Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gansu and Sichuan Students

One reason why I choose to stay a fourth year in PC China was to discover if students from different provinces were different. 
The Gansu college I taught at was a 4-year school training future teachers in a city with a population of several 100,000.  The students were from Gansu, small towns.  Their parents were farmers. 
The Sichuan college where I am currently teaching is a 3-year vocational school training tourism and business students in a city with a population of 14 million.  The students are mostly from Sichuan, smaller towns than Chengdu.
In America there are differences between kids raised in a city compared to those raised in more rural settings.  There are differences between kids raised in California compared to those in Alabama.  So I expected there to be differences between the students raised in Gansu and Sichuan provinces.
Have I noticed many differences?  Not really.  There are three major differences though.  The Sichuan students have been exposed to more American media like "Gossip Girl" and Lady Gaga.  The second difference is many of the students' parents don't live in Sichuan, but are migrant workers.  In Gansu, most of the students lived with their parents in Gansu before going off to college.  The Sichuan students were raised by their grandparents being forced to stay in the province where they were born.  In order to take national exams, their ID cards require them to take the exams in the province the ID card was issued from.  The third difference is incredible.  Many of the Sichuan students have part-time jobs making 1,000 RMB a month.  My living allowance is only a little more at 1,500 RMB.  In Gansu, the students were happy making 15-20 RMB/hour, maybe working a few hours per week.
There are many similarities.  Students are traditional and feel like they need to be married by 24-25.  They are strongly loyal to family.  Their English level is similar and they are energetic, motivated, young in maturity and love their English teacher.  When asked to make a poster about a geography section of the book, students tended to just re-copy a photograph next to that section of the book instead of reading the text to find words they could draw or use for the poster.  When five students were asked to go to the chalkboard and draw the body parts of a monster that their classmates described, the students drew the exact same monster.  All five of them had almost the exact same drawing.
The students in Gansu and Sichuan are very similar.  The English teachers on the other hand are quite different.  The teachers at my Sichuan college are not as traditional as the ones in Gansu.  They married later than 24-25.  Their English is amazing and they have such a variety of opinions.  They are less shy to use their English and many of them have cars!


M said...

It's pretty crazy for the teachers...
My counterpart's husband had a car and she never even thought of getting a license. The car is her husband's, not her, she's not even allowed to drive....

universalibrarian said...

Very interesting. :) I would be curious about that too. Sounds like you have nice colleagues.