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JISHOU, HUNAN, CHINA -- The term is over, and I have just finished a grueling round of reading short essays and longer research papers from 157 college juniors. This one stands out as the most poignant cause-effect essay I have ever read. It will give you a glimpse into the "other side" of China, away from all the glitz and glitter of the big cities. You can also get a feel for the constant tug between tradition and new ways of thinking as China enters the world stage.

The author is a transfer student, who has already finished three years of junior college and is now a year short of getting her bachelors degree. (Five years altogether). JiDa in the essay refers to Jishou University (Jishou Daxue, in Chinese). I have only cleaned up her grammar and punctuation. The rest is all hers.

[Cross-posted at Wheatdogg's World.]

This Time, May I Have to Give Up?
by Chanel

It is not easy for me to study in Jishou University. Even though I really want to study till my graduation, this time, it seems like that I have to give up my study.

After graduating from Hunan Foreign Trade College, it is almost impossible for me to go to JiDa, because there are massive debts in my family. My entire family doesn’t agree that I should go to JiDa. I want to go this university, because I want to accept the real higher education. So, last summer holiday, I worked very hard to earn money to go to school. But about one year later, I am meeting the same question again: my father wants me to go to work as soon as possible. I have three younger brothers, the eldest will marry at the end of the year. You know that, in Chinese mainland, a son's marriage is a costly affair. All of them are common workers, and before that, my mother got a long sick, which cost lots of loans. Most importantly, many years ago, my brother give his opportunity to go to school to me. From then on, I feel always guilty – as an eldest children in my family, I have responsibility to them, but I can do nothing to help them. But my brother used his future to exchange for my future. He give me another life.

But I am a woman with profound thinking, I am a woman with my own dream, I want to complete my education in JiDa. I want to finish my college, I clearly know that knowledge is power. Especially through an unhappy childhood, when I was very young, our family was so poor that we even have no food. I clearly remember that my mother was badly ill but there was no money to get a doctor. She was in so much pain. So I don’t want to have an unhappy future. I want to continue my school. If I abandon it, I don't know what can I do.  But what I know is that the great tragedy would be a miserable childhood followed by personal tragedy.

All in all, I am at the crossroads.  I do not know: what should I choose?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    The gentleman values harmony, not uniformity; the small man values uniformity, not harmony. -- Confucius (early pundit)

    by wheatdogg on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:02:35 AM PDT

  •  Wow, in ways it seems like things here but... (0+ / 0-)

    I have talked with friends going thru the same thing here but most will go to night school at the worst.

    i have experienced Asian culture (Japan, Vietnam) and to them family is more important perhaps than in the united states. Maybe that is why Asian Americans are a more prosperous minority than others. Too bad she can not use the crowd source websites we can sometimes do here.

    So close and yet so far away.

    Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things. Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) Just A Real Nice Guy, thinking out loud.

    by arealniceguy on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 11:18:34 AM PDT

  •  father wants her home to work and help pay debts (0+ / 0-)

    right now, right?

    BUT, if she quits college now for that short-term purpose, she would also be throwing away her brother's sacrifice, AND condemning the whole family to lose MORE in the long term, because she won't be earning what she COULD eventually, with the higher education...

    seems kinda' penny wise & pound foolish from here

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:27:35 PM PDT

    •  It's typical (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for families in the Chinese countryside. I have another student, also a girl, in a similar situation. Her father is disabled, her mother is gone. Yet, when she comes home for holidays, dad won't let her go out for work or allow her to work away from home during the holiday. She is confined to the house. It seems to be a fairly typical attitude toward unmarried daughters -- many of my female students report the same situation. They have to finagle ways to get out of the house, or just not go home at all when classes end.

      Not all parents are like this, but (as in America) many country folks do not see the value of a college education. And in China, there is the added prejudice against girls as somehow being less worthy than boys. I would guess that if Chanel were a Charlie, her family would do whatever possible to send him to school. Girls, however, are supposed to be subservient to fathers, brothers and eventually husbands. So, that's her dilemma.

      The gentleman values harmony, not uniformity; the small man values uniformity, not harmony. -- Confucius (early pundit)

      by wheatdogg on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 12:10:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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