The Hejiata project is one of the XJTLU community engagement spring project which has the purpose to help the migrant seniors to integrate into the community quickly. The Hejiata community is located in the downtown of Suzhou. With the development of Suzhou in the aspect of economic and environment, more and more young people would like to find jobs and develop themselves in Suzhou. Their parents have no choice to move to Suzhou because they want to live close to their children.

This project can be deemed as a way to analysis the current situation of the senior migrants in China content and the major issues in relation to those senior migrants. Additionally, this project is not only about the research but also committee to the social promotion in this neighborhood. Thus, the second main purpose of this project is to help the new coming senior migrants in this neighborhood to adapt this new environment, new city, changed climate condition, distinctive culture background that is far away from their hometown, and even the new dialect (Suzhou dialect) that they are not used to it. In term of the Chinese content, senior migrants is a prominent issues. Since the Hukou policy, one child policy, rapid urbanization and aging problem, increasing number of senior had to leave their home along with their child coming to the mega city and living in this unknown and unfamiliar places. However, this kind of trend has resulted in multiple negative impact for example the augment feeling of anonymity between the local residents and migrants, reducing the sense of community and increasing the anxiety. As we can see, this minority group has the need to be highly concern in the long term. Therefore, the main domain that the students has worked in based on those main purpose and current issues of the senior migrants is essentially focus on the research and social practice.

This project combines the workers in the community center and students in the XJTLU to hold some activities to help the migrant senior to communicate more with neighbors. Some interesting games are used as ice breaking activities such as clipping the table tennis and doing aerobics (figure 1 and 2). Some meaningful activities are also hold, for example, listening the tea ceremony class and learning using the mobile phone (figure 3 and 4).夹乒乓球.jpg

(figure 1)


(figure 2)


(figure 3)


(figure 4)


The major task for the students: first of all the recruitment work. Volunteers are be assigned to convince local senior migrants to involve in this project. After the recruitment part, the main responsibilities are making the plan for the following activities, coming up some ideas about the main topic for each discussion, assisting each activities and documenting the main information.


  • The first stage of the project ----- recruitment:




Volunteers invite residents to attend the community activities.


  • The second stage ------- get acquaintance




Volunteers helps the residents to learn dancing for the first time and enhance their relationship

  • The third stage ----- doing variety activities
  1. Volunteers teach residents to use popular mobile phone app




     2. Hold a tea culture lecture
     3. Volunteers prepare a wrapping rice dumpling activity for the Dragon Boat Festival


After several times implements, we found that lots of those senior migrants are more and more willing to join in this kind of activity, willing to sharing their life experiences. There is a reflection of accumulating time on them and they all have their own unique story to tell. Although we only have held 4 times activities but, the number of participants are increasing, which is a good sign to show that those migrants are happy about these kind of project and they seems very enjoy it. Initially we only recruit around 15 people but in the 4th Dragon Boat Festival preparation there are around 40 participants. Those senior migrants bring their friends to come here.

Also, during the each activities, we give those senior migrants the opportunities to share their own story, childhood memory or their family story. They are not only share those experience but also chat with their new friends and form the new social network meanwhile.

The main achievements that we think is that we give them a platform for the senior migrants to enlarge their social network and add some interesting and different memory in their routine daily life. The outcome is seems to be invisible in short term but we believe it does improve their inner world in the long run.


From each of the individual seniors, we have learn a lot and understand more about the groupd of the migrant through this project. We learn a lot and understand more about the group of the migrant senior through the Hejiata project. We understand the real idea of the migrant seniors. They don’t want to leave the hometown. However, they still choose to live together with their children. This decision gives them a large number of pressure in the aspect of economy and emotion. Migrant seniors have their own house in the hometown. However, when they follow their children move to another city, buying a house become a heavy burden to them again. What noteworthy is that the price of the house is notably higher. They need a place to support their late life, also wish to buy a new house for their children's weddings. A male migrant senior mentioned that he bought his house in Suzhou use loan from bank during our communication. Cannot blend right into the local life could be another problem that migrant seniors faces. They do not understand the local dialect, which leads to the language barrier between them and the local elders. Migrant with their children to them means the new city, new challenge. Their social relationships accumulated in their first half of life are broken. Most of them need to restart their life in a strange city with acquaintance-lack condition. To all the migrant seniors, children are the best spiritual comfort. However, their children do not have enough time to company them due to career stress of the young people.


In this Hejiata neighborhood project, it was witness the trend that from the beginning only around 10 participants to eventually around 40 residents involve. This trend demonstrate the significance and influence of this project. Those volunteering works are not as challenging as the technical research but the inner spirit is so valuable. It focus on the each individual’s inherence ranging from minority to the workers. Everyone, every neighborhood need to be concerned and understood. We hope that this project will keep moving on, extending to more neighborhoods and demographic groups.

Moreover, for the students majoring urban planning like me, it is also significant to have those close relationship chatting face to face with local residents to know their daily life and their real needs. Based on what we learned in the class, it is essentially to use our knowledge to compare and offer more professional perspectives on those kind of project to improve the quality of this project.



We recommend that this community project can adopt more professional knowledge to have a better quality and qualified activities. Also there are many similar cases  and concept throughout the world that can be learned in the future

Some relevant knowledge that can bring into the Community project


Some relevant knowledge that can bring into the Community project