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Foundation vows to carry on Snow spirit

发布日期:2022-02-28 作者: 点击:[]

(来源:中国日报)



From left: Helen Foster Snow's nephew John Foster, great-nephew Adam Foster and niece Debra Foster visit "Aunt Tilly's house", where Snow lived for a few years while going to school in Salt Lake City. ZHANG YUAN/CHINA DAILY


Organization's head 'very pleased' when he gets Xi's letter, praises intl friendship

Adam Foster, a great-nephew of trailblazing United States journalist Helen Foster Snow, has long believed in the value of building connections between nations through people coming together.

His great-aunt, together with Edgar Snow, whom she met and married in China, had championed the practice by making the Communist Party of China known to the world through their writings on the Party and the Chinese revolution.

If ever Adam Foster could do with some reinforcement on the need for people-to-people exchanges, it came in late January in the form of a letter from President Xi Jinping. Xi told Foster in the letter that he highly appreciates the positive contributions made by his family to the development of relations between China and the United States over the years.

The president highlighted the work of the Helen Foster Snow Foundation, an organization named after the accomplished journalist and writer in her own right who helped convey a more accurate picture of China to the world.

Xi said he hopes that Foster and the foundation, based in Utah, will continue to follow the example of Edgar and Helen Snow.

Foster, the foundation's president, told China Daily's Edgar Snow Newsroom: "I'm grateful that the leaders of our countries understand the importance of people-to-people relationships and building bridges and working together. Our work has also received a tremendous amount of support from people across the United States and China. So to me, this really is international friendship in action."

Foster spoke of feeling "very pleased" when he received Xi's letter, a treasured delivery ahead of Spring Festival. The president's words of encouragement came in response to a letter Foster had sent him.

Foster decided to write to Xi when he was taking stock of the foundation's accomplishments over the past four years to "emphasize the spirit of international friendship, which Helen Foster Snow embodied".

Last year marked the 90th anniversary of Helen Foster's arrival in China, and Adam Foster said he wanted to thank the Chinese people for honoring his great-aunt's work over the years.

Adam Foster let slip that there's also a connection between Helen Foster Snow and Xi Zhongxun, father of President Xi. Helen Foster Snow encouraged her friend Rewi Alley to establish the Bailey School in Shandan, Gansu province, in 1940 to help underprivileged children get an education.

"Later, I learned that Rewi Alley invited President Xi's father to serve as an honorary principal of the Bailey School," he said.

"So the spirit of international friendship, which Helen began so long ago, continues today. And I think this spirit was really echoed by President Xi's letter."

With his great-aunt's charitable work in mind, Foster said that China's feat of raising millions of people out of poverty counts as the most remarkable change he has witnessed over the years.

Foster said the foundation is committed to creating a platform for dialogue, engagement and practical cooperation focusing on exchanges in education, culture and business, as well as in the subnational sphere.

To achieve that goal, the foundation is working with universities, museums and other institutions to promote language learning, education and cultural exchanges.

"For example, we are working with partners in Jiangxi province to create a ceramic cultural center based in Utah, to share this amazing cultural tradition of ceramic artistry with Americans; with Northwest University in Xi'an, we are working to promote the Helen Foster Snow Translation Award to be a world-class translation competition," he said.

The foundation is also planning to create a high-level award in Helen Foster Snow's name to recognize those who have helped to build bridges between the peoples of China and other nations.

Foster said that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation has held several events in Chinese provinces to share his great-aunt's work as a photojournalist in 1930s China. "Events like these create a chance for subnational governments to engage and dialogue with each other on nonsensitive topics," he said.

Last year, his daughter Makenna Foster was chosen as a young ambassador to represent the US at the Silk Road Children's Emissary for Chinese New Year.

"We feel the best way to honor Helen is to continue the work she was engaged in, adapted to current conditions," Foster said.

Adam Foster's first connection with China came when he met a Chinese student in southern France when he was 19. He was serving as a volunteer for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a faith whose adherents are known as Mormons.

"While there, I met a young college student named Ge Yi from Beijing who was studying art at the university in Marseille," Foster said. "He was the first person from China I had ever met. I told him I was related to Helen Foster Snow and he said, 'Wow, your family is very famous!' I didn't really know what that meant at the time since I had never been to China."

Of course, he heard about his great-aunt's trip to China when the US and China resumed contact in the early 1970s.

