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China Daily / 2021-06 / 11 / Page018

Are happiness and passion the secrets of long life?

By Kara Schroeder | China Daily | Updated: 2021-06-11 00:00

When I contemplate moving on from China, there are many things to consider: where I will decide to settle next, what my career will look like in another country, and how complicated it might be to relocate with all of the possessions I've accumulated over the years. But two questions I mull over the most often are,"Will I have seen and done everything I've wanted to in China?" and,"Would I want to live out my elderly life in the city or the country?"

Last month, I had the opportunity and privilege to travel to the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and visit some of the area's longevity villages, where many centenarians reside. This was one experience I wanted to have during my time in China. But being a work trip, there wasn't much messing about as we had to be efficient, although many unexpected incidents popped up. There were electricity shortages, last-minute schedule changes, insect attacks and even a car breakdown on the way to the airport. Nerves were frayed and patience was scarce; until we made it to Caixiang village, where I met 103-year-old Luo Youfu, my first interviewee for a video project I was working on.

Entering the village immediately gave a sense of repose. The birds chirped, the chickens clucked, the kittens mewed, and the people gave toothy smiles accompanied by curious gazes. The villagers are of the Yao ethnic group, which has many subgroups, each with their own dialect. Although I couldn't understand what they were saying, I could sense their peaceful approach and happy temperaments. My first view of Luo was his face that had a smile that reached his eyes.

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