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Homestay in Historical Villages  
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Outstanding Youth and Village Growth
Post Time: 18/07/2017



       As a consolidated practice, the organizing committee of the Jinhua Homestay project holds the Global Seminar for Outstanding Youthduring each session of the project. The seminar is dedicated to outstanding youths from all over the world who come to Jinhua to discuss the protection of its historical villages. In addition to the 36 international participants of Suoyuan 2017, a number of doctoral students from Tsinghua University also took part in the event.

       The seminar was inaugurated with the projection of a special episode of Jinhua in Foreigner's Eyes,a documentary produced by Jinhua Daily, which was about the JH. Nataliia Litvinova, foreign consultant of the JH, conducted the opening session.

       Zhang Hong, director of Jinhua FAO, commented that this was the fifth session of the seminar. He said that everyone at the seminar was from a different country, had a different skin color, and spoke a different language, but each shared a common goal: to inject fresh vitality into the village of Suoyuan. He added that there are great hopes for the growth of collective wisdom, individual advice, and common strength.

       The second part of the seminar consisted of speeches delivered by students and participants.

       The first speech was delivered by Joyce Sng of Singapore, who talked about the conservation of ancient settlements in the multicultural reality of Singapore. She learned a lot from the conservation of Jinhua's historical villages and claimed that the JH is a great opportunity for the travel industry, as it awakens the awareness of need for protection of local architecture in the villagers and transmits traditional cultural heritage to younger generations; eventually, she added, younger generations will be empowered to work on long-term conservation plans and to realize sustainable development.

       Shivani Talati, an Indian participant who is majoring in environmental law, said that all of Suoyuan's old roads, houses, and halls are very well preserved. Amazed by that, she emphasized the fact that Suoyuan is not just an ordinary village but a combination of modernity and development harmoniously fitting together in a tranquil Chinese community. Just a few days before the talk, she was walking around the village wondering why there were trash cans at every corner. It was then that she learned that the trash cans were the result of the previous session of the JH. “So, I believe that the concept of Homestay Plus represents a variety of ways to save and protect the old buildings, as well as to better conserve the historical villages,” she said.

       Thabile Manentsa, a South African participant majoring in tourism development, delivered a speech asserting that sustainable development is the right way to protect the environment and is also an effective way to combine nature and tourism development. “In terms of sustainable development,” he said, “Suoyuan is doing very well, attracting the attention of people from all over the world.” For the travel industry, he went on to say, apart from economic interests, it is more important to include the conditions that allow people to feel that they are in direct contact with nature in order to encourage tourism.

       In her speech, the Canadian participant,Vicky Hung, said that even without the ability to establish a museum, Suoyuan is already well-preserved. At the same time, the village is an exemplary combination of tradition and modernity. Despite a 500-person population, the village presents the modern atmosphere of a city, like the presence of a western-style bakery. She hopes that Suoyuan will keep on growing in this ideal direction and will become an example for the development of the local historical villages.

       Polina Bogomolova, a Russian participant, underlined the fact that both the protection and reasonable development of a historical village are key to the overall economic growth of the rural community.

       Zhang Ang, a student at Tsinghua University, reminded the audience that the protection of historical villages is an urgent issue. With the continuous development and expansion of urban areas, the existence of historical villages is coming under threat. He suggested that the government should establish effective protection strategies and encourage the community to make individual and private investments in conservation projects.

       Hu Xuelong, a doctoral candidate at Tsinghua University, has always been interested in sustainable development. She claimed that sustainable tourism brings about various aspects of social development.

       A bold proposal was advanced by Meng Fanjun, who suggested the idea of virtual tours. He has been following many places that launched virtual touring projects. In these projects, on the basis of a local touristic and sightseeing reality, a three-dimensional travel environment is offered to “net-visitors” who do not need to leave their homes to enjoy the remote simulation of real-life scenery.

       Yang Zhao, from Xidi, Anhui, explained that the countryside near her hometown is a famous destination for those who wish to travel to historical villages, featuring ancient buildings in the Anhui architectural style, though a general weak awareness in the protection of traditional villages is an actual problem in the area. She hopes that an international exchange of opinions, ideas, and perspectives, such as that which took place during the JH, may contribute to the creation of new ways of balancing the growth and protection of historical villages.

       At the end of the speeches, free discussions occurred between speakers, participants, and relevant staff, in order to clarify standpoints and alternatives to the promotion, development and conservation of historical villages. (By Wu Qian and Wang Lei, translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Xiamara Hohman)

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