Every month Viori's sustainability team visits Longsheng for our local Beautiful Reason Initiatives and to spend time with our friends in the village. In the interview below we sat down with Pan Qi Yun, who has been a part of Viori's family from the very start.
INTERVIEW WITH Pan Qi Yun:
Hi Auntie Qiyun! You have been a Viori Ambassador since Viori started by being so generous in sharing your culture with us and allowing us a firsthand experience into your daily life. To thank you for this we'd like to take a moment to appreciate all your doing and put you in the spotlight a bit by doing a brief interview with you.
Could you first share a bit about your background?
I was born in 1963. I have an old brother, an older sister, and a little brother. I have two sons. I got married when I was 18 years old after I met my husband 2 years earlier. When I was a child, my older sister and I never went to school for even one day just because of our gender – girls were mostly not allowed by their parents to go to school. My parents always preferred boys over girls, they only let our brothers go to school. I had to stay at home to help my parents with housework. I was upset about not having the equal opportunity to go to school as my brothers. My childhood was very tough, I started cooking for 9 people when I was 6 years old. We didn’t have enough food to eat, mostly just some sweet potatoes and taro.
What are some of your favorite memories of when you were a child?
My favorite memory would be to take the ducks that I caught to the river and watch them swim. I was so surprised that they were born with swimming skill. I also went swimming with other kids in the river and catching frogs and small river fish. We always had a lot of fun.
How about after childhood – do you have any memories of that part of your life?
Well, getting married and having children and working in the rice fields are my only real memories – we did not have any extra money to do things or buy things, so we just basically lived day by day and made our ends meet – trying to stay healthy and happy at home and in our community.
Can you tell us a bit about how you and your husband met and how you raised a family?
We are from the same village, but we didn’t know each other very well. We started getting to know each other on a group trip together with so many other kids. We started dating when we were 17, got married at the age of 18, had our first child at the age of 19. My husband went to the town to work as a carpenter, and I stayed at home to take care of the children and worked on the farm. When it got to the harvest season, he would come home to help with the harvest.
Looking at modern families now, what are the main differences you see between how you raised your kids and how kids are raised now?
We had to take the kids to work with us into the mountains in the past, because there was no one at home could take care of them. It was very tough, we always worked late, we would also carry a bundle of firewood to the house from the mountains. Now with the help of grandparents, the young couples are not living as hard as we were back then.
What about your current life? What does your average day look like?
My husband and I are now growing some rice, sweet potato, and chili pepper. My sons work in the city to support the family. My average day is to prepare breakfast, then I feed the pig, then go to the viewpoint to do some business. I sew when I am not busy. And I go home around 6 every day, then make dinner for the family and eat, I would sew or weave before I go to sleep. That’s my routine, it’s pretty much the same every day.
What would you say your dream(s) is/are?
My dream is I could go to Beijing to see the Chairman Mao and go to Shanghai for visiting. But I don’t read, it’s hard to go too far, because I can get lost easily.
You have such an elegant and beautiful glow over you! What's your secret to being so beautiful?! (Besides the rice water :)
I think it’s because the air in the mountains is fresh, the quality of water is great, and all the food we eat is grown by ourselves, which is very healthy.
We love it when you sing! Could you tell us a bit about your interest in signing?
When I was 12 years old, we didn’t have entertainment like TV at home, my brother was working during the day, he wanted to make me happy, so he would teach me to sing when he came home at night. I enjoy singing the Red Yao folk songs the most, that is also the only kind of songs I sing. Singing makes me very happy - I really love it.
We really hope travel to Longsheng will soon be possible again for our oversees customers. What delicious food would you recommend people try when they visit your village?
Home raised chicken, small river fish, sweet potatoes baked in the fire, and oil tea. All very delicious and must haves when visiting Longsheng!