Prix Ars Electronica 2009

Description of your project

This project is about bringing in inspirational ideas and fostering social change. It is built around the idea of TED, and is created by two young people living in different continents, made possible by online collaboration tools, and driven by an ardent desire to share great ideas and create positive changes. It is an attempt to bring in more educational content to the current Internet community in China.

TED, education, citizenship, social change

Project History

TED to China started in October, 2008. The project started because we love the idea of TED, and there was no TED China or anything like that when we started. So we thought, why not make a TED fansite in Chinese? So we did it.

The Chinese Internet, though rich with all sorts of entertainment news and other industrial gossip, is still in malnutrition, partly because there are few websites that cover cutting edge ideas about the changing world and possible solutions for social problems. At the same time, as we are chewing the mind-blowing ideas from TED – which are all about making the world a better place – we stumbled upon the idea of introducing the TED concept to China.

At first, Tony did some Chinese translations of TEDTalks, and posted them online. People like those talks and the Chinese translations, and we wondered if we can build a site around this idea.

After some discussions over email, we decided to give it a go. We made a prototype with WordPress, and publish TEDtoChina version 0.1 at the end of last October. Since then, we’ve introduced more than sixty TEDTalks in Chinese, and with the help of social media tools like twitter, we make the TED name known around a whole spectrum of people in China. Many volunteers joined in our group, and they helped further spread the TED idea.

We are still in an infant stage, and the TED to China project needs more care and dedication. We are yet to create some offline gatherings among our community, to better foster idea interactions and ignite social change.


The goal of the project is to bring in inspirational ideas from TED and many other groups, and through the process of idea immersion, we hope to foster a citizen spirit that can be a force for good in the community. Be part of the change, that is a resonating idea at TED, and we want to bring people to this idea through our coverage.


The project is initiated by Tony Yet and Oliver Ding. We adopt the opensource model and anyone interested in joining is welcomed. As of March 17th, 2009, we have seven site editors, they come from different backgrounds and disciplines, all sharing the same spirit of open collaboration. We are employing tools like Google Docs and Google Groups as means of communication. It is a young and energetic team, people are very enthusiastic about the project, and we are very happy about this.

Lessons learned:
What has worked / what has not worked in the process of realisation of your project?

During the first few months of running a fan website, we find that online collaboration is possible, and can turn out great stuff. The translation of TEDTalks into Chinese is mainly done by the community, and with some initial iterations, people can find themselves swimming in ease doing it – with fun. That’s the most valuable lesson we’ve learned.

But the collaboration process is far from easy. There are small details to be worked out for each assignment and sometimes there will be fights of ideas. But we consider that to be part of the process of learning and growth. We feel lucky that we are born in this age of online opensource collaborations.

Statement of Reasons:*
Why the submitted project deserves to win a prize in the “Digital Communities” category.

The TED to China project itself is a testimony to the theory of wisdom of crowds. The team behind this project is distributed all over the globe geographically, and we work on the project totally online. And it is also the support and encouragement of the community that adds momentum to our progress. The community of change that we are building is still small, but we believe that this very idea itself is an idea that worth spreading.

Interview with Bill Hsiung, top Traditional Chinese volunteer translator at TED

The following interview is brought to you by Derek Sit, volunteer writer at TEDtoChina. The original Chinese version of the interview can be found here.

Derek Sit

居於香港,是一個幻想著自己在熟悉的城市像過客一樣流浪的傢伙. 正一本正經的學習著成為一個會計師, 但心裡邊總覺得世界如此陌生如此不為人知, 總是搞不清楚是A還是B. 目前正努力嘗試在TED的世界里為自己找到一個答案.


Have you ever thought about how much time our volunteer translators need to put in one 15-minute TED talks? One hour? 2 hours? Or 5 hours? Well, I cannot say it exactly. But I am pretty sure the unit is ‘days’ rather than ‘hours’. You can never imagine how much they have contributed if you have not translated before. Dear readers, when you are enjoying the wonderful ideas the talks bring us, try not to forget the silent translators who bring the talks to you.

It is high time we acknowledged and recognized them by getting to know them more. Therefore I would like to introduce Bill Hsiung, a distinguished traditional Chinese Translator, to all of you. Bill is currently in USA. He has translated 48 talks so far, ranking 1st among all traditional Chinese translators. In the following Bill will share with us his story with TED.

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

Bill: I was born in Pingtung County and grew up in Taichung. In 2006 I went to USA to further my study. Currently I am working in Southern California after graduation

How did you discover, and started translating TED videos?

