Putting pen to paper to chronicle Shanghai's many changes

Shen Junhua discovered a love for literature, and finally put pen to paper to express her love for this ever-changing city.
Ti Gong

Shen Junhua points to one of her awarded photos at a low-carbon cycling photography contest.

Personal profile

Shen Junhua is the librarian of the reading rooms for employees at the Zhabei District Water Plant. Over the past decade, she has been honored more than 20 awards for her devotion to cultural activities. In recent years Shen has been committed to promoting audiobooks.

Ti Gong

Some of the books Shen Junhua read when she was a middle school student.

My story

My name is Shen Junhua, and I have had a long and stable connection with Shanghai starting in 1977, the year I was born.

I grew up in Yangpu District. I remember that when I was in primary school, people bought everything with coupons. For example, if you wanted some coal for your furnace, a tool people used for cooking or getting warm, you needed to have some coal coupons.

With the advance of reform and opening up, some new things entered our lives, bringing amazing changes. For me, that was literature.

In middle school, I saved some pocket money for books. My favorites were Oliver Twist, Notre-Dame de Paris, Pride and Prejudice and A Dream of Red Mansions. They gave me a great deal of insight into the literature world.

One thing that touched me was what my class monitor told us when we were third graders: “You are really lucky — see, construction projects are going on at the gate of our school and the whole city is undergoing construction. If you can command the knowledge, you will have many opportunities in the future and a stage to play on.”

Later, I applied to be a student of the industrial automation major, one of the most popular majors at the time, after college entrance examinations. After graduation, I used to believe that I could have a magnificent career and was sent to the Zhabei District Water Plant for computing works. 

However, later I found the work I was doing was not to my liking and I wasn't good at it, which depressed me.

The labor union leaders noticed that and asked me to be the librarian of the plant's reading rooms for employees. Over the past 16 years, I decorated the two empty rooms and made them look warm and sweet. Once new books arrived, I informed my colleagues in the WeChat groups and recommended some interesting book reviews to them.

Now every day there are people borrowing or returning books and discussing with me what they have read. This place has become a little world for me, where I can be accompanied by books and surrounded by my paintings which serve as decorations. Here I tried my best to meet the literary and art demands of my co-workers.

Ti Gong

One of Shen Junhua's articles, Impression on the Red Cliff, was published in Xinmin Evening News, a local Shanghai newspaper.

In 2008, coincidentally, I submitted a film review to Xinmin Evening News and it was published in a popular section of the newspaper. It not only bought me the sense that my hard work paid off, but also let me experience the joy of writing.

Then I put my eyes to more areas of society and recorded things happening around us with my pen and my love of the city. I can still recall that in 2010, the year of the Shanghai World Expo, there was an event asking the public to co-work on a round-robin story called "Adventures of Haibao" (the mascot of the expo).

I visited the Expo Park four times and found many aspects of the city, ranging from facilities to the level of urban services, had been greatly improved. These feelings were later all written into my stories.

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A poster featuring Shen Junhua during the Shanghai Radio Festival.

In 2012, in an activity called "Micro Tour in Xuhui" that I participated in, I saw some models of what the riverside areas in Xuhui District, which was under construction at the time, would look like. When I went to the riverside in March this year, the models had all became reality. 

The Long Museum there created an artistic atmosphere. Chinese residents and foreigners gathered together, some were walking alone or walking their dogs, some were jogging, and some were simply enjoying the beautiful views. That's just the tip of the iceberg of the city's rapid development after reform and opening up.

I wrote of tours in Shanghai for a collection named "Wandering in Shanghai." One piece was about the Wujiaochang area, a countryside-like place when I was young which has now become a "sub-center" of the city surrounded by high-rise buildings. I also wrote a long story about things happening throughout the four seasons in New Jiangwan Town to express my love of the city.

With the popularization of the Internet, we can now access more information about local cultural events online and share it with people we know who have the same interests. I opened a private audio station at Ximalaya FM, an audio sharing site, and shared with other users more than 60 audio books I recorded.

I'm just one of many residents who love this city and want to witness and help its growth. I think the best is yet to come.

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