July 16, 2012
Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai
Yuyuan Garden is an area that represents old Shanghai. Traditional architecture (no skyscrapers), pedestrian walkways, and lots of shopping. Pretty much exactly what a tourist wants to see in big city China. I have to admit, they pull of ancient charm meets modern China quite well there. I liked it.
The best part of Yuyuan Garden was witnessing a community response to a lost child. We happened up the scene just as it began. A little boy, maybe 8 years old, crying on the street. A concerned couple approaches to find out what is the matter and to offer help. Others start to gather. They beckon to a police officer who is on duty close by. More people gather. They policeman talks to the lost boy while still more people gather around, some ask the boy questions, others talk amongst themselves, still others simply watch.
This scene fascinated me. A lost child in the United States would likely get help from a concerned passerby, but once others saw that the kid was being attended to they would likely carry on relieved that they didn’t find him first. Also, once the kid was passed on to a police officer or store manager or something, the concerned party would likely depart, reassured that they had done all they could do and glad to not have to take responsibility for a lost child.
In China, however, concerned and curious people continued to gather around this lost boy. It seemed to be partly out of instinct (nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, right? especially in China) and partly out of a sense of duty, that perhaps they might actually be able to help this boy just by being present and witnessing his distress. Completely different from what I would expect to see in the US.