The 'left-behind' generation

Updated: 2012-12-26 08:39

By He Na and Hu Meidong (China Daily)

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Hunt for better economic opportunities takes its toll on families, report He Na and Hu Meidong in Fujian province.

Wearing a small bib patched with different-colored pieces of cloth, his cheeks roughened by long exposure to the cold winter weather, 17-month-old Huang Jie from Guanqi village, Guantou township, Fujian province, appears no different from any of the other local children.

The 'left-behind' generation

Children at Guantou Overseas Chinese Kindergarten. They all hold foreign passports.

Despite his young age, he spares no effort to move a chair taller than himself from one room to another, repeating the deed several times a day.

Fearing he may hurt himself, his grandmother, 48-year-old Liu Huizhen, sometimes bends at the waist and with outstretched arms follows the little boy's steps. The scene is repeated many times every day.

"Olsen! Stop and take a rest!" shout the passing villagers, who can see the boy through the open doorway. Whenever he hears the word "Olsen", the boy stops and raises his head in the direction of the sound before resuming his "work".

"Olsen" is what the local people like to call the boy, and after hearing it so many times he has already managed to make the connection between the name and himself. However, when people call him Huang Jie, he makes no response.

Giving their children English names is fashionable among young couples in China's larger cities, but Olsen's grandparents are farmers, and their knowledge of social fashion is limited. However, their daughter has told them to call the boy Olsen, because it's the name on his passport.

Olsen Huang was born in New York in July, 2011. His parents are both busy working and don't have time to look after him, so his grandparents took him in when he was sent to the village aged just 100 days.

There are many small foreigners living there, according to the village head Li Xiaoming - and he should know, his 1-year-old nephew, Li Youwen, is one of them.

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