Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Saga of the Olympic Torch-Should Jenny withdraw?

Yesterday, I voted for Jenny Bowen, the founder of Half the Sky-an organization dedicated to making the lives of children living in orphanages better-to carry the Olympic Torch.

Jenny, an American, lives and works in Beijing. She said she will run with eight Chinese children who are orphans.

On many levels this is a wonderful thing-it raises awareness for the kids who are left behind in China's orphanages, the publicity could help Half the Sky raise money which could help more children, its a great image of international co-operation and it is great showcase for adoption.

Today, I read some of the comments on the site. There are some people that think Jenny is 'cheating'. They question how she could have gotten so many votes in a short period of time. Indeed, her votes nearly doubled in less than 24 hours and it appears she is closing in on the leader.

This is a perfect example of the power of the internet-adoption groups-representing thousands of families formed via adoption-all over the world are being rallied to Jenny's side.

Of course, in many cases the rank and file Chinese citizen is not privvy to groups, blogs and other lightning fast communciation tools. It is easy to see where the idea that Jenny was cheating could come from.

So, is Jenny's selection really a good thing? I am certainly not as sure as I was yestday. I wonder how we would react if a Chinese citizen had carried the torch in Atlanta or Salt Lake City? I suspect there would be outrage that one of 'our own' got supplanted by someone who was not a citizen. Should Jenny win, what impact will it really have on international relations? on adoption?

The Chinese have a long tradition of saving face. How will they handle the international public scrutiny on their adoption policies. Not only will the world comment on what happens to China's children, but the Chinese themselves will be made aware of just how many kids are leaving the country or languishing in orphanages. Much of this information has been kept from rank and file Chinese citizens.

So, like most complex questions there are positives and negatives. I know which way I am leaning. Maybe the eight kids representing all the children in the orphanages should carry the torch...

What do you think?

With Respect,

1 comment:

Karin said...

She isn't entering in competition with a Chinese citizen. She is entering under a section of voting that is specifically for expats--so she is 'competing' against other expats only.