Tomorrow I leave the CERS center in Shangri La, Yunnan Province China, after a ten day experience chaperoning 6 students along with two other colleagues. CERS, which stands for China Exploration Research Society consists of a small group of researchers and explorers dedicated to preserving, in whatever way they can, the cultures of ethnic minorities in China, many of which are rapidly transforming due to state efforts at modernization and development.
In the past ten days we visited and witnessed a great variety of projects that CERS has initiated and undertaken, including the revival of a once obscure Tibetan nunnery, the conservation of a species known as the Snub Nosed Monkey, the repurposing of traditional Lisu (Tibetan Mountain People) houses, the collection of their cultural artifacts, the revival of their cultural heritage through the development of a crossbow festival, the construction of an eco-lodge where local peoples engage in the production of yak cheese, and more.
I would be lying if I said that their work is unimpressive. In that their projects usually start from humble beginnings, Wong How Man’s efforts have been nothing but extraordinary in their impact. Many questions develop as you move from site to site: including, for me, the major question of the role CERS plays in crafting a renewed appreciation for the local environment while simultaneously drawing tourists and related consumer industries which will inevitably shape, for better or worse (depending how you want to see it), the future of those places. In the face of rapid development and modernization, how “authentic” will be the efforts of those desiring to preserve the cultures of peoples destined to history?
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- mywakingworld answered: Hey, I’m living here in China and I’m wondering what would be the best way possible to get involved with this CERS organization? Thanks allot
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