In Memory of Rena Krasno--Preface for Rena Krasno’s Last Bo
Time：2013-10-20 16:21 Source：未知 Writer：Pan Guang read：
In Memory of Rena Krasno
Preface for Rena Krasno’s Last Book
ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHNAGHAI
By Pan Guang
In the spring of 1989, I met Rena Krasno in California, USA. Rena was very excited to see me, the guy from Shanghai. She asked me many questions about the city’s changes and development. Her love for China and Shanghai moved me, especially when she said, “I really want to go back to my hometown—Shanghai, which I have left for 40 years.”
In 1994, I got the chance to help Rena return to Shanghai. At that time, with the support of the Shanghai government, we decided to host the first international academic conference with the theme of “Jews in Shanghai”. As a member of the conference’s organizing committee, I suggested inviting Rena to attend and deliver a speech at the conference.
She recorded her feelings about revisiting Shanghai at the end of this book. She said that she could not express in words how excited she was upon receiving that invitation. She was trembling as the plane descended for landing. As soon as she set foot on Shanghai soil, she felt she had returned home. Rena delivered a wonderful speech at the conference. She said, her nationality aside, Shanghai was her hometown, because she was born and raised in the city. How touching is that?
In those days, Rena had been immersed in her memories and recollections. She walked along Huaihai Road (formerly Avenue Joffre) for a long time and never got tired. She revisited Aurora University (Shanghai Second Medical University in 1994) and College Municipal Français (currently Shanghai Science Hall), where had studied. She spent a lot of time in the city’s old district and tasted many local snacks, such as bannock, twisted crullers and roasted sweet potatoes. Sometimes, she just sat and watched Shanghai people going about their time, living their lives. She also visited the Tower Apt. (Xiangyang South Road Junction, Huaihai Middle Road) where she was brought up. There, she recalled her parents’ love for her again in her “boudoir”.
She has visited the city many times since then. I can’t remember how many visits she has made to Shanghai, which she called “the city of youth”. I am her loyal companion during her visits. Every time, we look around the city and discuss the changes it has undergone. She will tell the graduates in the institute many stories. I will meet her when I visit Mountain View, California. I have forgotten how many times we have sat together for a long talk, without regard for passing time.
Rena is one of the Shanghai people who can’t speak the local dialect. The history of Shanghai shows that it has always been an open city. People could come and go freely —sometimes, even without passports and visas. Industrialists started their businesses in Shanghai, refugees found safe haven in Shanghai, and adventurers discovered “paradise” in Shanghai. Different languages, custom, beliefs and people from all races assemble in the city. As the intersection of cultural integration, the city has become an international metropolis. Shanghai culture has developed under such circumstances. It integrates different cultures of China and other countries, and is characterized by openness and internationalism.
Rena was born in a Jewish family and brought up in Shanghai culture. It can be said that she has an integrated Chinese and Jewish cultural background. She had stayed in Israel for some time, and then worked in the United Nations for many years. She can speak six languages and has travelled many places around the world. At last, she decided to settle down in the USA.
Rena’s experience reflects the competition and complementation of multiculturalism, which is developed by adopting a multitude of approaches to life rather than a single one. It’s like a long river with many tributaries. Each tributary is distinctive, but they will join together at the mouth to the sea. Such experiences make Rena’s works rich and varied. They have the characteristics of different cultures, with the essence of Shanghai culture welling up from deep inside.
Although the stories of Rena took place in old Shanghai, she still feels very excited about the change and development of modern Shanghai.
Thirty years ago, China started to carry out the reform and opening policies. It opened up to the world and began to boom. Under such circumstances, the openness and internationalism of Shanghai culture was highlighted and brought to new heights. That is why there are so many people from other parts of China and other countries in Shanghai today. Figures from 2002 indicate that 2.1 million foreigners came to Shanghai and stayed here for a certain period that year. It is predicted that 70 million people will visit the city by 2010, when the Shanghai World Expo is slated to run. It is said that Shanghai now has more than 150,000 foreigners, nearly equal to the peak number in the 1930s.
These people from other areas of China and other countries have become the “new Shanghai people”. The cultures they bring to Shanghai make Shanghai culture more attractive and have become the new landmarks of the city’s development.
Meanwhile, many Chinese people, especially those from Shanghai, have gone abroad for business, education or travel. This drives Shanghai’s cultural development, making the city more influential in the world.
All of these factors provide new elements for Rena’s books and encourage her to write more excellent works.
As a good friend of Rena, I am so proud of her for having written so many excellent works. She is now over 80 years old. But she told me she had another four books to be published later. I know they must contain many stories about Shanghai.
I truly hope Rena will be able to keep her youth forever and write more stories about Shanghai.
November 6, 2008
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