Bill: Around late 2006 or early 2007, I watched a video about multi-touch panel on Youtube by Jeff Han. About 9 minutes, and very wonderful. I googled some keywords from the video and discovered the official website of TED. From then on, I visited periodically. TED talks are all wonderful, simple and straightforward. Therefore one could always spare a bit of time to watch and appreciate those talks no matter how busy s/he is.

Around March 2009, I found a Facebook group named ‘I translate TEDTalks’. The TED Open translation Project (OTP) caught my sight, and I started following it. Before that, I was a Traditional Chinese volunteer translator for MIT Open Courseware (although I didn’t apply and complete the translation project officially). I also helped translate Facebook into traditional Chinese (Taiwan area) I did not join OTP immediately due to other commitments. Meanwhile, the project was still in the process of testing. In May, I applied officially to be a member of the project as I got through with other projects. Around two weeks after I joined the group, TED publicly launched the translation project, and welcomed interested parties to join.

You have translated 45 talks so far, while most other traditional Chinese translators finish less than 10. What is the driving force?

Bill: My motive has been very simple from the very beginning. There are many TED talks which I like. And I just want to take this opportunity to translate and share the talks with other people, making it easier for Chinese people, especially those using Traditional Chinese, to get access to those wonderful speeches. Timing is another reason. I had more leisure time. Therefore I translated quite a few talks. In August 2009 I moved, changed my job and was occupied by several tedious matters, thus withdrew myself from the project for a while. Luckily I was still invited to TEDActive held in Palm Springs in February this year for free, as I had translated a considerable amount of talks before the temporary stop. I met different volunteer translators from TED OTP around the world as well as the main organizers of TEDx activities. We shared with each other our experiences and enthusiasm. This wonderful TEDActive experience encouraged me to pick up this project again. And I believe that I will keep on until I finish translating all the talks that I am interested in. ( publishes one talk per day from Mondays to Fridays, and publishes selected talks during weekends. The number of TED talks is increasing continuously!!). Translating TED talks would probably become one of my long-term commitments. Other than that I am greatly encouraged by the thank-you letters from the public who acknowledged the time we put into this project and the contributions we make to the Chinese community.

Are there anything interesting or unforgettable during your process of translation? Are there any particular videos that are inspiring to you?

Bill: Unforgettable….probably the moment I just joined the project ~ the platform for translator was still quite simple then. It was quite difficult to get in touch with other translators (Now you could easily search them), not to mention finding a translator working on the same language. It was mission impossible, considering the operating system we had then. However, the translated videos will not appear on until months later if you can’t contact other translators or ask them to review the talks( TED will only publish talks on its official websites after it is reviewed by a different translator). Thus I went for the simplest option. I went over the names of the thousands of registered TED users on the website, and tried to find those names with the tag ‘TED volunteer translator’. Then I looked into spelling of the names, and guessed whether s/he is a Traditional Chinese translator or not. Lastly I would contact him/her. It appeared to be quite cumbersome now, and therefore quite unforgettable.

More than half of TED talks are inspiring to me. I can’t name any particular TED talks. The following links can take you to all the TED talks and speakers that I like:

Any tips on translating that you would like to share with us?

Bill: First of all, for those who are interested in joining OTP, please read carefully the information available on the official website of TED Open Translation Project before you actually get started working on the talks. (This includes: translation guidelines, suggested formats, FAQ and help). The TED has been listening to different translators, and publishes their suggestions on the official website for reference after summary and editing. Reading them help fresh volunteers get on the right track quickly, and answers questions they may have. Hopefully our translators could make good use of them. Generally speaking, the most prevailing guiding principles for translating TED talks are: avoid word-to-word translation; try to express the ideas using Chinese grammar and sentence structure (sometimes it is necessary to use inversion, or substitute Chinese slangs for original phrases). TED aims at ‘idea worth spreading’. Translating the spirits and ideas of speakers is far more important than wordings only.

The performance of Traditional Chinese Translator has always been weaker than that of Simplified Chinese Translators. What is your opinion and can you suggest some solutions for improvements?

