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?
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?