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Man of many words
发布时间:2018年09月25日  来源:China Daily  作者:Mei Jia  阅读:300


The pinnacle of Zhang Mingzhou's career came recently when he was elected president of the International Board on Books for Young People-the first Chinese person to do so in its 65-year history.

[Photo provided to China Daily]


When Zhang Mingzhou, a research fellow of Charhar Institute, was elected head of an international organization for children's books, his peers knew they had found the right candidate for the job, Mei Jia reports.


For a man who grew up in a remote border village in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, Zhang Mingzhou's career has been nothing short of extraordinary.


Starting out as a junior diplomatic staff member, he later became a cultural exchange agent before becoming a publishing copyright manager. Yet the pinnacle of his career came recently when he was elected president of an international organization for children's books - the first Chinese person to do so in its 65-year history.


"I would not have dared to have dreamed about this life without the aspirations I developed when I was growing up reading books," Zhang says in his acceptance speech.


When it was announced that Zhang had been awarded the presidency of the International Board on Books for Young People on Sep 1 in Athens during the IBBY's 36th biennial congress, which saw 600 delegates from 79 countries gather together, he said he felt "the kind of peace you get watching the still surface of a lake" rather than excitement, he later tells China Daily.


"I feel grateful for literature and the unique power it has to bring about happiness and offer hope to children by developing their imagination and changing their lives for the better," he says.


"I heard only one voice deep down, saying I should live up to my fellow friends' trust, and strive to fulfill my mission and responsibilities," Zhang says.


Zhang says he found encouragement from a rival candidate who finally decided not to run but instead chose to support his bid.


Brazilian illustrator Roger Mello says he is also happy about Zhang's election, who he refers to as "our hero". Australian Trish Amichi says the job has been handed to the best possible candidate, and believes that "the IBBY will do even more amazing things with Zhang at the helm".




The pinnacle of Zhang Mingzhou's career came recently when he was elected president of the International Board on Books for Young People-the first Chinese person to do so in its 65-year history.

[Photo provided to China Daily]


An international nongovernmental and nonprofit organization established in 1953 with headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, the IBBY gathers together editors, writers, illustrators, librarians, professors, publishers and members of the media together to promote the writing and reading of children's books, with an aim to enhance communications and world peace.

The biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award, the world's top honor for children's content creators, was set up by the IBBY in 1956. Cao Wenxuan was the first Chinese writer to win the award in 2016.

Zhang's first contact with the organization began in 2002. Since then, in the big international family as he calls it, he has been serving as one of the ten members of the board's executive committee, before being nominated as its vice-president in 2016.

It was at this time that the international literary community began to become more familiar with the reading habits of Chinese children and recognize how Chinese writers and illustrators liked to mingle tradition with a contemporary outlook in their publications aimed at children.

Before Cao, Chinese writers tended only to make the long list for the Andersen award, and never advanced any further. In 2015, Wu Qing, professor of Beijing Foreign Studies University, was elected as the judge of the award. Subsequently, Xiong Liang made it to the illustrators' short list for the award in 2018.

Veteran publisher Li Xueqian says the presidency is not only a recognition of Zhang's previous efforts, but also a product of China's reform and opening-up process. The country's international standing and publishing industry have grown alongside the country's economic development.

People often cite Zhang as a perfect example of the "Chinese story", as his success has both mirrored and contributed to the progress the country has made.

Every step he has taken and the choices he has made seem to reflect this.




The pinnacle of Zhang Mingzhou's career came recently when he was elected president of the International Board on Books for Young People-the first Chinese person to do so in its 65-year history.

[Photo provided to China Daily]


It all started when Zhang, who was born into a teaching family in 1968, bought a picture book at the age of 9 with the money he earned by collecting and selling recyclable waste.


The book was The Travel of A Tiny Willow Seed, which tells the story of how a seemingly insignificant seed manages to float around the world.


"It opened up the world to me. It made me want to visit every corner of the world," he says. And that's exactly what he did.


Thanks to his hard work, he moved from remote Heilongjiang to study at Shanghai International Studies University, before later enrolling at the Chinese Foreign Ministry after his graduation.


"This experience helped me in my job in an international organization," he says.


He later started up a company organizing international cultural exchanges before he became manager of the international copyright section of the China Children's Press and Publication Group.


"I fell in love immediately with the IBBY when I attended its Basel Congress in 2002, especially after learning that its mission was to promote international understanding through children's books," Zhang says.


"I was really thrilled by the idea that a book can offer a life-changing opportunity to financially restricted children like myself," he adds.


Zhang became an active and creative force on the world stage that the IBBY provided.


In 2006, the organization's congress met in Macao. As one of the organizers, Zhang invited children from different countries to visit and talk at the conferences and forums aimed at adults.


While serving on the IBBY executive committee for four terms from 2008, his foreign colleagues constantly encouraged him to run for president.


The pinnacle of Zhang Mingzhou's career came recently when he was elected president of the International Board on Books for Young People-the first Chinese person to do so in its 65-year history.

[Photo provided to China Daily]


He quit his publishing job earlier this year and decided to give a shot.


"Believing in the same ideals, I wanted to help the IBBY to take it to develop further," he says.


He has already helped forge an agreement between the IBBY and the International Publishers Association and helped set up the national section of Sri Lanka.


"I hope more countries will join the IBBY," he says. "There are so many touching stories from the reading promoters, I want them to be known by more people."


One of the major plans for his term is to raise the organization's public profile around the world.


Zhang says he will encourage more young people to work in the organization and continue to develop projects like Children in Crisis and Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities.


His first job as president was to launch the IBBY-iRead Outstanding Reading Promoter Award.


The China-based iRead Foundation will award two reading promoters from impoverished areas around the world with a prize of 200,000 yuan ($29,000).


Vassiliki Nika, president of IBBY Greece, says: "Today, the IBBY's mission - which is more urgent than ever before - is becoming a vehicle for studying the way stories and fairy tales mix, mingle and interact through different peoples' visions. Understanding and goodwill among people, as well as equal opportunities for every child in the world can only be attained when books offer a bridge between different peoples and civilizations."


Zhang supports this aim and believes that China has never been more close to the center of the global stage in terms of children's publishing thanks to the Reform and Opening-up process that has helped so much to boost its international standing in the publishing sector.


"I hope my presidency will help further enhance China's dialogue and cooperation with its world partners," Zhang says, adding that the organization is not just about China.


"I support the creation and production of high-quality books for children worldwide. I want children everywhere to be given access to books on equal merit. Through our work, I hope to see children grow up with healthy personalities and the ability for independent thought, and a sense of inclusiveness toward other cultures," he says.


"Above all, I hope they will have an awareness of the mission of building the world as community with a shared future," he says.


Copy Editor/ Liang Chenglu

Editor/ Kang Sijun


Author: Mei Jia is a journalist of China Daily

Source: China Daily, 2018-09-22

Original Link: https://africa.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201809/22/WS5ba5bfdca310c4cc775e7a8e.html

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