When she was a little girl, Zhong Na used to collect eggs from the family chicken to give to her grandmother to sell. At the time, the family couldn’t afford to send her to school. But Zhong Na was determined to get herself an education, so she devised a plan…..
Zhong Na figured her grandmother would hardly notice if she was to squirrel away a few eggs each time, before giving her the rest. She decided that she would be able to sell these eggs herself, to help pay for herself to go to school. I can just imagine this intrepid little girl, secreting these delicate treasures into a cotton sack, with dreams of a promising future ahead of her!
A little while later, her grandmother came across this little sack, to find not only the secret stash of eggs, but a few baby chicks to boot! In her innocence, Zhong Na hadn’t reckoned on the hatching of these eggs, secure as they were in their nice warm sack.
I am touched by Zhong Na’s pure desire to educate herself, of her certainty in a better life for herself and a fearless belief that she could achieve what she needed with a bit of ingenuity and hard work. And I marvel no less at her accidental discovery that the value of her investment in herself had potentially doubled or tripled! Evidence of the entrepreneurial nature of a young girl with a big idea, it seems.
Those of you who follow Hua Dan’s work will know that Zhong Na did go on to get an education, before coming to Beijing and being trained by us to become our first Children’s project manager. Zhong Na has now returned to her village in Shandong province to be with her family and, hopefully, to start up a little branch of Hua Dan with local school children. You can read more about her here.
In the next few months, I’m embarking on a project to share with you the stories that have inspired me on my journey with Hua Dan. I’m also excited to announce that Hua Dan has received a small grant from the Lenovo Foundation to develop a performance, Dumpling Dreams, sharing these stories in a piece that we hope to take to Edinburgh Festival in 2014. I look forward to keeping you updated on the project!