Wednesday, July 25, 2007

High School Students of YX

We spent a week at the number 1 high school of YX, a county with a million inhabitants, mostly farmers. A good education is their best way to escape from countryside. Hence the school is very proud of the achievements of her students, posting the names of the universities that accepted her graduates.

Students were doing their self-studies at 8 pm on a Sunday evening. They get up at 5:30 am, start self-study at 6:05 am, and attend the first class at 7:35 am. Classes end at 4:25 pm, but self-study lasts until 10:00 pm. Lights in the dormitory are turned off at 10:30 pm. In between, they do have a 3 hour lunch-siesta break and a 2 hour dinner break. But they do this for 7 days a week; there are no week-ends. Summer vacation is only 2 weeks long.

The students dress very simply, some may even be considered scruffy looking and lacking in manners. Most are very shy. But you start talking to one, and others will crowd around you - they are actually very inquisitive. Most have a reasonably good vocabulary in English but are not accustomed to listening and speaking – due to lack of opportunities to practice, obviously. All are very kind hearted. It is impossible not to like them after spending time with them.

My curiosity was piqued when a boy told me he does not like to read but does like to study. In Hong Kong it is more likely the other way around (or even more likely, they like neither). Later, I learned that it was because studying (academic books) add to knowledge needed for advancement while reading (presumably non-academic books) distracts. In some ways, these kids are pressured to mature too quickly.

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