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July 20, 2009

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The problem solver of Xintiandi

Navigating cultural disputes can be tricky.

Enter Lu Jing. The director of Xintiandi Community Work Station weaves her blend of magic to stamp out problems among residents.

"Everyone has this big notion that community workers have to work in a different style here," said Lu. "But nobody knows how."

Community workers in the mini "United Nations" - expats make up 80 percent of the neighborhood's population - have to figure out a new way to solve problems each time.

Lu said her biggest secret is to look at a problem from more than one point of view.

"I always have to conquer my inherent thoughts by trying to view a problem from another culture's perspective," said Lu, who has worked at the station for three years.

She recalled a case that didn't end well. A Shanghai resident ignited fireworks in the neighborhood and blasted a water bucket off a Singaporean resident's water purification equipment.

Lu was called in to help. Despite her best efforts, both sides failed to reconcile. She later recommended they go to court and she doesn't know what happened afterward.

In a case with a happier outcome, she got involved when Americans partied late at night, annoying an expat neighbor. Lu helped them reach an agreement on an appropriate time to end such get togethers.

Another part of Lu's job is to organize activities for the community's residents. She has provided information on Chinese language tutors and invited police and lawyers to answer residents' questions.

"There is no textbook for what I do," Lu said.

"I just have to figure things out case by case."


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