Bill: Haha ~ probably I would not agree with you (‘has always been weaker’). I think you are solely looking at the amount of talks completed. Amount is definitely one of the indicators. Not the only one, even not the best one, but the easiest understood one. The number of talks completed by Traditional Chinese translators is indeed far less than that by Simplified Chinese translators. But if we take the number of translators into consideration as well, the performance of the two groups are comparable to each other. The number of simplified Chinese translators is around twice as much as that of traditional Chinese translators, and so is the amount of talks completed. If we further take account of the population size using simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese, I would say the performance of traditional Chinese translators should have been much better than its counterparts. (Currently Traditional Chinese is used daily only in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Simplified is more widely used in Mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia and other Chinese communities). Besides, when the project just got started last year, there were still very few translators. The amounts of talks translated into Traditional Chinese were once more than that in Simplified Chinese. That is why I don’t agree with you. But the hard fact is that we pale in terms of amounts. We should reflect on that and think about solutions.

There are probably two reasons (for fewer amounts)

Firstly, traditional translators are generally very demanding about the quality of their translation products. They may go back and forth during reviews, making corrections unweariedly several times. This slows down the translation process. But it is good. It guarantees the quality of translation. We need not and will not change this.

Secondly, there are fewer Traditional Chinese Translators in OTP. This is something we can work on to improve. We have been in collaboration with TEDxTaipei to increase TED Open Translation Project’s visibility in Taiwan. We will to interact more actively with schools, and introduce the project to students, especially those majoring in foreign languages, through teachers. What is more, traditional Chinese translators have been too independent, and therefore not well-organized among themselves. We don’t have an interactive platform like TEDtoChina or TCTC google group (for better coordination). There are other organizations and websites in Taiwan who are translating TED talks. It is a pity that they remained independent after the launch of TED Open Translation Project. It is a kind of waste and inefficient for different groups to work on the same talks on their own.

TED project is a long-term commitment. I am satisfied with the speed with which our traditional Chinese translators are doing now. That keeps our translators occupied. They will develop a habit of translating TED talks once they are free. Spanish and Bulgarian volunteers translated much faster than the speed with which the Official TED talks increase. Volunteers may direct their attention to other stuff as they have no videos to translate. This is not good for long-term commitment of translator communities. This is something we must not ignore. It might not be that good to translate with too high speed.

Can you talk about your expectation of development of TED among Chinese communities? What impact would you think will TED bring on us?

Bill: haha~ I only hope TED will be recognized by more Chinese. As to the future development and impact it will have, well, I am neither an employee of TED, nor someone influential. Just as what TED curator Chris Anderson said, TED has its own life, no one knows where it would go, we are also curious about its future. I could only guess the impact would be positive.


So what do you think about Bill through this article. To me, rational, passionate and earnest. I believe his sharing of the tips on translating would benefit both current and fresh translators. His opinions on the development of traditional Chinese translators are particularly inspiring to me. I am currently in Hong Kong. I think TED could also spread its ideas more actively in this wonderful island besides Taiwan, and get recognized by more Hongkongers. I have seen volunteers working on this. And from them I see promising futures.

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Interview with Tony Yet [Published on TED’s Official Blog]

In an effort to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary achievements of the thousands of volunteer translators working at TED’s Open Translation Project (OTP), TED has been conducting and publishing interviews with selected translators in the past few months. On 12th May, 2010 – one day before the 1-year anniversary of OTP – TED published an interview with the top Chinese translator Tony Yet, who is also one of the co-founders of TEDtoChina. In this amazing interview, Tony talked about his interest in language, technology and social innovation, his reasons for joining OTP and some of his favorite talks. TEDtoChina also received an honorable mention in this interview:

Later, I thought it would be a good idea to create a website to feature these translated TEDTalks. So with the help of a friend living in the US, we launched The idea is to bridge over the language barrier and bring these innovative talks to more Chinese people. It’s been a great journey for us to witness the birth and growth of the TED Chinese translator community and the much bigger TED fan community in China.

Click here to read the full interview.

Tony is also a TED Fellow and the one of translators (together with Danye West) behind the 2000th translated TED Talk.

Congratulations to Tony and all the wonderful volunteer translators on their amazing work!

You can head to TED’s blog to read about interviews with other translators, or check out this post to have a glimpse of how far and fast OTP has progressed in merely a year. Alternatively, if you read Chinese, you can take a look at the various posts related to OTP published on TEDtoChina’s Chinese site to keep in touch with the progress of Chinese translations. Last but not least, we will be publishing an English version of the interview we conducted with the top Traditional Chinese translator Bill Hsiung a short while ago. So stay tuned! :)

About the Author

赵林(Zachary Lin Zhao)
Senior Coordinator at Translators Service Group

Zachary Zhao was born in China, attended high school in Singapore and is currently studying at Colgate University in the United States. His first encounter with TED was an accident, an accident that he will never regret. Working as a volunteer for TED and TEDtoChina has transformed his life. He hopes to bring the ideas of TED not only to the Chinese people but also to everybody around him.

