Mike Meyer (China 1995-97) will be talking about The Last Days of Old Beijing — May 7th 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the New York Asia Society and Museum: 725 Park Avenue, New York (Cost: $7 students and members, $10 nonmembers)

Mike Meyer after his Peace Corps tour lived — as no other Westerner has — in a shared courtyard home in Beijing’s oldest neighborhood, Dazhalan, on one of its famed hutong (lanes). There he volunteered to teach English at the local grade school and immersed himself in the community, recording with affection the life stories of the Widow, who shares his courtyard; co-teacher Miss Zhu and student Little Liu; and the migrants Recycler Wang and Soldier Liu; among the many others who, despite great differences in age and profession, make up the fabric of this unique neighborhood.

Their bond is rapidly being torn, however, by forced evictions as century-old houses and ways of life are increasingly destroyed to make way for shopping malls, the capital’s first Wal-Mart, high-rise buildings, and widened streets for cars replacing bicycles. Beijing has gone through this cycle many times, as Meyer reveals, but never with the kind of dislocation and overturning of its storied culture now occurring.

Mike will be joined in conversation with Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society. Check out the Asia Society website for more details.