2018 in review

Ten feel-good stories of 2018 – of people overcoming adversity, inspiring others, finding their roots

  • Put aside the world’s troubles and end the year on a high note
  • Read about the blind violinist who commutes 12 hours for lessons, the yoga class for old folk, the Chinese adoptees back helping the country of their birth
PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 December, 2018, 10:09am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 December, 2018, 10:09am

In a year blighted by wars in Syria and Yemen to Facebook data breaches, we want to bring you some good news by looking back at some stories that made us feel all warm and fuzzy.

1. Reconnecting with their Chinese roots

In January we brought you the story of a tour group in southern China that’s helping Chinese-Americans reconnect with their past, taking them on emotional tours to Guangdong to seek out their roots. For almost 30 years the non-profit has been helping Chinese Americans discover their family histories there in visits that can stir up strong emotions, reinforce participants’ Chinese identity and lift a veil on forebears’ sacrifices.

Read more here

2. She’s not bowing to disability

The story of a blind Chinese teenaged violinist who commutes 12 hours for lessons in Hong Kong is a beautiful one. Ding Yijie became blind at 15, but that didn’t dampen her positive spirit, nor her passion for playing the violin. Every few weeks she travels from Foshan in southern China with her mother to study at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Read more here

3. Old folks take it to the mat

You’re never too old to do the downward facing dog – just look at the elderly Hongkongers who have discovered yoga in their twilight years.

Yoga classes for the elderly have grown in the city and proved popular, the participants enjoying yoga’s many health benefits, from lowering blood pressure to lessening chronic pain and improving balance.

Read more here

4. Hyper exerciser

There’s no keeping Bollywood dance instructor Victor Kumar down. He’s at the forefront of a growing trend for highly motivational instructors who give exercise a fresh twist. Keeping his excitable personality and energy under control, though, takes work.

Read more here

5. The power of music

A Chinese migrant workers’ band spreads music and joy to labourers away from home in the Yangtze River Delta. Migrant labours make up one-third of China’s workforce, yet despite this they are often marginalised. For the past eight years, a band made up of 30 workers has been using their music to spread joy to fellow labourers.

Read more here

6. Wood and it be lovely

Wooden homes have been given a new lease of life by an antique dealer on a mission to preserve tradition. The antique furniture collector scours ancient Huizhou in China for the finest examples of Hui architecture, takes the structures apart and transports them to Beijing for safekeeping.

Read more here

7. Return to China

A year after an adopted girl was reunited with her birth parents on a bridge in Hangzhou, eastern China, we catch up with her again – back in China to teach English and learn about herself. Kati Pohler, of the American state of Michigan, is getting to know her birth family. Her emotional reunion with her long-lost Chinese mother, father and sister was watched by millions the world over in a BBC documentary.

Read more here

8. From turmoil to triumph

After a painful split from his long-term boyfriend, Dennis Philipse founded LGBT+ outdoor activities group Out in Hong Kong, and its popularity encouraged him to push successfully for the city to host the 2022 Gay Games, a showpiece sports event.

Read more here

9. Orphan comes full circle, helps others

Tears of happiness rolled for this story about a Chinese orphan who now works in Hong Kong role for her adoptive mother’s childcare foundation. Jenny Bowen adopted baby Maya in 1997, then went on to set up orphanages across China. Maya, now 23, works as a programme coordinator at the OneSky Centre in Hong Kong.

Read more here

10. Urban migration goes into reverse

This month we brought you the story of Chinese PhDs and MBAs who have given up city life for farming, driven by a desire to improve agriculture and rural livelihoods or disenchanted with the pressures of urban living. They practise organic farming and water conservation, hoping to set an example for fellow farmers, and revive traditional techniques.

Read more here