What Are The Real Purposes of Volunteering Abroad? 
  • 7. Fire Camping: Revolution in South African Youth's Minds 
  • 8. Conversations with two Black friends: How to Interpret Culture Appropriation vs. Appreciation 
  • 9. Double Consciousness: A Chinese student Living With A Group of American Students in South Africa 
  • 10. Millimeters from Death: Attacked by the Same Giraffe Who Killed A Filmmaker Nine-Month Later

The second parts are the details of three rural schools I visited and specific problems they are facing at the moment.

Specifically, the outline of the second part is:

  • Introduction (How do I gather all these information)
  • School Profiles
  • What does education look like during and after the fall of Apartheid?
  • What are the rural school conditions in South Africa?
  • What are the issues rural schools facing today?

Last but not least, the third part, of which the purpose is to reveal the beauty of nature and culture, containing my amateur photographs of South African and nature with a brief description (i.g., highlight, location, activities). This includes places like Bo-kaap, Robben Island, Cape Point, and Sterk Fontein Caves etc.  

What is my ultimate goal? 

Over the course of my travel, besides reading the history of South Africa—mostly about Social Reform of Pre and Post-Apartheid, I also take an unconventional way to learn about the country—talk to the locals. The purpose of this book is to spread the unexpected kindness I encountered from many strangers along the way, to give voice to common people who need to be heard, to understand oneself and the connection with the world by embracing the identity of an outsider, and finally to support rural children who have the best smile in the world. 50% of the book revenue will be donated to support education in rural schools through the improvement of school facilities and the expansion of educational resource distribution. Apart from these aims, my ultimate goal is to use my most original words and unfiltered photographs to bring you to my experience of being a fish out of water in Sub-Saharan Africa, and hopefully one day, you will start your most fearless and magnificent trip somewhere in the world. 

The process of accomplishing this book project:  

 Here is a breakdown of how the funds will be spent. It includes but not limits to   

  • The design of the book $600 
  • Professional Editing $375 
  • Printing $628 

TOTAL: $1,897

I use this website to estimate my budget: https://99designs.com/book-publishing-cost#book-calculator-interior-step

This is the bare minimum needed to complete the project. It does not include any wages or living expenses. Any support from friends, family and generous strangers are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Risks and challenges

The project is transitioning to the final touch phrase. The memoir has minimal risk, except it may take longer to finish than expected.

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Funding period

- (30 days)