West China Story – our past, present, and future
● The Past - Walking a rugged and barren road
This story begins with Mr. Sayling Wen, a warm-hearted, philanthropic-minded businessman from Taiwan. One story that Mr. Wen enjoyed telling and retelling was about a large stone blocking a walkway. The first person, to walk by this stone tripped on it and fell to the ground. He muttered and cursed and went on his way. The second, to walk by the stone also tripped and fell. He too cursed his bad luck and walked on. However, the third person, after tripping on the stone, picked himself up and removed the stone from the trail.
Mr. Sayling Wen was the third person to walk by that stone – the one who stopped and removed it. After turning 50, he chose to devote himself to solving poverty in the world by education. In addition to a long-standing desire to help and interweave the realms of culture and technology as a way of enriching society,Mr.Sayling Wen looked to help marginalized communities stand up and be recognized using computer and Internet technologies. Western China, was largely isolated from China’s rapid development and modernization, and was an area chronically shackled by its limited infrastructure.
Mr.Sayling Wen founded Town & Talent Technologies Co., Ltd. in 2002，with the idea of networking 1000 schools and 10,000 students across Western China. Town & Talent Technologies Co., Ltd. developed regional hubs for outreach and development. The company supported students from sheepherding agricultural towns by teaching them computer skills during the Age of the Internet, and chipped away at the gap between urban-rural development. A founding idea of Town & Talent Technology was that Internet technologies are the perfect gift to lift the marginalized from poverty and that knowledge is key to creating prosperity. This vision inspired the launch of the Town and Talent Project.Moreover, the farmers of Lahagou Township in Hebei Province began marketing local vegetables through sponsored e-commerce portals. Ultimately selling some 500 metric tons of Lahagou produce in 2003 this was an achievement previously unimaginable in China’s remote western region.
The Yellow Sheep River (YSR) International Conference Center was built and opened in the same year, giving Western China its first 5-star-level hotel and conference venue which invited economists from over the world to develop poverty problem solving solutions.
Mr. Sayling Wen had planted his dream of using the Internet to help marginalized, remote communities in Western China and given youth in the area, hope for a better tomorrow. However, just as his plans had begun to take flight, Mr. Sayling Wen took ill and died in 2003; before he could see his ideas come into fruition .The Tomorrow Studio Co., Ltd. took over and continued operations of the Town & Talent Technologies Co., Ltd.
In July 2007, Ted Wen founded the 'West China Story' project to continue Mr. Sayling Wen's vision of bridging the knowledge gap through technology.The section of Town & Talent Technologies that promoted web education in various schools in Western China was allowed to operate independently.The hope was to bridge the knowledge gap between faculty and students in these remote areas and the rest of the world. He wished to create an open platform for the students in Western China, so that they could stay connected to the world through the Internet. The world could then see who they were as well as their unique environment via their writing.
● The Present - Connecting Western China to the World
Celebrating its first 11 years in 2018, the West China Story project has been highly successful in nurturing the creative writing talents of local students and in discovering a treasure trove of local culture and heritage. The project has been joined by 276 schools and nearly 23,000 students. The 234 thousand stories written and saved so far, form the core of a treasured database of Western Chinese heritage, while also offering a window onto the thinking and growth of students in this region.
The West China Story project was spun off from Town & Talent Technologies in January 2016 as Talent and Story Technologies (Tianjin) Co., Ltd. The new company reaffirmed its mission to realize Mr.Sayling Wen’s dream of reaching out to Western China and making the world a better place. Under CEO Ted Wen, the West China Story project was reaffirmed, using students’ original stories to observe and record daily life in the region and to make a record of Western China’s unique culture and heritage.
Several rounds of the West China Story - Original Writing Competition have been held since this activity was launched in September 2016. Thousands of students from one hundred schools in 36 counties of 7 provinces in Western China joined a single competition. This has grown into one of the most important competitive events celebrating and promoting Western China. The writings of the winners will be translated into English and promoted through a variety of media channels. It further provides a platform for local students to promote local tradition and unique heritage to the world. Moreover, the world will be able to understand Western China through these stories.
● The Furture - A Fair Starting Point
All of this effort is being made to give these students a fair start in life, giving them the chance to express themselves and to develop their potential.
A student’s life experiences, environment, and family situation all combined to create a unique individual. Although the life experiences and observations of these students may not seem particularly special to those in their own community, they are frequently quite insightful and interesting to those who are unfamiliar with Western China.
The West China Story platform helps students improve their Internet and writing skills, giving them the tools and motivation to compose stories that develop both self-awareness and an appreciation for their local culture and community.
We hope that the allure of Western China will inspire many more charitably minded people to join the West China Story project. Together, we can continue building this extraordinary and interactive platform, reduce the urban-rural gap in Internet knowledge, and give students in remote Western China a much-deserved, equal chance to compete and succeed in the Internet of today and tomorrow.