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Anton Lustig: A “Jingpo man” born in the Netherlands

Updated:2018-09-05 12:00:54   Yunnan Gateway

Dr Anton Lustig is from the Netherlands. Since 1991, he has been visiting, working and living with the Jingpo people in southwest China’s Yunnan province for more than 20 years. He even calls himself “a Jingpo man born in the Netherlands”.

Anton first visited a Jingpo village in west Yunnan’s Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in 1991 when was 27 year old. At that time, he was a doctoral student at Leiden University and he chose Jingpo’s Zaiwa language as his research interest.

Before Anton’s visit, the Zaiwa language was little known to the world academic circle. Hoping to fill the research gap, Anton travelled tens of thousands of miles to Dehong, lived with the Jingpo villagers and learned their language and culture. More than a decade later, on the basis of his PhD thesis, he finished “A Grammar and Dictionary of Zaiwa” which contains 1,700 pages.

Anton became a teacher in the Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2005, and two years later, he fell in love with a Beijing girl. The two got married soon after. Anton always told his stories in Yunnan to Li Yang. And during their visit to Dehong in 2009, Li Yang was deeply impressed by the local people. At the end of 2011, the two decided to quit their jobs and moved to Dehong where they built a house of their own in the Jingpo village and devoted themselves to the education of local children.

Anton and Li aim to empower the local children, helping them to build confidence and develop creativity while inheriting their own culture. With the help of volunteers, the couple designed a series of art courses and activities such as puppet shows and street dance groups.

The most popular course is the English class. To cultivate the children’s interest, they label every item in English, or play treasure hunt in English with the children. Anton says that after more than 20 years, he feels that he is a Jingpo now, so he is willing to do something for the place. (Source: Wechat Account “YeeMedia”)

Editor: John Li

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