This month I am doing a series on my top favorite moments in China over the past decade. These are in no particular order.
Selling matchbooks. I was living in the northeast of China, which is close to the border of North Korea. Temperatures outside would reach 30 below 0 degrees on some days (but nice and toasty warm inside). It was basically like a frozen tundra.
A student was moved by the story “The Little Matchbook Girl” (Hans Christian Anderson) about a little girl who sold matchbooks to raise money for food. The tragic part of the story is that at the end the little girl died in the cold. Yes, I know, terrible story. However, because he was so inspired by this story the student decided he wanted to sell matchbooks to raise money for the local orphanage.
On what I am convinced was the coldest day of the year, our team helped him. We stood on the little corner outside next to the student dorms. Matchbooks were sold for about a dime each. We bounced around, sang songs, and implored students to buy our matchbooks. Students would ask why we were doing this and we would tell them. I’m not sure how much we raised that night, but even the insanely cold weather couldn’t defeat our enthusiasm.
I tell you, though- that hot bowl of noodles that greeted us later never tasted so good!