Fuzhou to Beijing
I was impressed in the airport by a Starbuck's knockoff (check out the color scheme and typefont of SPR Coffee). I ordered a latte and was surprised to find I had just bought a US $12 cup of coffee.
Our flight from Fuzhou to Beijing was thankfully uneventful! In Beijing, we planned on combining visiting disability organizations along with a little bit of regular sightseeing.
The first disability group we visited was the China Disabled Persons' Federation, which is the main national group. It was founded by Deng Pufang, the son of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. I was a bit surprised that CDPF was pretty dedicated to advancing the rights of people with disabilities, but seemed notably unenthusiastic about the idea of blind people going to university. We had noticed that there were no blind people at one of the big universities we had visited in Fuzhou. There is still a feeling that blind people should become massage therapists.
I actually got my first massage ever in Fuzhou at a blind massage place. Many of Hadley China students are massage therapists trying to upgrade their skills by speaking English. English-speaking masseurs command higher wages because they can work with foreigners. Chuck Young recently sent me an article about blind massage in Korea: the profession is supposed to be reserved only for blind people there.
Rami gently brought up these topics during many of our visits, by asking about how blind people were educated about career options. We were accompanied on most of our Beijing visits by Lian, a Hadley alum who had gone to the U.S. to get her university education. She now owns a furniture factory outside Beijing with 30 employees, as well as a shop in Seattle. But, change will take time here. I am optimistic that going to university will increasingly become the rule instead of the exception for capable blind people in China.