BEIJING, July 12, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- A People's Daily report: Since the 1880s, large batches of foreign expatriates have moved to Fuzhou in southeast China's Fujian province. Many of them would spend the summer in Kuliang, or what is known as Guling in Mandarin, a popular summer vacation spot located on the outskirts of Fuzhou.
There they built villas, hospitals, tennis courts, swimming pools, post offices and many other facilities, and established a deep bond with the local residents.
Recently, Kuliang welcomed many old friends from the United States who attended the "Link with Kuliang: China-US People-to-People Friendship Forum 2023." Some of them spent their childhood in Kuliang with their parents, and some have a close relationship with the small Chinese town through their families. Kuliang is like a link that connects them to China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the forum. "I was very happy to hear from the Friends of Kuliang members and learn more moving stories about their connection with Kuliang from their letter," Xi said in the letter.
In 1901, American citizen Milton Gardner came to Fuzhou as a baby with his parents and stayed there until his family moved back to the United States in 1911. Gardner longed to revisit his childhood home, but he had never He was able to fulfill his wish before passing away.
In 1992, Xi, then secretary of the Fuzhou Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, learned of this moving story in an article titled "Ah! Kuliang." He then invited Milton Gardner's widow, Elizabeth Gardner, to visit China, to help fulfill her husband's dying wish.
Since then, the story of Kuliang has become well known to many.
Lee Gardner, Milton Gardner's great-nephew, told People's Daily that his entire family is grateful to Xi for making an elderly American's dream come true, adding that Kuliang's story has touched many people in the United States.
According to the man, who visited Kuliang four times, his grandfather and father were born in Kuliang, and the place was his homeland and also Lee's second hometown. He said that the words of love are universal although in different languages.
He showed People's Daily a photo album his family keeps, which records the deep bond between the Gardners and Kuliang. He said that the album is the most valuable treasure of his family and that it would be presented to the Chinese people as a gift this time he came to Kuliang.
Gail Harris, who once lived in Kuliang as a child, said in Fuzhou dialect "I'm home" as she set foot on Kuliang land again for the forum.
His grandfather, Harry Russell Caldwell, was an expert on the ecological environment of Fujian province and compiled South China Birds, a book that studies bird populations in Kuliang. It is one of the first modern scientific works to record the bird species of China.
Harris noted that Caldwell loved China and the Chinese people, and now her grandchildren have also fallen in love with this country, adding that she misses and loves her time in China very much.
This time, Harris met her childhood friend, Li Yiying. They sat down and exchanged slowly, word for word, in the Fuzhou dialect. The two friends greeted each other with joined hands.
Harris said she hopes the bond in Kuliang will be passed down from generation to generation, so that love and friendship will last forever.
Octogenarian Priscilla Brewster Gill attended the forum accompanied by her granddaughter Katy Barber, reminiscing about the old streets and alleys she remembered from her childhood. China is the hometown where her heart belongs, she Gill said.
Gill was born in Gutian of Fuzhou. His father, Harold Brewster, once ran a clinic in Kuliang and was the last foreign president of what is now Fuzhou Medical University Union Hospital.
Gill lived in China for 12 years and used to help her father take care of patients. She remembered her childhood when she fell and got hurt, the local villagers also helped her with her injuries. She and the locals were like families, Gill said.
Elyn MacInnis, 72, is a senior adviser at the Kuliang Cultural and Tourism Research Association. Her husband, Peter MacInnis, was born in Fuzhou, and her mother-in-law, Donald MacInnis, was a member of the Flying Tigers, a group of American volunteer pilots who came to China and stood shoulder to shoulder with the Chinese people to fight against the japanese invasion.
Over the years, the woman has been committed to spreading the story of Kuliang.
In 2016, he created an English-language website about Kuliang and its history and established the "Friends of Kuliang" group in the United States. Today, the group has more than 50 members and has become a major force in promoting friendly non-governmental exchanges between China and the United States.
Friendship between people is the key to healthy state-to-state relations. Kuliang's story is a great example of the people-to-people friendship between China and the United States.
Although the two countries are currently facing difficulties and challenges in their relations, they are in dire need of improving people-to-people exchanges.
Elyn MacInnis told People's Daily that her older generations lived in Kuliang in the past and got along with the locals, and this part of the story presents well the good qualities of humanity: understanding, respect, peace, friendship and love.
He noted that Kuliang's story belongs not only to China and the United States, but also to all of humanity in general. She hopes that children from all over the world can gather in Kuliang one day and continue the story of Kuliang.
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