Cultural Preservation Project

The Cultural Preservation Project is a collaboration between a minority village and the Center/Exidea, in a village that is experiencing the loss of their culture and the loss of interest in that culture by the young people. Mostly this has happened because the young people in the village now have to go to the town to go to school and remain there throughout the week, only returning to the village on the weekends and holidays. At school, they are exposed to the mainstream culture, must learn Mandarin and are given the impression that the mainstream culture is better than the minority culture, that the minority culture is backward and poor. Minority students want to fit into the school life, to dress like others and to value what the others value, so they repudiate the values that they were brought up with in the village, begin to lose their native language, and lose interest in the clothes, food and special customs of their minority. Usually, the older people in the village do not notice this change at first. Most of them have simply stayed in the village and had little contact with the mainstream culture. It is only when the situation is pointed out to them that they become concerned and want to do something about it. The other change that is impacting culture is the availability of TV in the village. TV promotes the values of the mainstream culture and does little to praise minority values. Exidea has found that when volunteers come to a village and are very interested in the minority culture’s clothes, food, dances, songs, language and ceremonies, young people of the village begin to get interested too and when volunteers talk about the value of minority cultures, villagers also begin to see the value. Volunteers meet with each household in the village, determine which villagers carry the knowledge of how to sew the clothes, do the dances, sing the songs etc. and then set up an on-going team of villagers that will teach the children each weekend. Another help is if the village has a place where ceremonies and dances can be done and where the whole village can gather together. This can be created by villagers and volunteers working together.