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Viewed 650 times 2017-3-16 09:40 |System category:News| Online

Online 'Home'

A family photo [Provided by Guo Jiazi]


Chang Yujiang and Guo Jiazi, a thirtysomething couple living in Longshou, a community in Xi'an (capital of northwestern China's Shaanxi Province), are both journalists. They do their best to support each other in their careers, and especially in caring for their young family. They have a daughter and a son. The family enjoys a happy life. Given the rapid development of new media in China, Chang and Guo registered a WeChat account, Home in Longshou, in 2013. By using the account to provide useful information about the community in which they live, they have been helping their neighbors build closer connections with each other. The WeChat account is like a big, warm online "home." 

Young Family 

Chang and Guo were classmates in college. While many of their classmates dated during college, Chang and Guo were the only couple who got married (in 2010) after their graduation. "We were the 'first love' for each other. We both became journalists after we graduated from college. I think we understand each other very well, at least most of the time," Guo says. She and her husband enjoy spending their weekends and holidays meeting and catching up with former classmates, close friends or coworkers in Xi'an. 

Since China implemented the two-child policy nationwide on January 1, 2016, many couples, who were born in the 1980s, and who had become parents, have been preparing to have a second child. Chang and Guo greeted the birth of their second child in January this year. Not long after their daughter, Kaixin, entered kindergarten, the couple celebrated the birth of their son, Gaoxing. Like many other young parents, they now have to cope with various challenges as they raise their two children.

"It is easy to post the photos we have taken of our baby son to WeChat Moment, to share with our relatives and friends. But, in fact, it is far more difficult to look after him every day. Since we are busy taking care of our children, we can hardly spare the time to hang out with our friends. We don't even have time to go to a movie or a concert on our own. We know it's hard to raise two children, but we are determined to cope with all the difficulties together. Now, we feel more reliant on each other. I guess that's the reason why we enjoy better the happiness of a family with two children," Guo says, with a smile on her face.

Journalists, in general, have tight daily schedules. It is common for them to work during weekends and holidays. Chang and Guo are no exception. However, they do their best to spare at least one day, during each weekend, to spend with their children. They like to take their kids outdoors to play with their friends and/or former classmates' children. "After we return home (from work) every day, we read stories to our children, and we help them take a bath. Those are ways we help our children feel our love and care," Guo explains.

Close Neighborhood 

As the Chinese saying goes, "It is better to have a good neighbor than a relative who lives far from one's home." To ensure their neighbors grew close to each other, Chang and Guo in 2013 registered a WeChat account, Home in Longshou. At that time, the account was Xi'an's first online media outlet established by an individual with the aim of serving people who lived in a residential community. Chang and Guo have used the online platform to organize various events for residents of Longshou. Such events have helped the residents become more familiar with their neighbors.  

"My husband was working for the new media department of Xi'an Evening News in 2013. It was around that period that he learned about the concept of 'we media.' The newly developed form of media highlights citizens' roles in the collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information," Guo recalls. They did not have many followers immediately following establishment of their WeChat account. Their initial goal was to provide as much information as they could to help their neighbors live more conveniently in the community. 

"My husband once wrote an article, entitled 'The 20 Things You Must Know If You Live in the North Suburb of Xi'an.' We posted that article when we were celebrating the fact the number of followers exceeded 1,000. We were shocked that the article attracted more than 100,000 viewers within 24 hours … The number of followers soon increased to almost 10,000," Guo recalls. She and her husband have been impressed by the "surreal" growth in the number of their online followers. 

"We seldom have such an incredible experience when we write articles for traditional media platforms, such as newspapers. That 'surreal' experience, through our WeChat account, made us realize people want to know more about the community in which they live. We have thus made up our minds to operate (the account) better," Guo adds.

Home in Longshou provides information, such as the locations of public sites where people can park their bicycles, and it recommends local restaurants and/or newly opened stores. The couple also uses the account to provide notices of lost pets, rooms/apartments for rent, secondhand goods for sale or exchange, good places for a family's trip during weekends, and some rarely known knowledge about Longshou community. Many of their followers like to read the articles in their spare time. They like to call each other "family members" when they communicate online.

Chang and Guo have used the account to organize several charitable activities. For example, near the end of 2014, they posted a message about the sales of preserved meat, made by people in impoverished villages in Zhenping County, in Ankang (a city in southeastern Shaanxi Province). As such, Chang and Guo helped the villagers earn money before the Spring Festival of 2015 arrived. Many of Longshou's residents purchased the delicious meat when they were preparing for their families' banquets to celebrate Chinese New Year that year. 

Best Partners 

Chang is the best partner for Guo, and vice versa. They share their responsibilities and work well together as they operate their WeChat account. After they return home from work, they often discuss the topics of articles they want to write and post on the account. If they differ on what to write, they discuss their options. However, they never quarrel about such trivial matters. "When we finally post an article after a 'hot discussion,' and if that article receives a lot of feedback, we will feel extremely content, as if we have managed to create a 'new life.' I think the account helps draw us closer to our neighbors. Meanwhile, we feel we are becoming more intimate as husband and wife," Guo says.

Operating the WeChat account has affected the couple's lives. If you open the contact lists of their personal WeChat accounts, you will find the majority of their contacts are their neighbors, who they met via Home in Longshou. "The account we are operating is an important part of our lives. We have come to know people, from all walks of life, through this platform. Many of our followers have made friends with each other. They not only chat on WeChat, they also like to gather during weekends and/or holidays. The account helps them feel the warmth of their neighborhood," Guo notes.

After three years of operating the account, Chang and Guo face new challenges. Due in part to the fierce competition among public accounts, they have to make sure the articles they post on their account are appealing enough to WeChat users. They recently renamed their account, from Home in Longshou to Fanzui (literally meaning "fascinated by food") Action. They want to focus on providing information related to catering services in their community. 

Chang and Guo's family was named one of the nation's "most beautiful families" in May. Chang posed for a photo in front of the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, after he received the award on behalf of his family. That photo is now in the family's living room. Guo says that award reminds her family to be honest. "That award does not give us any pressure or motivation to be what people call 'the most beautiful' (family). For us, 'the most beautiful' means to live 'the most ordinary' life. Be honest with the people whom we meet in our lives, and make them feel our love and care, are the things that my family always believe in," she concludes.


Online 'Home'

A family photo [Provided by Guo Jiazi]

Online 'Home'

The couple at the awarding ceremony [Provided by Guo Jiazi]

Online 'Home'

Guo Jiazi works during the torch relay for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. [Provided by Guo Jiazi]


(Source: Women of China English Monthly November 2016 Issue)

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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