Can Youth Baseball Save a Remote Chinese Town from Segregation?

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Can Youth Baseball Save a Remote Chinese Town from Segregation? Can Youth Baseball Save a Remote Chinese Town from Segregation?
Culture

Can Youth Baseball Save a Remote Chinese Town from Segregation?

by Theo Schell-Lambert

August 16, 2010

Anyone writing about ethnic strife in China’s remote Xinjiang province has an obvious opening anecdote: Han Chinese in the region run their clocks on Beijing time, but the large local Uyghur population goes by earlier hours. Tensions between the two groups—which came to worldwide notice during last summer’s clashes in the capital city of Urumqi—run old, deep, and overt. Segregation is even sanctioned in Xinjiang University dorms.

But in the last few years, a group of students at the school has found an unlikely palliative in the form of an integrated baseball team. “Baseball is not a popular sport in China, especially not in Xinjiang,” says Parhat Ablat, a recent graduate and the team’s former captain and all-around guru. Perhaps that’s made it an ideal blank slate. Working with donated equipment, Ablat—whose mission is the subject of a recent documentary titled Diamond in the Dunes—has mentored his charges in the fundamentals and arranged for them to travel to distant games against far more experienced teams.


Photos courtesy of Parhat Ablat
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