However, he had no clue of the impact she had on China and US-China relations. He remembered her mostly as a generous family member who, while not wealthy herself, helped to pay for his father's college education.

Helen Foster went to China in 1931 and reported on China for several US publications. There she met Edgar Snow and married him. In 1937, she traveled to Yan'an, befriended Red Army leader Mao Zedong and was granted full access to other Communist leaders and the military. Her photos gave a big boost to Edgar Snow's celebrated book Red Star Over China, which amplified Mao's thinking on the world stage.

The Snows also helped to develop Chinese Industrial Cooperatives – the Gung Ho movement – to create jobs and income for Chinese people to gain economic power against the Japanese invaders. She returned to the US in 1940 and resumed contact with China following president Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972. Little known in the US, Helen Foster Snow is a household name in China.

Adam Foster became friends with Ge and calls him his very first Chinese friend.

"The most astonishing thing was how alike we were. His sense of humor was similar to my own. He was honest, hardworking and very hospitable," Foster recalled. "These were values that I was taught at a young age growing up in the culture of Utah, and I marveled how someone who lived on the other side of the world could be so similar to the people I grew up with."

That encounter prompted Foster to read Helen Foster Snow's work My China Years after he returned to Utah to attend college.

"I was spellbound learning about 1930s China, Helen and Edgar Snow's courtship, the Dec 9 Movement, the Xi'an Incident, Helen's escape from her hotel window to visit Yan'an, and the Chinese Industrial Cooperative (Gung Ho) Movement. It had romance, adventure and intrigue. I remember thinking, this should be a movie!"

In 2016, Adam Foster was invited to China by Northwest University in Xi'an and spent several days traveling to sites associated with Helen and Edgar Snow's past.

In 2018, Foster visited again to attend the dedication ceremony for the Gung Ho Museum in Baoji, Shaanxi province. There, he realized how the model of Utah's industrial cooperatives promoted by Brigham Young, Utah's first governor, had been promoted by Snow in China and then India.

Inspired by his great-aunt, Foster established the Helen Foster Snow Foundation in 2018 to continue her remarkable legacy of bridge-building, and he has never looked back.

Find more audio news on the China Daily app.

记者:May Zhou、Nathan Willian

播报:Corrie Knight


【背景阅读】

接过海伦·福斯特·斯诺的火炬

距离美国记者海伦·福斯特·斯诺第一次来到中国已经差不多91年。1937年,在中华民族生死存亡的危急关头,年轻的海伦孤身一人,西行延安,记录了窑洞内外的人和事,也记录下历史转折关头的中国共产党和中国工农红军。她和埃德加·斯诺从中国发出报道,撰写《红星照耀中国》(又称《西行漫记》)等书籍,让世界第一次真正了解到中国共产党和中国革命。

近期,中国日报社新斯诺工作室专访了美国犹他州海伦·福斯特·斯诺基金会主席亚当·福斯特。春节前不久,福斯特刚收到中国国家主席习近平的回信,他表示自己“感到非常高兴”。

习主席在信中高度赞赏海伦·福斯特·斯诺家族多年来为中美关系发展作出的积极贡献,希望福斯特和基金会继续以埃德加和海伦为榜样。

“我很感激我们两国的领导人明白人与人之间的关系以及建立桥梁的重要性。我们的工作也得到了美国和中国人民的大力支持。”福斯特在专访时说,“所以对我来说,这真的是国际友谊的体现。”