Email: OTP at TEDtoChina dot com

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Twitter: @TEDtoChina_en

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Alex Counts on Technology, Social Media, and Microfinance in China

Editor’s Notes:

Alex Counts, President and CEO of Grameen Foundation, gave an interview to Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC) at University of Hong Kong during “MaD 2010” conference organized by Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture. He talked about technology, social media, and microfinance in China. TEDtoChina writer Jinxin Ma brings us from Hong Kong her interview with Alex Counts.

Microfinance, a worldwide movement to grant as many as possible poor people access to high quality financial services, has rooted in China since early 1990s. Only in recent years; However, has the general Chinese public been witnessing its growing momentum thanks to the development of technology and emerging social media channels.

As one of the leading NGOs in this sector, Grameen Foundation has inspired globally many seed projects including, a China-based, fast-growing, person-to-person student loan program, showcasing how philanthropy and social enterprise can help the unprivileged weaving their dreams.

Counts believes that technology has a huge positive impact on the development of microfinance. “We have been involved in technology and microfinance in almost ten years, as a major program of Grameen Foundation,” said Counts. Grameen Technology Center started in 2000 has proved how they take it seriously. The Chinese version of MIFOS, an open source system that initiated by Grameen Foundation is expected to function in a year.

Click the below mp3 track to listen to his explanation on how technology shifts microfinance in three different ways: on management, security and individual’s life:

Alex-Counts-Microfinance-1-MaJinxin-Feb-02-10 by tedtochina

Social media is booming this decade, but for its influence on microfinance, Counts considers it only as early stage. Grameen’s Mifos system has already shown how social media can be an efficient and effective way to organize people, since “there is a community of software developers all around the world that help write all parts of the code”, said Counts. From Mifos, as well as Kiva, another online platform for microfinance, he spots huge possibilities. The next mp3 track reflects his elaborations:

Alex-Counts-Microfinance-2-MaJinxin-Feb-02-10 by tedtochina

Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, talked on “China Microfinance Summit” held in Beijing in November 2009, saying that microfinance in China should be in the form of social enterprise, and Counts agrees with Yunus’s “for-profit, but non-distributing” social business model. He also points out the challenges Grameen Foundation faces in China: the first is that they “can provide grants but not loans”, due to Chinese regulations; and the second is that “a lot of people that can be microfinance entrepreneurs in the rural areas are migrating to the cities”. Despite the problems which are “solvable”, as Counts states, he sees mostly big possibilities in China.

About Alex Counts

Counts served as a Fulbright scholar at the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh in 1988, right after he graduated from Cornell University in the United States. The Grameen Bank and its founder, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, later won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Grameen Foundation was founded in 1997 by Mr. Counts with a mere $6,000 in seed capital and a charge from Yunus. It is Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization and has grown to a global network in 22 countries.

Alex Counts (the second to right) on a panel discussion on MaD 2010, photo by Jinxin MA

About “MaD 2010” Conference

MaD 2010 was held at the Kwai Tsing Theatre on 22-24 January, 2010, in Hong Kong. Over 800 participants from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Macau, Thailand, South Korea and the U.S. attended the event, which was composed of 26 talks and 27 workshops, challenges and chatrooms.

Jinxin MA, Yolanda (馬金馨)
Writer at Global@TEDtoChina Group

A Chinese freelancer located in Hong Kong, focusing on new media, digital marketing, social enterprise and civil society development in China. Worked at various industries including media, non-profit, real-estate, etc. with a Master of Journalism and a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Major in Political Science) from the University of Hong Kong. Fond of poetry, photography, architecture and documentaries. Enjoys TED as it is one of the best platforms to meet intelligent, passionate and solid people.

Email: yolandahku AT gmail dot com

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Twitter: @TEDtoChina_en

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[Hong Kong] Karen Jiang on Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues

Playwright and activist Eve Ensler once again spoke for girls and women against violence at the TED 2010 annual conference. Her V-Day initiative has funded more than 11,000 community-based anti-violence programs and launched safe houses in the Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. How did Eve influence audiences especially women in China ? Karen Jiang, our writer at Global TEDtoChina group, reports from Hong Kong with her interesting observations.

