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Forever Young

10 April 2007


“Study hard when you are young, so you can be an achiever when you grow up; study hard when you’ve grown up, so you can keep young in old age; study hard when you get old, so you will never rot even after death. " This is an online message in a blog run by a 77-year old Shanghai lady.

Blogger writer Mei and her granddaughter

Granny E Mei’s (鄂梅) blog is refreshing like a new-born baby, and hot like a baked potato, among young people in particular. Because young people are most eager to learn and she is most willing to teach.

Mei is a retired Japanese language teacher and, teamed with her granddaughter, has been running a free language program during summer vacation for the past six years. The course is popular, but only accessible to a special few due to the restrictions in time and space. It was not until quite recently when Mei realised there is a brave new classroom out there that can be used day and night, all year round, with no limitation in student intake. Yap, that is blog.

According to the figures revealed by Chinese search engine Baidu, by the end of 2006, more than 20 million Chinese write blogs, and 75 million Chinese read blogs. That’s a lot, by any standards.

So here she is, becoming number 20million+one Chinese blogger and a four season teacher in her free online Japanese language classroom called Sakura House (樱花满屋).

She writes in her blog everyday, posting the materials she collected during her teaching years: the dictionaries, Japanese stories, Japanese jokes, as well as her past experiences, her current opinions and her daily encounters.

The blog becomes a hit. Just few-month old, it has already attracted more than 200 viewers a day with over a thousand feedbacks. Reading some of these comments, you may wonder if you have intruded into an intimate family chatroom. A viewer may say: “Grandma, how come I can’t understand this article.” Another viewer would advice: “You need to learn a bit Japanese before coming here to read Grandma’s post.”

In fact, many of her online visitors indeed become part of her ever expending family, paying her frequent offline visits as they would do to their own grannies.

Blogger Mei and some of her students posing before Shanghai TV station

With an age approaching big eight, she is still a language teacher as she had been for forty years, and a grandma to many who are yet to meet her in person. Armed with new technology, the blog, her life is going strong than ever. In an era of the Net and the Web, the conventional dividing line between working and retirement years may blur out and even fade away.

Welcome to a brave new world in which you may stay forever young.

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