As you may or may not know, our Summer Camp ended just a few weeks ago when our last Chinese student left us.
Now I had known her a little bit whilst we were in China, but because whenever she came over she would run in, do class with Paul and my Dad, and then have to run off again directly after, we never had time to talk or get to really know each other. But when you’re living with a person for two months in the same dorm room that will change very quickly.
I got to know her and I’m so happy to say that we’re actually now very good friends. She’s a wonderful young woman and I’m in awe of how far she’s come, and especially what she’s had to go through in order to get where she is now.
I already knew China was a crazy place with skewed views, but the stories she would tell every now and then blew me away. And the fact that she talked about some of these things so casually scared me. I couldn’t believe this was her norm.
So I thought I would ask her some questions, kinda like a little interview, and share her answers with you all.
((She typed these answers out for me, and I thought about changing some of her answers to make it slightly easier to read but decided not to. So if they sound a little off that’s why. 🙂 ))
What are three major differences you noticed about America compared to China while visiting?
-The food there is totally different from China. (Probably one of the most important different haha) I spent nearly a week to get use to all kinds of differences.
-The education system. From the setting of courses to the form of classes, everything is totally different from China. In fact, having 60 people in one classroom may also be interesting for American students to have a try. (JK)
-The structure and the design of the city. (That’s obvious haha)
What does a normal school day look like for you?
– As for a science student, the class starts at 7:00, so we should arrive at 6:40. We have a solid class, which means we have same seat, same classmates and same teachers everyday in every class. Between every 45 minutes, which is also the length of a class, there are 10 minutes break. Normally if you are a hard working student, you would stay in sit for every break because of the homework. We have lunch and dinner at school, and one of the favorite issue to think of every day for a student is what to eat. After dinner students are separated by their interests including maths, physics, chemistry, biology and computer programming(we really don’t like them). School ends at 9:00 in the evening.
What does a day off of school look like for you?
– Spending several hours on homework, playing cell phone under my mother’s regulation, then going to bed at mid-night.
Was there anything that you didn’t like about America?
– There is no way to find hot water when needed. (Typical Chinese thinking haha)
Do you think American high schoolers live a different life compared to Chinese high schoolers?
– The whole education system in American is different from that in China. In America, people focus more on personal interests, but they don’t go deep into the points. In China, students don’t have the right to choose what to learn, and the whole society value maths and science much more than Chinese and English.
What where a few things you loved about being in America?
– My friends in America and the awesome SAT class, the campus of UChicago, the architecture style in the East Coast, and salad with cheese XD.
Can you explain as briefly as possible why you started your bullying campaign and how it’s going?
– I set up the Teenager Anti-bullying Alliance for trying to change the situation at present of Chinese society. I did some research by accident, and I was shock to find out that the bullying problem is so severe in China. However, when I turned to the adults for help, they appeared to be simply indifferent, because they thought there is no way for their generation to do anything. That helped me make up my mind, because I realize that one day our generation will grow up to be the “adults”, and at that time, what if people still say “there is nothing we can do?”. Are we really going to leave the problem to the next generation by showing them we actually don’t care about the high rate of bullying among school ? The only answer is definitely no.
Now I ‘m doing just fine. We just set up every thing and still have a lot to learn. But we now have a public wechat account and 100 followers in different provinces. I do hope we are making changes, even though it may not be huge at first.
How do you handle the pressure that you’re constantly under? (about school, your career, college, etc.)
– Actually, Chinese people are really bad at coping with stress. As for myself, there is hardly a common way for myself to deal with stress. Luckily, I do believe that we are better at surviving under pressure, for we had been exposed to it for years. It has already been an old but annoying friend of us.(haha)
— —- —
I didn’t get to ask her much else, but I thought I would give you a little intro to what she’s like:
If you couldn’t tell already her English is amazing. Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s still impressive. She’s 17 years old and working crazy hard in school, trying to keep her head above the waves and trying to balance all that with what little of free time she has left over. Her Anti-Bullying Campaign started earlier this year and I remember being SO surprised when I heard about it. It just seemed so out of character for a Chinese person to try to make a difference this way. But then she’s not just any Chinese person. She interviewed us all about our experience with bullying, discipline, etc. and she’s still going strong, getting anyone and everyone she can, involved.
It took her a week or so but she warmed up to us, our way of living, the way we do laundry, and even our sense of humor. It was one of the last nights before she left, and we were at a family’s home for dinner just us kids hanging out. The boys were telling jokes and all that and someone asked her something and she responded totally deadpanned with the most sarcasm I’d ever heard from her. I leaned over to Grace but said loud enough for her to hear, “She’s got to go back to China. She’s caught on to using sarcasm.” Her little smug smirk and chuckle when she heard that made us laugh even harder.
And that’s just hardly scratching the surface. There was so much more I wish I could share with you, or even just have you be a fly on the wall for all the conversations we had during the past two months.
From goofy stuff like showing her what she looks like with curled hair, or makeup, to more important things like friendship and what having fun looks like, it was crazy to get to show someone all those things for the first time. It sounds cliche, but it really does make you appreciate the way you were brought up, and living like we do when someone new comes along, and finds even the littlest things mind blowing.