How to Live with Purpose in Chengdu

This guest post was authored by first-time contributor Hyobin Sung, a Korean American who’s been in Chengdu since 2011. During her time in Chengdu’s, she’s been a community organizer and has more recently been running a local second hand shop called Second Hand Second Story. You can spot her around Chengdu on her bamboo bicycle loaded with donations, or online at her website.

SeekingHow one defines purpose in life differs from person to person. Some may define it as finding work-life balance, some may call it finding happiness or being successful, rich and famous. What I believe is a common denominator is that we all want purpose in our lives; whether it be in the realm of our professional lives, social networks, or personal lives. We wouldn’t all find ourselves living overseas in Chengdu if we didn’t find it in ourselves the desire and drive to find that purpose.

What I do find often in midst of conversations surrounding this same topic of what is purposeful living is how some people see it as an idealistic or an abstract goal. I would beg to differ and say finding purpose is so deeply rooted and seeped into our lives, it’s what makes us excited or nervous to get up in the mornings, and what makes us light up or anxious when talking about our latest experiences, projects, or fears and doubts.

Four years ago when I first came to Chengdu, finding spots that provided creative and cultural outlets and platforms to converse about experiences were incredibly difficult to find. Among the few were mostly bars, a few scattered art galleries, and a handful of events happening sporadically that it was common among expats to discuss our longing for lively art, music, community, and cultural scenes.

Chengdu construction
Construction in Chengdu’s tech zone, part of the city’s furious expansion

Fortunately, we live in a city that is growing not just economically but also culturally and creatively adding layers to the options we have to choose from and to explore.  I believe what individuals are looking for in terms of living a purposeful life can range from finding a community, wanting to contribute to something bigger, being inspired to create and to produce new ideas and of course to learning and growing both professionally and personally. The choice is yours and below are some neat communities growing in Chengdu that many may not be familiar with but may find interest in!

Contribute to a Cause 

Philanthropic opportunities may seem difficult to find for many wanting to volunteer and spend time doing good. Worry no more, below are three organizations that you can get involved right away to start making a difference.

Roots & Shoots: Local chapter of Jane Goodall’s youth-led community learning program focusing on the environment, humanitarian efforts and education. They are hosting their annual yard sale on May 23rd at Quality Schools International (QSI)

???? Green Earth: Chengdu’s own recycling & environmental organization bringing recycling with incentives to you! Click here and sign up to become their recycling member and to receive your own bar code and start collecting points.

Learn & Educate

You want more than just to simply network and exchange business cards? Want to find a platform to share your project ideas, discuss topics in depth about your industry, or even better and learn about industries you don’t know anything about? Here are some places to check out.

?????Café in the Dark: A branch off of Dialogue in the Dark. This venue offers free weekly sign language classes, co-op working space under their “workspace” campaign and hosts various community events including live mini concerts and workshops! It is a great space to meet over great selection of refreshments and to get working. This is a great place to meet Chinese professionals.

  • Address in Chinese: ???71?1?
  • Address in English: 71 Hong Ji Alley (near iBOX & Niu Wang Miao Metro Station)

????Ace Youth: A Chinese youth-based, idea-sharing, and change-making platform where young people are the agents for change in the world. They focus on exchanging ideas to solve social problems through helping young Chinese develop independent thinking, social responsibility, and action driven solutions.

????ColorMeFun: ColorMeFun organizes monthly beginner level painting classes at neat venues all over Chengdu.  They organize water color and acrylic lessons over a nice pot of tea or wine and each participant takes home not only their final painting but a hands on experience and one on one interaction with the instructor.

  • WeChat: colormefun

“Second Thoughts” Workshop Series: Second Hand Second Story shop’s bi-monthly workshop series focusing on specific industries ranging from creative fields to sex education.  Open for public to come join in on the conversation and engage in interactive workshops with experts from diverse backgrounds. Provides Chinese and English workshops. Free and open to public to enjoy.

  • WeChat: ershouergushi

Spend Mindfully

We’ve become in many ways better and more mindful consumers, thanks to better information and social campaigns by great organizations as well as new economic models that focus on providing different options. Many of us care about where our products come from; it’s footprint and our own footprints.  We want to spend smarter and do as much as we can to be more environmentally conscious.  This may seem impossible as we live and breathe what is a developing economy here in China, however, below are examples and options for those who are willing to make that extra effort happening here in Chengdu.

