Voices of China's youth
Q & A with China's Generation Y.
Two teenagers from the book (Tao L. and Zhang X) explain whatever is on their minds.
Education & Competition
Are Chinese students more studious?
Tao L: I think that students in other countries study less time than we do, and have more free time to arrange. It seems that after we come home, we have a huge pile of homework, a sea of problems, and we spend all day working, working, working, and it seems that other students can spend more time on their interests.As for reducing the stress, even if the schools reduced the stress, there would still be a lot from the outside-extracurricular classes-even if just one student took those extra classes then naturally everyone has to too, or else you will fall behind.In the center of this is the influence of the parents hoping their sons will become dragons among men and that their daughters will become phoenixes among women.
You just mentioned studiousness. Do you think that overall Chinese students are more or less studious than foreign ones?
Zhang X: Of course. First, we spend much more much more time than they do in class. Then after we go home, we have to spend a certain amount of time on homework. They all have "soft" homework. I mean, they don't absolutely have to sit down in a chair and very seriously write or do math.
So what do you think caused that? Why do we Chinese have to study so painfully?
Because it's been that way since ancient times. Take up a book every day, and read and read and read. "Bitterly reading by the cold window" [a Chinese phrase that means studying very hard, no matter what the environment].
This is a cultural heritage. Are there any other factors?
Maybe it has to do with the fact that there are a lot of Chinese people, with the population. Competition is fierce. That's why we say the pressure of reality.Lots of people and few rice bowls.
What would you say are the five most important aspects of your life at present?
Zhang X: Um.family, friends.what else? I can't really think of anything else to say at the moment. My individuality is important. It can't be ignored. School.at least speaking for China, getting into college and getting into a good school and going to work is your life. I mean, it's a given. It has to be done. In other words, there is no shortcut to success.
Now if you could change one thing about your life what would you change?
Change something. change something. I would change the education system.
How would you change it?
Hmm. at least to have more opportunities. Or I mean to be able to change the point of views of adults and parents. Not the idea of college entrance exams or high school entrance exams, but the idea that studying is the only path. I think that concepts like these need changing.
A lot of people think that studying is superior to everything else, right? You think that that concept needs to change.
All I can say is that that is how parents show their care, or another way to put it is to say that parents are thinking about your future, and if you study hard, you will have a good future. Actually, this concept has been passed on for so many years, you can't blame them, and maybe by the time we are parents, we will be that way too.
But from the kid's point of view?
If you've got a really talkative parent, talking about it every day, every day, it will be reverse psychology, and the kid will get annoyed.
Is there anything you are afraid of?
Zhang X: I am afraid of losing my friends.
You consider your friends just as important?
Yes. Being alone is a bad feeling, and there are some things you get from your friends that are just not the same from your parents or relatives. It is better to talk about some things with friends, or with people the same age.
In other words, it's easier to communicate with them.
Right, they can understand you.
You still keep some things to yourself. Like what?
Zhang X: What do I keep to myself? Things I talk about with my classmates. Or maybe with parents, things that don't have to do with school and are bad, and shouldn't be things that people our age should care about. Sometimes.
Does that include relationships?
Yes, right. In terms of relationships, my father sometimes.my mom is really strict about that.my mom is really funny. A few of my female cousins are at college, and already have boyfriends. So they start talking and talking and get around to asking about me. My mom said-my mom is really funny-she said, "You-you are not allowed to have a boyfriend in college either!" haha. Then I have a cousin who has already started working, and my mom is very anxious [for her to get married], and she said she would help her by introducing some people. Then I said, "How can you do that? That is so unfair [a double standard]." She said that it's different, because it's not her own daughter.
Do you think your parents would strongly oppose to dating in high school?
Actually, I told my mom, since my grades are just so-so now, and if I found a boyfriend maybe my grades would get better. He wouldn't necessary have a negative effect, and he could help me with school. My mom didn't say anything. She said, "You're so little. What kind of love can you understand?" Geez.
Overall, when you are communicating with your parents, do you think that there is any generation gap?
Zhang X: A generation gap? Sometimes.
Mainly in what respect?
