After spending some quality time with large numbers of the youth of this nation last weekend, I have a few thoughts i must convey:
if China is looking to be a superpower, to whom would they look for examples of what to do?
Both US and Chinese education systems indoctrinate the youth. In america we have more choices, this is one big social difference. The american system was designed to turn immigrants into americans. The chinese system is designed to make everybody chinese. i think it is clear that the chinese system has had more success.
the kids here have it rough. they get up at 630am and stay in school until 11pm. thats right ya'll. 11. they go to school from 730am to 6pm on saturdays and from 5pm to 9pm on sundays. they get one sunday a month off. this year the may holiday, normally one week, has been officially shortened to one day.
They study all sorts of things we dont and naturally their math and sciences are incomprehensible to the average american student. only a fraction of the society makes it to high school and from that only a fraction pass the tests to get into college. its not the money, its the tests. imagine having tests that are designed to prevent a large swath of society from advancing because there are not enough spaces in the universities. There may be some cutthroat action going on, but from what i have seen and heard, high school classmates are bonded by shared suffering.
They react as one sometimes, know and love the innermost secrets of each other, have nicknames, all agree on who sings the best, who is the most handsome, who sleeps too much, who is a punkass and who is the flower. those people also wholeheartedly sing, smile, sleep and cause trouble so as to maintain balance and solidarity in the face of hardship.
The past few days, CNN's coverage of the Olympics has gained widespread coverage in the chinese media and sarkovy's snubbing of the opening ceremonies has pissed someone off. an SMS has been sweeping the area calling for all patriots to boycott Carrefour (french supermarket) on May 1st. Today an article appeared in the Chengdu Daily ridiculing the link between Carrefour and patriotism, reminding the people that the Olympics are not political and patriotism is best expressed other ways then closing your pocketbook.
People here are thinking about the whole China vs. the world issue and they are calm, bewildered and resigned about it. Life is more important than this type of shit, most people be thinking. They also lack a lot of information. The netbars around schools have firewalls more robust than your average internet spot. in my conversations with my chinese homies, i keep silent with those whose emotions take over and speak with respect to those who want to understand. I try my best to be an ambassador of friendship and peace. several of my antiwar columns have been branded as racist. but as with anywhere you grow attached to, i have a love-hate relationship with this spot.
today, by the way, was one beautiful day in Chengdu. and i am about to go get me some hot pot. word to skip james.