Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Unpredictable China

Yesterday I heard rumors that Tuesday's morning classes had been cancelled because all freshmen and sophomores had to attend the graduation ceremony.  I went to the office to verify this rumor, but the office workers just said, "You have class  on Tuesday."  I felt a sense of relief since I had freshmen oral English final exams on Tuesday.
Today as I was preparing to carry my bike downstairs to ride to new campus in the rain, I got a phone call from the monitor of my Tuesday's class, "Jennifer, we don't have class today.  We have to go to a meeting." 
"Okay.  Well your final will be next Tuesday then."
Americans often feel like we have some control over our lives and futures.  We have many choices.  After graduating from high school, we can choose our university, then our major, then our career.  We can even change careers. We plan and organize weeks in advance and feel certain that very few things will disrupt our schedules.  We feel like hard work will lead to the successful realization of dreams and plans.
In China, everything is unpredictable and fate predicts and controls one's life and future.  Exam scores dictate your future, dictate if you go to university, which one university might accept you, which major you can try for.  Once those things have been set it is nearly impossible to change or to go after your true dreams.  
My students have a sense of hopelessness.  I don't want to be a teacher, but there is nothing I can do about it.  I want to take my final exam today, but I have to go to the graduation ceremony.  I don't want to be in the Tai Qi performance but if I don't show up for practice I will be fined money.  I want to marry my boyfriend/girlfriend, but I must obey my parents' wishes.  The only predictable thing in China is that some outside force will control your plans and future.  

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