Coming from a wealthy family in New York, Eve Ensler, the nowadays world-famous playwright, performer, feminist and activist, did not have a happy childhood as others imagine. As a child, she was abused by her father both physically and sexually. The unfortunate childhood and chaotic youth hood together led Eve Ensler to her later career in stopping violence against women and girls. By writing and playing dramas as well as launching a special movement – V day, Eve Ensler  spares no effort to envision a planet in which females are free to thrive, rather than merely survive.

The Vagina Monologues, Ensler’s first well-known drama, tells hundreds of women’s stories mainly about their sexual experiences. These funny, engaging and scary stories have attracted much attention of the public. In 1996, Eve Ensler was awarded the Obie Award, and till now, The Vagina Monologues has been translated into 45 different languages and played in more than 120 countries. Eve Ensler: happiness in body and soul
We have summarized this talk on our Chinese site on Dec 18th, 2009

In 2001, the English version of The Vagina Monologues was first played in China, and in the following two years, though played for several times, it was mainly knew by some university students. The most influential play during the period was given by students and staffs of Sun Yat-Sen University. Though unprofessional, they have moved the masses deeply by their sincere and powerful performance. The Vagina Monologues’s first commercial show in China, unfortunately, was banned by the government in 2003. Despite of the frustrating experience, various scholars, activists, feminists and university students in China have worked at promoting the public performance of the drama for years. Finally, in 2009, The Vagina Monologues was allowed to play publicly by Xinchuan Experimental Troupe. Based on the original work, the Chinese adaption has added some contents reflecting the present situation in China, such as Dustbin Baby. The show got huge success and was given to full-houses for eight times in Beijing and Shanghai.

To an extent, The Vagina Monologues is challenging to traditional Chinese value system. Some audiences felt uncomfortable during the show, especially when hearing the word “vagina”, but more people give ardent responses to the drama. Moreover, along with the social developments in recent years,  the masses’ notion is experiencing significant changes. Numerous people are participating in disseminating The Vagina Monologues and related thoughts, and some are active in V day movements.

For instance, a group called VA, short for V Action, has been formed on Douban, a popular Chinese online community with specialization in movies, books, and music: members enthusiastically discuss about the book, the drama and shows online. Besides, V day@Wuhan, Vagina Monologues@Fudan and many other groups based on the play are active in different places in China. All these events have undoubtedly aroused social concerns towards issues with respect to sex and females’ rights.

Sixteen years have passed since The Vagina Monologues was first finished; nine years have passed since the first show in China. During the years, the drama has caused lots of arguments all over the world, but meanwhile, it has touched innumerable people, leading them to sob and smile with the females’ fates in the play. The Vagina Monologues is all about self and real stories, making it more vigorous than any study and research. The increasing social concerns towards female rights in China proves it. Therefore, it is safe to say that The Vagina Monologues brings females a process of self-consciousness and self-empowering. Only if women speaks for their individuality, can they avoid the fates of being ignored and obtain freedom to thrive in the world.

Wenyu Jiang, Karen (姜文钰)
Writer at Global@TEDtoChina Group

A student of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, majoring in Integrated Business. Enjoying traveling and reading; fond of Yoga and environmental protection activities. Appreciating humanistic care; concerning with every individual’s stories; respecting all those who are kind , sincere and have full heart toward life. Wish to help others as much as possible. Used to participate in many community services, and glad to know more friends caring for the society and enjoying lives through TED.

Email: karenjiang2 AT gmail dot com

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Twitter: @TEDtoChina_en

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Andrew Yu | Voluntourism and 1KG

Many marvel at China’s bamboo shooting skyscrapers, but they might have overlooked the enchanting beauty in the rural areas of this country. Each year, tens of thousands of people travel to these regions. Andrew Yu is one of such many but the only who came up with “Voluntourism”, an innovative concept behind his social enterprise project “1KG”.

Andrew Yu (余志海), or An Zhu (安猪) by nick name, is a traveler who has been to most of the provinces in western China. In 2004, Andrew got his epiphany from what he saw at rural schools and started the 1KG project. The idea is to encourage people to take some small gifts to country kids on their trips. There are over 800 schools with registered information at the 1KG website, all uploaded and maintained by the community. Travelers can collaborate through the website. Andrew believes in the power that millions of people taking small steps can change the world, or “democratization of participation”. He advocates that every single human being has the capacity for charity, which should not be controlled by a small bunch of experts and big philanthropies.