福斯特说,他在总结基金会过去四年的成就时决定给习近平主席写信,强调海伦·福斯特·斯诺所体现的国际友谊精神。

2021年是海伦·福斯特·斯诺来华90周年,福斯特说他非常感谢中国人民多年来对海伦工作的尊重。

福斯特说,海伦当年鼓励她的朋友路易·艾黎在甘肃山丹建立培黎学校,帮助贫困青年接受教育。

“后来我得知,路易·艾黎邀请习主席父亲担任过培黎学校的名誉校长。”对福斯特来说,这种联系非常有意义。

“因此,海伦很久以前就秉持的国际友谊精神今天仍在继续。我认为习主席的回信也真正体现了这种精神。”福斯特说。

福斯特在专访中还表示,中国亿万人口摆脱贫困,“这一成就绝对令世界惊叹”。

“无论是我本人还是我听到的其他人在中国的亲身经历,我们一致认为中国的城市正在变得越来越现代化,人们的生活条件也得到了显著改善。”福斯特说道。

福斯特表示,中国人民在物质上有了巨大变化,但对外国人的友好和热情丝毫未减。

福斯特表示,基金会致力于打造一个以双边教育、文化、商业和地方交流为重点的对话和务实合作平台。

为了实现这一目标,基金会正在与大学、博物馆和其他机构合作,促进语言学习、教育和文化交流。“例如,我们正在与江西省合作,在犹他州创建一个陶瓷文化中心,与美国人分享令人惊叹的中国陶瓷艺术传统文化;我们还与位于西安的西北大学合作,努力将海伦·福斯特·斯诺翻译奖打造成世界级的翻译比赛项目。”他说。

该基金会还计划以海伦的名义设立一个高级奖项,以表彰那些为促进中国人民和其他国家人民关系作出贡献的人。

福斯特表示,基金会在中国举办了数次活动,介绍海伦20世纪30年代在中国作为摄影记者的成就。“这类活动为地方政府创造了一个交流机会,在非敏感话题上相互接触和对话。”他说。

去年,他的女儿马克娜·福斯特作为年轻的文化使者,代表美国参加丝绸之路儿童使者的中国新年活动。

“我们认为向海伦致敬的最佳方式是,适应现在的形势,继续她从事的事业。”福斯特说。

福斯特与中国的第一次接触发生在他19岁时。当时他在法国南部担任耶稣基督后期圣徒教会(摩门教)志愿者,结识了一名中国留学生。

“在那里,我遇到了来自北京的年轻大学生葛毅,他正在马赛大学学习艺术。他是我见过的第一个来自中国的人。我告诉他我和海伦·福斯特·斯诺有亲属关系。他说,‘哇,你家很有名!’当时我真的不知道这意味着什么,因为我从未去过中国。”福斯特说。

当然,在20世纪70年代初中美恢复联系时,他也听说了伯祖母海伦·福斯特·斯诺访问了中国。然而,他对其对中国和中美关系的影响一无所知。他只知道她是一个慷慨大方的人,虽然她并不富裕,依然帮助支付了他父亲的大学教育费用。

海伦1931年赴华,向多家美国刊物提供中国相关报道。在那里,她遇到了美国记者埃德加·斯诺,两人恋爱结婚。1937年,她前往延安,结识了中国革命的领导人毛泽东,获得全面接触共产党领导人和军队的机会。她拍摄的大量照片为埃德加·斯诺的著作《红星照耀中国》增色生辉,让世界认识了毛泽东。

此外,海伦帮助发展中国工业合作社(工合运动),为中国人增加就业机会和收入,增强对抗日本侵略者的经济实力。她1940年返回美国,在1972年尼克松总统访华后又恢复与中国的联系。在美国鲜为人知的她在中国却家喻户晓。

福斯特在法国与葛毅成为朋友,并称他为他的第一个中国朋友。“最令人惊讶的是我们是如此相似。他的幽默感与我相似。他为人诚实,工作努力,非常好客。这些是我从小在犹他州的文化中熏染的价值观,我惊叹于生活在世界另一端的人居然与我身边其他人如此相似。”福斯特回忆道。

那次相遇促使福斯特在回到犹他州上大学期间阅读了斯诺的著作《我在中国的岁月》。

“书中描述了20世纪30年代的中国、海伦和埃德加·斯诺的相爱、‘一二·九’运动、西安事变、海伦从酒店窗口逃出前往延安以及中国工业合作社运动,充满浪漫、冒险和神秘,我为之着迷。我当时在想,这可以拍一部电影!”

2016年,福斯特应西北大学的邀请来中国,参观了海伦和埃德加·斯诺当年生活过的地方。

“他们谈到了海伦和埃德加对中国人民和整个亚洲的不可思议的影响。我终于明白葛毅说的‘哇,你家很有名啊!’是什么意思。”

2018年,福斯特再次访华,出席陕西宝鸡工合博物馆落成典礼。在那里,他目睹了犹他州首任州长杨百翰提倡的工业合作社模式如何早已被斯诺在中国和印度推广。

受到伯祖母的经历和成就激励,福斯特在2018年建立了海伦·福斯特·斯诺基金会,以继承这位非凡女性的遗产,一路向前。

责任编辑:钱耐安



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