For example, in terms of my friends. They think it's OK for us to be friends. I think it's OK too. By my parents hope that I make friends with people who have better grades than me, and not to make friends with people who do worse, or people who like to dress up, since they think that girls who like to look nice don't want to study hard. I think there's a generation gap in this respect.
They want you to stay away from those girls, not to receive their influence?
Right. Especially the girls that call me on the phone and invite me to go shopping. My mom is nearby going: "Don't go, don't go, don't go." Our house has 2 phones, so she can listen over there. After I am finished calling, I am so angry I argue with her. Also, I told her that all of my friends are good, better than me, but it doesn't make any difference. Sometimes you just think, whatever, they're my parents. Why are they my parents? They're older than me, what can I do?
Do you think that the environment is important? For example, your learning environment, your home environment?
I think that the environment is pretty important to people. Like when I do homework, I like to be by myself, I don't want people next to me interfering. When I am practicing, I come home a bit late, you know? Normally everyone else has already eaten dinner, and then I sit by myself and eat, and on one side is my mom, and on the other my grandma. They watch me eat, and I can't stand it. I just don't like the feeling that I am being supervised by others.
You like to have your own free space? For yourself?
For myself? That's OK I guess, but I think I am a person who cares about others quite a bit.
Career & Goals
What do you want to do in your career?
Zhang X: Actually, before, I really wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, because the teachers there gave me a really good impression. Very kind. Teachers in preschools are so mean. And elementary school teachers are too harsh. Now, standards for kindergarten teachers are too high, now they have to be bilingual.
So your ideas [about a job] have changed?
Also, what made me change my idea is very important. These days children are more and more spoiled.
Harder to teach. OK. In other words, that profession is harder to do.
What can make you happy?
Zhang X: My goal in life? To be happy. Happiness is very important. To have a lot of friends, then to have a happy, stable family, and a stable income. Then.that's to say.basically these. A peaceful family and a calmer life is enough. I don't have high demands.
Differences between Chinese and American youth
OK. Next I would like to ask some of your opinions about society. First, do you think there is any difference between Chinese youth and American youth?
Zhang X: There are differences in terms of the level of openness and their thoughts.
In what respects do you think they are more liberal?
In terms of relationships between boys and girls, and then I also think there is a difference in terms of personality. Relatively speaking, Chinese people are more indirect, and foreigners are more open.
OK. What else?
Also, when they are little they receive different educations than we do. Maybe their way of thinking is different.
Do you think that they lean in favor of one type of way of thinking?
Chinese people are more rational, and foreigners are more emotional. [Chinese people] go by the book.
Filial Piety and Family
A big family. Chinese really emphasize family. Why do you think that we have this concept?
Zhang X: First.that also has to do with the past. And then.how do I say this.your parents gave birth to you and raised you.that's not easy. Also.things like filial piety have to do with your family environment since you were little.
That's to say, you learned as much from your parents' actions as from their words.
I mean filial piety, you know? I think so. Nowadays a lot of young people make that their standard in a mate.
Why do you think that people emphasize that?
Because Chinese people.if you could throw away everyone including your parents, you definitely have no conscience, you are not responsible, you are just not a good person, the definition of a good person. Our Chinese morality is just like that. So it's natural to accept.
Do you think it's good or bad? To think so much of family.
I think it's pretty good. If someone says his parents are bad-if he doesn't have a concept of family-if he wants to have a family of his own in the future.actually, this is one side of creating a family, and raising a family and having a sense of responsibility. I think that it will be beneficial later.
OK. Now China has a lot of imported goods. Also, Chinese manufacturers are studying foreign technology, Japanese and Korean technology. Do you like the introduction of Japanese and Korean technology? Or how do you see the situation?
Zhang X: There's nothing wrong with it. Accepting what is good about others to improve yourself, right? It's as if people are reading more books, studying more languages, in order to enrich themselves. They look at what others have done, and change themselves. There's nothing wrong with that. Like our teacher says, those who study math well-our math teacher said this-you copy down the things in the book, and then they are yours; all of the rules are there for you to follow; it's so regulated. You just go according to each one, each line, and there's nothing wrong with that.