1KG Website:
Andrew Yu’s blog:

TEDx1KG: Lijiang, Yunan, China  April 18th, 2010

Philanthropy in China’s Social and Historical Context

Thirty years of economic development in China made possible the emergence of a newly rich middle class in the city. Many rural residents, however, are still living on the edge or under the poverty line. From government to each unprivileged family, hope is put on education to pave way out of poverty. In 1989, Project Hope was initiated to help children whose families are too poor to afford a complete elementary school education. Being the largest and most influential non-governmental welfare project in China, it had financed education of more than 2.6 million poor rural students by the end of 2004. Despite its phenomenal success, financial and information resource constraints still widely existed as there are currently about 60 million children living in the vast rural areas. Among them, one third (20 million) are poverty-stricken. It is obvious that top down approach in public service plays an essential role, but it’s far less than enough.

Historically, China has been family-oriented rather than community-driven. Thus, relatively few philanthropic were giving outside of the family. In addition, Confucianism and Chinese Marxism promoted a culture in which social and political issues are viewed as being primarily the domain of the elite. A 2009 survey[1] by the China Social Entrepreneur Foundation and Horizon Research Consultancy Group even revealed that 63.3% of survey participants rarely talk to others about public welfare issues even though they are actively involved, and over 20% of respondents never discuss such issues. In such a reality, can the general public be mobilized?

Voluntourism Speaks to Genetic Human Needs and an Inspiring Younger Generation

Voluntourism refers to the idea that every traveler may help their destinations’ local rural communities. Contrary to traditional thinking, it advocates “casual philanthropy” that should be happy and fun without much commitment on time, money, and effort. Although as mentioned earlier, philanthropic activities are often carried out by conscientious individuals and have not become a collective action in China. It is, to a large extent, the narrow definition on philanthropy that restricted mass participation. Traditional Chinese philanthropy is often altruistic and one-way, carrying the lofty mission to return to the society and contribute to the homeland. Voluntourism with its key focus on “happy”, “casual”, and “fun”, instead, puts away intimidating burden and brings in add-on, interactive experience for each participant.

American psychiatrist William Glasser once said, “We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.” Recent years’ economic growth transformed the consumption pattern of urban Chinese residents from subsistence to a comfortable life. Thus, the shifting of people’s focus on survival to needs such as love, power, freedom, and fun. Voluntourism, therefore, speaks from its core to the application of this theory. Statistics shows that over 500 million Chinese travel domestically each year to rural areas where natural and humanistic landscapes are well preserved. Among them many are young professionals and college students–an inspiring younger generation who are at large much more socially conscious, open-minded, and well-educated than their father’s and grandfather’s. What if they can carry 1KG more books, stationery and other education related material to donate to schools and children along their journey? This primitive idea gave living water to Andrew’s good will to help on rural education.

The Secret behind 1KG: Open Sourcing Charity

1KG initiated with this simple and approachable idea–passing on 1kg of books or stationery to unprivileged kids that volunteers may meet while traveling. As it evolves, the key element of Communication was also added in. In addition to material help, volunteers also bring to the needy information of the outside world and help to build up kids’ self-confidence by talking to, playing with, and getting to know them. The interactive communication approach, in return, exposes volunteers on a deeper level to the local culture, education, economy and development demands. Most importantly, the experience helps to create a very special bond between the volunteers and the kids and their families, which may lead to continued relationship in the long run.

In less than 6 years after 1Kg’s official kick-off in 2004, “over 250 trips were planned by volunteers every year; more than 10,000 people have participated in 1KG’s trips; more than 600 rural schools covering most of the sightseeing spots in the rural area of China have been recorded in details and publicized on its website; At least 1 million people have felt the knock-on effect; Volunteer groups have been organized in almost all the major cities of China.” These are achievements that even amazes Andrew himself. As one of the fastest growing NGOs in China, what factors are contributing to 1KG’s significant growing momentum?

The borrowed phrase “Open source” can’t be more appropriate to reveal the secret. In the IT field, it basically means to open the source code for the aim of enabling “a self-enhancing diversity of production models, communication paths, and interactive communities”. The open source model includes “the concept of concurrent yet different agendas and differing approaches in production, in contrast with more centralized models of development”.

