Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

200 Years of Quakers in China

Quakers doing aid work in western China during WWII
Workshop Number: 
Eli Blood-Patterson, Patrick Lozada
Who may register?: 
Open to all adults and high school
Experiential Activities: 
half gathering attenders welcome
First half (Monday-Wednesday)
Second half (Wednesday/Thursday-Friday)

A rising China will help define the 21st century. Yet despite Quaker commitments to peace, there are linguistic, cultural, and political barriers that prevent Friends from engaging with China. This workshop seeks to overcome these barriers using Quakers' long history in the country as a roadmap for future engagement.

Workshop Description

[Headnote: We had great success with this format after leading this workshop at this past FGC conference. Based on feedback from the week, which has only just reached us in late September, we are considering a few minor changes to the topical focus on different days. If approved, we will continue to make a few small "tweaks" of this kind, but intend to keep the basic structure of the workshop the same. Changes will shift the focus slightly more to 20th century Quaker engagement with China (namely the "Friends Ambulance Unit" in WWII), and to topics that produced especially meaningful discussions in the first workshop (namely early 20th-century Quaker missionary work, Quaker skepticism of the violence of the Communist regime, and modern issues of trade and labor issues with the United States). This noted, the basic structure was extremely successful, and we hope to build on that success, rather than reinventing the wheel.]

In this workshop, we will learn about the history of China through the lives of individual Friends. Over the past 200 years, Friends have played unique and sometimes extraordinary roles in the course of Chinese history.

For each of the first three days of the workshop, we will focus on a key turning point in Chinese history, including the Opium Wars (1839-1860), the Republican Period (1912-1949), and the period of Reform and Opening Up (1978-present). In these sessions, we will first overview the forces shaping China at that time before zooming in to examine the lives of Friends. To this end we will use video clips, audio clips, images, quotations, and primary documents to try to convey the lived experiences of these individuals. A key theme of the workshop will be to consider how Friends today might approach the moral struggles identified by Friends in each period.

In the second half of the workshop, we will move into a format of more open discussion, with an eye to current events and Friends’ engagement with China right now. On the last two days, we will turn our attention to major issues involving China, including the “great power” relationship between the United States and China, economic development, environmental protection, and human rights. As these are vast topics in and of themselves, we will leave room for participants to direct the conversation toward areas of particular interest for the group.

Workshop Format

A little less than half of the workshop will be given to lecture, a small portion to worshipful reflection, and the remaining time will be devoted to more participatory activities.

Non-lecture activities will include:

  • Group exercises: “What do you know?” and “What are your assumptions?”

  • Breakout discussions

  • Group brainstorming

Workshop Topics

Over the workshop, there will be three sessions on history, with the two final sessions reserved for discussion of China today. The workshop will cover:

  1. Qing Dynasty and the Opium Wars (1839-1860)

  2. Republican Period and World War II (1912-1949)

  3. Reform and Opening Up (1978-present)

  4. China Today (current events)

  5. China Today (what can Quakers do?)

Leader Experience

Patrick Lozada and Eli Blood-Patterson met while students at Haverford College (2011), where found a shared passion for China and history. Since then, each has pursued separate careers focused on China and its relationship with the international community. Patrick works for the US-China Business Council, which represents American businesses in China. He has recently graduated from John Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies, where he studies China’s regional development agenda and how it relates to its macro-strategic goals. Eli is lawyer at the US-Asia Law Institute (USALI) of the NYU School of Law, where he researches comparative and international law. At USALI, Eli also leads professional workshops bringing together American experts and Chinese lawyers together for mutual learning in areas of public interest law. 

Eli and Patrick led a prior version of this workshop at the 2016 FGC Conference. We felt this was a great successs, which we were happy to see confirmed in participant reviews from the week.