The annual expatriate event "Changning, Our Home" will be held in Shanghai today, reflecting the district government's increased focus on foreign residents and their community needs.
This year an updated version of the publication "Changning Tells You" will be given to every attendee.
"The event is a platform for local expats to get together, communicate and share experiences," said a district government official, surnamed Zhou.
"We want them to become involved in life here, not only hang out with other expats."
A growing number of foreigners are adopting Changning as their "home away from home."
The top two expat nationalities in the district are Japanese (21.7 percent) and American (15.9 percent).
Countries with residents accounting for more than five percent of the expat total include France, Germany and South Korea.
Many foreigners are active in cultural events in the various Changning District neighborhoods, from cooking contests to photography, singing and etiquette competitions.
The activities have brought overseas residents together to share knowledge of the district and get to know it better.
Local communities organize regular social balls, photo exhibitions, classical and folk music appreciation classes, tea ceremonies, traditional handicraft lessons and healthcare consultations.
Ronghua Neighborhood Committee welcomes new foreign residents with greeting cards, birthday wishes, flowers and regular visits.
Residents who decide to return to their home country are also acknowledged.
The Gubei International Community this year launched a "Foreigners' Chinese Knowledge Competition" and a "Chinese and Overseas Women's Show."
Xinjing Town Cultural Exchange Organization hosted Dragon Boat Festival activities, explaining the origins of the festival, ethnic costumes and manners.
This triggered expat interest in learning how to make zongzi, a pyramid-shaped mass of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.
Liuhaisu Art Museum launched a Chinese painting class for foreign experts' wives in 2005, which became so popular it expanded into three classes.
The teachers also took painting classes in Suzhou where they experienced Chinese culture amid beautiful natural scenery.
Chengjiaqiao neighborhood also started its monthly afternoon tea for ladies to introduce Chinese culture and bring resident families together.
The theme of the annual event changes from time to time. In 2005, the theme was "Changning, home to us all" and placed emphasis on the involvement of local overseas residents in city life.
Photographs taken by more than 100 overseas district residents were published, some as postcards.
Each expat got a "Living in Changning" guide book, a district map and a bilingual magazine.
(Shanghai Daily December 29, 2007)