1KG organizers have a practical idea to offer interested public and believe in the power of collaboration and collective wisdom as what Wikipedia had demonstrated to us. Having recognized its effective role as a designer, 1KG decided to focus on building and optimizing its interactive online community, providing user friendly platform so that scattered volunteers can search and implement essential data about rural schools, communicate with peers in interest groups and 1KG forum, share information on activities such as trips, teaching opportunities, fund-raising, and meet-ups. Instead of constraining the creativity of participants as most traditional NGOs do, 1KG opens it up. This is as if opening the source code to developers, enabling the maximum utilization of resources and expertise. Touched by 1KG volunteer Sicilia’s charity book sale, two volunteers named Bai Wei and David launched a mini-campaign in March 2009. The campaign calls for people who can’t participate in 1KG trips to pick ten kids out of a pre-defined list, sell ten children’s books to their family members and friends, have book buyers designate a book receiver out of the ten and write down wishful messages on the book, and then mail books to the kids. Successful examples such as this are constantly shared on 1KG’s website and many other online channels, inspiring more people to join the cause.

Design: Looking into a Sustainable Future

Andrew Yu has a dream. A dream that instead of being purely a charity project, 1KG will one day transform into a type of culture or lifestyle through which the brand can have a sustainable future. With much work ahead, his center of focus is set on “design”.

In the traditional sense, design is about “developing concept and making models for something new that will be made by someone else.” However, modern design goes far beyond that with a craving for experience. When applying the idea of “design” to 1KG, it helps tremendously to re-visit and re-define the role of charity organizers in a collaborative world. Having exhibited an open-source characteristic, 1KG poses even more challenging tasks than common causes for Andrew and his co-workers. How can the team help to deliver volunteers joyful and refreshing experiences time and time again? It is essential that adequate support on information, tools, and methodologies can be provided. Even more importantly, how can the team create an effective and efficient platform where volunteers may share meaningful experiences and get inspired? How can the team identify best practices from the community that will serve well for other volunteers? How can the team design mature processes for such best practices that will eventually enrich the 1KG brand?

“Sometimes knowing nothing is lucky”, Andrew once said. When he get started, he hadn’t even heard of NGOs; However, with a good eye and an open mind, Andrew was led accidentally onto the volunteer-driven approach, which later turned out to be quite a success. He possesses the right type of self-confidence and humility attributes which are deemed important from design and branding point of view. Going forward with a staying hunger and staying fool attitude, 1KG would most likely jump onto the right wagon and go on a sustainable track.

As a 1KG team member once said: “When every individual is involved, the world can be changed.” Let’s all wish Andrew and his team the best of good luck!



About the Author

Jia Liu (刘佳), Senior Coordinator at Global@TEDtoChina Group

Born in Hunan, China, Jia Liu is obsessed with food, culture, and languages. With an M.A. degree in Integrated Marketing Communication, she has marketing agency experiences in new media strategic planning and research for the B2B industry. Her ultimate passion lies in brand consulting with regards to health and sustainability. Currently she resides in Boston, selling localization services for a China-based outsourcing vendor.

Email: Global at TEDtoChina dot com

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Twitter: @TEDtoChina_en

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TEDxGuangzhou Videos Available Now

Videos from TEDxGuangzhou have been made available on Tudou. You can now watch all these amazing talks on the Tudou TEDx channel.

Here are some of our favourites:

Xiao Qing Yang on the birth of a CD cover:

Ping Chu says, “If you built it, they will come.”

Jon Phillips: Shanzhai is the authentic innovation from China.

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Rebuilding Haiti with Ideas

To many of us, it was just an ordinary day. But to the 10 million Haitians basking in the warm afternoon sun, what happened on that eventful day was a nightmare that they could never wake up from.

January 12th, 2010.
16:53:10 local time.
Magnitude-7.0 earthquake.
Epicenter 25 kilometers west of Port-au-Prince.
Focus 10 kilometers underground.
33 aftershocks recorded.
200,000 estimated dead.

But numbers can’t measure the sorrow of this poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. Words can’t describe the pain of those buried in the rubble, waiting to be rescued. Relatives dialed frantically at a number that could no longer be reached. Children stared hopelessly into a future that is gloomy and bleak. It’s a story about the vulnerability and fragility of human beings as a race when facing the wrath of Mother Nature. It’s a story about the suffering and death of our fellow brothers and sisters.

But more than that, it is also a story about love. News coverage of the earthquake and the rescue efforts continues 24/7. #Haiti and various charity organizations remain as the trending topics on Twitter throughout the week. In less than a week’s time, text message donations have already surpassed 10 million dollars in the United States. What happened in Haiti was a natural catastrophe, but we didn’t allow it to turn into a human tragedy. In the midst of collapsed buildings and floating dust, we see the goodness of human heart, the collective strength of human community and our persistent hope for a better tomorrow.

