Extraordinary senior citizens who defy societal norms and expectations

Yang Meiping zhuyuting Chen Nuo
To celebrate the Double Ninth Festival, we are profiling some remarkable senior citizens who continue to defy age-related stereotypes and conventions.
Yang Meiping zhuyuting Chen Nuo
Extraordinary senior citizens who defy societal norms and expectations

Meet four grannies in this "Ageless Wonder" series and check out the colorful lives of seniors in Shanghai.

Today is the Double Ninth Festival, also known as the Senior Citizens' Festival. The festival, which falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month in China, includes activities that show filial regard to the elderly.

How do you define aging? Slow and old-fashioned, with housework and neighborhood gossip? Do they play mahjong or dance every day? Over 36 percent of the population in Shanghai is 60 or older, but many of them defy such conventional notions since they are eager to try new things in fashion, art, sports, and business.

Meet four grannies in this "Ageless Wonder" series and check out the colorful lives of seniors in Shanghai, as well as their inclusive and imaginative spirit.

Qi Shanyun, 71, conductor

The music teacher has influenced generations of students to study music, appreciate it, or simply sing along in the chorus.

"I saw so many of my students become more upbeat and self-assured because of their involvement with the chorus," she said.

After retiring, she coaxed more elderly people to try singing, sparing more time for social choirs.

"On my team, everyone forgets about their social status, age, and job and just tries their hardest to sing every song well. I welcome anyone who enjoys music and singing."

In July, she led her Dream Voice team to this year's World Chorus Competition in South Korea and returned with a silver medal.

Follow the story at: https://www.shine.cn/news/in-focus/2307099369/

My mentor, Ma Geshun, one of the founders of China's chorus art, passed away when he was 102 years old. When we went to see him on his 100th birthday, he still conducted a choir. He is my inspiration. Following in his footsteps, I will never leave my 'chair' until the end of my life.

Qi Shanyun

Lu Xiaojie, 62, fashion idol

Lu has always pushed herself.

She left her secure job at a state-owned enterprise at the age of 30 to study in Japan. On her return to Shanghai, she launched her own business.

Now in her sixties, Lu refuses to retire. She continues to manage her business while experimenting with new lifestyles.

Fashion shows, livestreaming, and short films are all popular among Lu's generation, and she has attempted them all.

Her upbeat and cheery personality has gained her a devoted following, many of whom have joined her on her journey to discover "new life."

The trendy pieces are just the beginning, and Lu says she has more plans for the future.

Check out Lu Xiaojie at: https://www.shine.cn/news/in-focus/2307238239/

I believe if my heart is young, time will not fly; if I always feel happy, time will still be there for me.

Lu Xiaojie

Zheng Huanan, 81, jogger

Wearing sandals instead of athletic shoes, the silver-haired Zheng is a familiar sight on the jogging track close to the Huangpu River in Huangpu District.

Her day begins at 4:30am, and after some stretching exercises at home, she begins her running regimen at 6am. Typically, she begins at Lupu Bridge and runs to Nanpu Bridge before returning to Lupu. That is a distance of about 7 kilometers, which she covers in two hours.

She is constantly cheered on by passersby during her run, and young joggers are inspired by her endurance and optimistic approach toward life.

She enjoys wearing qipao and high heels even during walks in the mountains.

Take a look at the ageless wonder: https://www.shine.cn/news/in-focus/2308133444/

I can still run every day and walk in high heels at my age. So what's the harm? And I'm not alone. I've seen many elderly people exercising and enjoying the world outside their homes. That is all we need to do.

Zheng Huanan

Chen Xingzhi, 74, cultural heritage inheritor

The 74-year-old Shanghai resident has turned her childhood pastime of making scented sachets into a profitable business.

Her grandmother taught her to sew various styles of sachets and the technique for herb powder fillings.

Though there were challenges early on, including finding appropriate materials for the sachets, she pursued her dream after retirement. It was worth it as her creations proved popular and orders poured in from traditional Chinese medicine pharmacies, companies, and even individuals.

Over the course of nearly two decades, Chen has stitched up nearly 180 distinct types of sachets. Her products were on display at the 2010 World Expo and the China International Import Expo from 2019 to 2022. It is a popular item as a Shanghai souvenir and is often presented to visiting important dignitaries.

Chen has passed on the scented sachet culture to her son, who left his well-paying work at an IT firm to join his mother in preserving the culture.

Even her 15-year-old granddaughter has picked up skills and offered ideas for the design of products aimed at attracting trend-conscious young consumers.

Chen Xingzhi is featured in: https://www.shine.cn/news/in-focus/2310156481/

I feel satisfied. My hobby has helped to spread the culture and entice others to learn it. I think it's fantastic.

Chen Xingzhi

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