XChange Profile – Xuying Swift
A native of Tianjin China, Xuying Swift spent her early years with her three siblings and parents – surrounded by her extended family – enjoying a traditional Chinese upbringing in a quiet rural village. When she was 12, Xuying’s family moved to the city, where she completed her education. After marrying her American husband, she moved to the U.S. and his hometown of Bozeman to obtain a better education for their then two-year-old son. When her third child started Kindergarten, Xuying began coursework toward earning a degree in computer science – a pursuit combining her loves of language and math – from Montana State University.
As a mother, a student and a daughter born under the one-child policy, a Chinese population planning policy limiting the number of children parents could have, Xuying lends an interesting perspective to the conversation and controversy surrounding population control. Arguably one of the world’s most extreme approaches thus far to controlling population growth, the one-child policy was introduced in 1979. Recent studies revealing significant impacts to the male and female birth ratios, resulting in a population of bachelors with no brides (which might, thereby, continue to control birth rates), brought the policy to its final and conclusive end in 2015. “I think people tried all kinds of ways to have a boy: some people paid funds in order to have boys, some people had abortions when they found out the baby’s gender, some people even abandoned their baby girls,” remembers Xuying. “I don’t think that people were aware of what was going on elsewhere around the world,” Xuying further explains. “The Chinese government was good at controlling media and public options.” Interestingly, the one child policy was effective, even though it wasn’t strictly followed, says Xuying. “Throughout middle and high school, a large proportion of my classmates were single children and, of those that weren’t, most only had one sibling.” But, was it a good policy, one to be admired and emulated as the world teems with more people and fewer resources?
As a mother of three, Xuying’s choices might speak to her opinion. But, not entirely. “There are limited resources,” Xuying points out, and plenty of influences on human behavior, such as the economy and education, that should be studied and addressed. “People can’t just do whatever they want.” The biggest challenge, she argues, is in attention: to important global issues, to the products we choose, and to the big companies behind them. Further, it is an attention to what we know versus what we are told. Propaganda is a major force. While its impact may have been easily recognized in the one-child policy era of Chinese history, propaganda can be far less obvious, with implications on national and international levels. “Some governments and companies really need to take more positive, active roles for us to see bigger changes,” urges Xuying.
While current environmental, humanitarian and political challenges are certainly of concern, Xuying and her husband try to focus on what they can accomplish today. “We try our best to educate our three children so that they grow up to have respect for the planet and others,” Xuying explains. “I think if I can influence my children to be better human beings, that will be my biggest impact.”