TEDtoChina has also been trying to do our part by providing our readers with the latest updates regarding the earthquake, relevant information from as well as various ways to help the victims. During the first week since the earthquake, we have already published three articles related to the earthquake. They are (following articles are in simplified Chinese):

[粉丝行动] 海地大地震,参与援助的45种方式!
([Fans in Action] Haiti Mega-quake: 45 ways to offer your help.)

On January 14th (China local time), one day after the earthquake, TEDtoChina co-founder Oliver Ding published an article informing our TEDtoChina readers of the dire conditions in Haiti and the various ways that we can lend an helping hand. Haiti earthquake touched the heart of many Chinese people, because it was less than two years ago when millions of Chinese people had to grapple with the same kind of grievous situation when a magnitude-7.9 earthquake struck Sichuan, China.

In the article, Oliver recommends our readers pay a visit to the “Medicine without Borders” theme page at, an issue that is especially pertinent to the disaster relief effort at Haiti. At the same time, Oliver gives an update on the current situation in Haiti by republishing a CC licensed post from Global Voices Online (Original by Georgia Popplewell, translated into Chinese by Leonard). Most importantly, Oliver offers our readers a list of 45 charity organizations that are involved in the relief and rebuilding process, allowing our readers to extend their help even when they are thousands of miles away.

(Lalitesh Katragadda: Making maps to fight disaster, build economies)

On January 15th (China local time), we introduced our readers to a talk given by Googler Lalitesh Katragadda during last year’s TEDIndia conference. In this short talk, Katragadda gave an overview on the power of using Internet maps to fight disasters and build economies. Shortly after the earthquake, Google Maps started to provide its users with post-earthquake satellite images of Haiti ( – a true testament to the relevance of Katragadda’s talk and the potential of using new technologies in humanitarian efforts. A Chinese translation of the talk is kindly provided by our team member Yu Kai (余恺).

[TED大奖] 以人为本,用建筑抚平伤痛
([TED Prize] A people-oriented approach: Build to heal.)

One of the most important questions to ask about the relief effort in Haiti is what will happen when the cameras go away, when Haiti is no longer in the news 24/7, when this disaster merely becomes part of our collective memory. Who will help Haitians rebuild their own country and more importantly, how should Haitians do it? To address at least part of the problem, on January 17th our team member Yvette Wang (王烨) wrote a wonderful article on the use of open-source architecture to provide long-term sustainable help to disaster-stricken regions and to heal the emotional and psychological wounds of disaster victims.

Open-source Architecture Network (OAN) is a concept introduced by 2006 TED Prize winner Cameron Sinclair. According to Sinclair, the objective of OAN is “to develop a community that actively embraces innovative and sustainable design to improve the living conditions for everyone”. In fact, as Yvette pointed out in the article, the concept of OAN has been successfully adopted in the post-disaster construction effort across different regions such as China, Nepal, India and Pakistan. We definitely hope to see the blossoming of OAN in the Haiti reconstruction process as well.

These are just three Haiti-related articles published on TEDtoChina over the past couple of days. It is, however, not the end, but merely an beginning. Every member at TEDtoChina will stay committed to the relief effort at Haiti by continuing to spread ideas that are instrumental in helping Haitians rebuild their country. The power of individuals may be limited, but the power of ideas is not.

About the Author

赵林(Zachary Lin Zhao)
Senior Coordinator at Translators Service Group

Zachary Zhao was born in China, attended high school in Singapore and is currently studying at Colgate University in the United States. His first encounter with TED was an accident, an accident that he will never regret. Working as a volunteer for TED and TEDtoChina has transformed his life. He hopes to bring the ideas of TED not only to the Chinese people but also to everybody around him.

Email: OTP at TEDtoChina dot com

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Twitter: @TEDtoChina_en

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TEDxBeijing: Ben Tsiang

Ben Tsiang
CEO and Co-Founder, CNEX
Former Co-Founder, SINA

Ben Tsiang is the co-founder and CEO of CNEX, a 3-year-old social enterprise with the mission of making 100 documentary films in 10 years about contemporary Chinese society. The films he produced in the past 2 years have been widely nominated in 35 international film festivals, and the current work 1428, a documentary film about the Sichuan Earthquake in China, just won the Venice Film Festival’s Orizzonti, The Best Documentary Film Prize, this year.

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Previously, he was one of the co-founders of

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