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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

SLM Students' Insights on Innovation Infusion Events: Dr. Geoffrey Godbey (Sir Yue-Kong Pao)

By Maren Schullerus and Evelyn Pan

This Innovation Infusion presentation was given by Dr. Geoffrey Godbey and concerned reforming leisure in China and potential implications for Nanaimo. He started his presentation with talking about Chinese influences in Canada and British Columbia. Eleven percent of Canada’s and BC’s population is of Chinese origin. The West Coast of North America, which includes Vancouver and Vancouver Island, seems to attract Chinese immigrants. Dr. Godbey mentioned that a similar climate and well established Chinese communities are reasons for this development. He also mentioned that the environmental pollution in China increases immigration. According to Dr. Godbey, Canada and B.C. need Chinese immigrants in order to stabilize their population. B.C. has a fertility rate of 1.4. A rate of 2.1 is necessary to keep the population steady.
In the second part of his presentation, Dr. Godbey talked about leisure in China and how it is being reformed. The most important influences on leisure in China are limited free time, urbanization, passive attitudes towards leisure, and women’s limited role in society. According to Dr. Godbey, leisure reforms in the Western World are led by citizen organizations, which do not exist in China. Leisure in China can be divided into two categories: core activities and balance activities. Core activities are those activities that are done on a regular basis and are close to home and inexpensive. Balance activities are costly and are away from home, such as visiting a theme park, or eating at a fancy restaurant. Apparently, there are leisure reforms being implemented, such as traffic calming zones. It is important that the Chinese government does more in order to benefit from the effects of leisure, such as decreasing health costs, more exercise for citizens, and harmonization, the Chinese equivalent of sustainability. 

According to Dr. Godbey leisure in a Chinese context has relevance for Nanaimo, as Nanaimo is predicted to be the next big place for Chinese immigrants after Vancouver and leisure plays a big role in acclimation.

As many students in our SLM class are from China, Dr. Godbey’s presentation was very interesting and valuable. The following part of this report is a Chinese perspective on some of the issues Dr. Godbey addressed in his Innovation Infusion session.

China is situated in eastern Asia on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean, with an area of 9.6 million square kilometers. With the population of 1.3 billion, China has become the most populous nation on the planet. Modern China is quite different from the past in terms of many aspects with the rapid development in recent decades.

Environment issues
China's environmental crisis is one of the most pressing challenges to emerge from the country's rapid industrialization. Sixteen of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in China 
(Modern China: The Promise and Challenge of an Emerging Superpower, 2008). Two-thirds of all Chinese cities do not meet Chinese standards for air quality, standards which are less stringent than those in the US or EU. Two-thirds of China’s rural population has access only to contaminated water. Only 10% of China’s environmental laws are enforced. Cancer rates across China have risen dramatically as pollution has increased. It is estimated that up to 750,000 Chinese people die prematurely from cancer and respiratory diseases linked to pollution.

These facts are really frightening to every single Chinese person, and environmental issue is a big stimulation to immigration these years. As the latest policy of tightening Canada immigration came out, it will be a tremendous shift for both Canada and China like Dr. Geoffrey said in the lecture, and nobody can predict what will happen next.

China has already undertaken some measurement to deal with these severe pollutions, and China couldn’t afford to delay the environmental reforming anymore. With the help from external resources to keep the plan stay on track, I wish the day of Chinese citizens can see a clean blue sky and breathe the fresh air is no longer a dream.

Leisure reforms
Aimed at hastening development, however, people somehow forgot all about free time nowadays. In this fast-paced modern society, people need some leisure activities to relax in order to maintain a good state both of body and mind.

Leisure activities can happen anywhere, at any time as long as government plays a vital role in guiding a right direction. Within the context of China, among or around the residential areas, leisure squares, fitness center, teahouse, etc. can be built for people to entertain. Besides these traditional infrastructures, typical shopping centers and amusement parks can also be the good choices for people to have leisure activities. People care more and more about their health, in order to provide an ideal and convenient environment for people to relax, the incorporation and guidance of government is significant.

China is being changed by a rapidly changing world; I believe that China could continue going along the right road and solve thorny problems as soon as possible and the bright future is somewhere that is not far away.

Reference:
Modern China: The Promise and Challenge of an Emerging Superpower. (2008). Issue 2. Retrieved January 24, 2014, from http://worldsavvy.org/monitor/index.php?option=com_content&id=143&Itemid=166
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