It's Not a Small World After All

Less than 20 years ago just a few (relatively speaking) people thought about where the stuff they bought came from, mostly because of political reasons. I was introduced to the Boycott Made in China movement in the early '00's when I lived in protest-ready Seattle.

Still, I was on the fence with this issue. The Chinese people, like anyone, were happy to have jobs to bring them out of poverty. But I'd also heard about terrible working conditions and 12 year-olds making iPods.

However I was becoming more and more annoyed by American's belief that cheaper is better. Until recently it seemed that the majority of Americans didn't care about who made what, that is, until our own country started doing badly.

But the main reason I couldn't take a stance was because it was hard for me to see a real face on the issue. (Though my own personal solution was to shop less and almost exclusively at thrift stores.)

A few more details were filled in for me when I came across Leslie T. Chang's Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China. The author chronicles the lives of two young Chinese women who traded in their rural youths for the excitement of the unknown in huge, anonymous factory cities on the southern coast of China. The book weaves the migrants' stories together with Chang's own Chinese family background.

I interviewed Leslie last week as part of my author interview special that will air on the WMNF Evening News on Monday, December 27th from 6-7 p.m. You can listen to an excerpt of the interview that played on last night's newscast.

My conclusion is that globalization is tricky, especially when it seems as if the success of one country is based on the downfall of another. But this is where education is key, and learning as much as possible makes the clean up of whatever mess we're in easier on us all.

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