Chengdu river
Overlooking the river in Chengdu at dusk

One City Nature Education Center: They put together monthly farmer’s market close to Dufu’s cottage every third Saturdays of each month. Go check out fresh and organic produce, baked goods, handcrafts and second hand items.

  • WeChat: onecitynec

Thrift Clothing Complex: Hidden away in the bustling shopping area of Chunxi Road, this ???complex is a “thrifters” heaven. Anything from bright neon track suits to Japanese wool coats. It’s hard to believe something like this exists in the heart of modern commercialism but it’s worth a peak or even a whole day’s outing! 58 Shuwa Middle Street. ????58?.

  • No website or wechat!

Second Hand Second Story: Local second hand shop with pop-up sales and donation drop-offs.  Moving away and need to find a new home for your things? New to Chengdu and need gently used second hand IKEA goods?

  • WeChat: ershouergushi  

Find Your Community

We are social creatures: we love to interact, to share, and to mingle. We’re in luck. Chengdu’s community scene has been growing strong each year adding different outlets outside of just the nightlife scene.

Swing Chengdu: Local dance club ranging from Swing, Lindy Hop, to Charleston. They offer weekly socials at local bars and great classes. WeChat: SwingChengdu

Bookworm Writing Group: The group meets every Wednesday at 7.30 pm except holidays. Email: [email protected]

Chengdu International Women’s Club:

Rotary Club of Chengdu:


Natooke Bike Polo & Friday Night Community Ride: Bring a bike or rent a bike. Friday night ride meets every Friday at 8PM at the shop. Bike polo meets every Saturday at 4PM at Sichuan Gymnasium. WeChat: Natooke??

Rugby: Anyone interested in joining the male or female rugby teams in Chengdu contact: [email protected]

Don’t see what you’re looking for? You’re in luck because we live in a city where anything is really possible. That’s the charm of Chengdu and what makes your choices here really worthwhile.  So make that choice to add onto the layers of Chengdu and make the choice to share your ideas and inspiration with others.

If you’re a member of a group in Chengdu that brings meaning to your here, share it below.

14 thoughts on “How to Live with Purpose in Chengdu”

  1. Finding “your place” in Chengdu by discovering like-minded people moving toward the same thing as yourself can make all the difference. This is an excellent list of things to check out in the city, but I will add a few that I have checked out:

    Kung Fu Komedy: stand-up comedy night at Bookworm which is open to people who want to give comedy a shot. Great to see people put it all on the line and take a chance, sometimes it bring amazing results. The last event was just a few weeks ago.

    Chengdu Startup Weekend: a weekend event that periodically happens at the Beer Nest, where teams come together to create and develop innovative business ideas:

    Chengdu Gaming Federation: this is a thing I am involved with, so I am biased, but it is a group of people who meet weekly to hang out and play independent multiplayer games on a huge projected screen at Machu Picchu:

    I’m sure there are many more, but that’s all I got off the top of my head.

    • Thanks Charlie for sharing these! The last two I’ve been meaning to check out but time has not been on my side.

  2. I agree with you 100% that purpose is paramount. Purpose not only drives your life, but every choice you make throughout the day. Nice article. Taking this advice, I’m pretty sure my personal purpose in this country is coming to a very quick close. 😉

  3. Hi Hyobin, One City Educational Center sounds great. I added their WeChat but can’t seem to find any information for future events, only past. Or if they have an office I could stop by to learn more about other activities they’re doing. I am a beginner with learning Chinese so navigating websites/wechat in Chinese is challenging. Can you offer any other information about them? I am new to Chengdu and looking for ways connect with people. 🙂

    • Hi Jenna, apologies for my late response! Sure, here are a couple more WeChat accessible accounts: livingfair, a4artcenter, DiningCity_Chengdu. They are mostly in Chinese, you can utilize “translate” function on your wechat to get the gist. I still recommend these because they share events which are hosted by great Chinese organizations. Hope you can find more outlets in Chengdu. Thanks for reading 🙂

  4. Hi, I’m interested in the Lindy Hop but you haven’t put any website, do you have more information about it please? Thanks a lot! Very nice article!


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