If you are a parent, what does your child’s name say about you?
In China, a child’s name often embodies the parents’ hopes and dreams. They are idealistic and aspirational. If you want your son to aim and fly high, name him “Ling!” That’s Richard Yan’s Chinese name.
His parents wanted him to follow in his father’s footstep to “fly across the Pacific Ocean” to America for higher education and a better life.
“Ever since I can remember, my parents have been telling me about the meaning of my name and stories about my dad while he was studying in the U.S. in the 1980s. We started learning English at a fairly young age as well, to prepare ourselves to go overseas to study. That has always been part of my identity and aspirations.”
Born in Wuhan and raised in Shenzhen, 31 year-old Richard has been living the “American Dream” as a Chinese dreamer. He has succeeded in getting financial aid and scholarship, graduating with degrees from Dartmouth and NYU (MBA) that would soon put him in high paying jobs on Wall Street.
But one day, he hit a roadblock. He quit. He decided to launch his own company at 30. What is it? Why?
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Muyi Xiao first caught my eye with her urgently captivating photo collection titled “Married Young.”
It’s a story about teenage parents in China.
One photo shows a 16 year-old mother, gazing adoringly at the sleeping infant in her arms.
Another photo caption says Jian and Mei are expecting a baby in a few months. They were 15 and 16 when they got married.
I was scratching my head going…what? Why? Why so young? What about school? What’s the story here?
As I kept clicking more pictures for clues, I stopped asking questions. I started seeing each photo through the eyes of these children. The camera has turned my focus to the happy faces, thin bodies and tiny bed, projecting a reality that is immediately pure and profoundly provocative. They seem to be speaking back to me through these photos, saying “I’m a mother and I am happy.” “We’re having a baby. We are going to take care of each other.”
These touching images left me in awe.
Who’s behind the camera? That led me to Muyi Xiao .
Born in Wuhan, China, 24 year-old Muyi has worked for Reuters and Tencent for a couple of years before moving to New York for a Magnum fellowship, and a new media training program at the International Center for Photography.
I tracked down Muyi for a cup of coffee in New York. We talked like old friends for an hour, and I knew, I had to interview her for my new podcast.
Muyi’s story is about a girl who knew early in life that growing up in a rural family with no money, no connection, and parents with no college education or exposure to the West, she has to be independent, persistent and positive.
But still, how does a girl who’s failed the college entrance exam in China, notoriously known as Gaokao move on with her life? Where could she go? How did she end up in Beijing? Why did she pick up a camera and how did that become her passion and calling in life?
Let her story inspire you.
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