A link between China and Scotland for a generation of friends
It began when a young man of 17 years left Dundee and came to China. Adam Varjavandi learned the language, studied Chinese literature, and introduced China to his friends back home. His friends, in particular Sarah Waine (now Wang) and Gillian Ferguson (now Gamble), went on adventures of their own, and in 2007 China’s Ministry of Culture invited us to participate in the Dalian International Beach Carnival.
In 2008 a team of Scottish friends led by Layla Brown travelled to China to conduct the very first international iGNiTE, which established the link between China and Scotland for a generation of friends. In 2009 Jiarun invited us to deliver iGNiTE in Yuhu, a village nestled in the foothills of Jade Dragon Snowtop Mountain. During this trip we promised the dancing old ladies of Yuhu that we would return to make a film.
We did so in 2010 and this film introduced us to He Shang Hui who made us promise to build a library in Yuhu. Fulfilling this promise has been a goal ever since. It led to a needs assessment project (2011), a six-month Lotus Route placement (2013), and the founding of Ai Yue Du (2016). Money donated by The Blackford Trust has been used to train volunteers (2013) and to send 200 English language books to Lijiang (2016).
Ultimately a small team of people we originally met 10 years ago inspired this expedition. From across China they came, and gathered in Lijiang for an amazing REUNION to rekindle old friendships and spark new ones, and help He Jiarun train a new generation of Chinese volunteers.