Guest blogger 2: Trans Li — “To be an elite”

Guest blogger 2: Trans Li --
Our latest student blogger is another graduating senior, Li DongLing 李冬凌. Her English name is Trans, which is short for “translator,” her dream job. Her hometown is near the city of Changde, about three hours from here. She’s been my student since 2011. Trans is now interning in Shenzhen for an automotive tool-and-die factory. To be an elite The truth is, I am not an elite yet, and there is quite a long, hard journey ahead for me to reach that point, but I swear to be an elite in the future. It is a lifelong promise to myself. I am an ordinary girl without special talents, who comes from a small village. But looking back, life has never treated me as an ordinary girl since I was born. I dare not say I have been through many bitter and hard things. I only can say each thing that has happened to me has made me stronger and more mature. It is common to see people defeated by all kinds of troubles, and certainly I have met many troubles, too. The key for me surviving these troubles — even failures — is my own belief. I am an English major ...

From Danwei.com: What life is like for Chinese high school students

One of the staff writers at Danwei.com has written a poignant and illuminating essay about his experience as a high school (senior middle, in local parlance) school student. Here’s an excerpt describing the typical day in a Chinese high school. Contrast his description with life in your own high school. I have to say that high school is a monastery and an army boot camp combined. Eleven classes every day. We had to rise before dawn and went to bed after 11. After the last class, we were encouraged to use any bit of extra time for study. There was one student who would go to read his lessons every night in the toilet, because that was the only place where the light would be kept on 24 hours. Everyone hated him, because his breach of a delicate equilibrium that is vital for us to live in peace with each other — he studied just a little too hard. The school encouraged us to be frugal with our time. It had a slogan hanging from the main building: “Time is like water in sponge; if you squeeze harder, there is always more.” And contemplate this paragraph about the possible consequences ...

Students in (actually, not in) hot water 4

JISHOU, HUNAN — On Sunday we had a small student uprising, over hot water, or the lack of it. The student dorms here do not have water heaters providing hot water from the taps, so students usually use hot water pots or immersion heaters to get some hot water for drinking, washing, etc. Otherwise, they have to go downstairs to hot water dispensers outside the dorms, drop in some coins and fill their oversized Thermos jugs. Considering some dorms have eight floors, you can see why having an electric teapot might be desirable. Unfortunately, the wiring in some dorms is perhaps a little dodgy and at least 30 years old (I bet), so early Sunday morning there was an electrical fire in one of the women’s dorms. No big deal — no one was hurt and there was little damage — but the university responded with a typically quick bureaucratic response. Ban all electric heaters. No teapots. No immersion coils. No hotplates. Nada. This announcement came later that evening, and the students did not take to it kindly. In fact, they took to the campus, yelling, blowing whistles, banging metal lids together, around 11 pm, demanding the uni reverse its ...

Observations on Chinese student life 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — University life for students in China mixes the regimentation of a secondary boarding school with the freedom of young adulthood. After five months here, I still find the combination baffling. In a similar vein, I have learned that Chinese parents and secondary schools are generally far less liberal about their children’s social connections, especially dating, than most Western parents. This parental control can extend into the child’s university years, as well, to an extent that would drive most Western students batty. Whether the added supervision of teenagers and young adults is a good thing, I cannot and should not say. It’s not my culture, after all. On one level, I can understand the motivation for such tight control of youngsters. A child here is a precious investment in a family’s future, and because of national birth-control laws, an extremely limited resource. Most Chinese families can legally have only one child; if they live in a rural area, they can legally have two. There can be dire consequences for couples who have a little oopsie, and produce an additional child above the legal limit. Those consequences include hefty fines, additional taxes and job demotions or barriers. Chinese culture ...
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