Birthday Girl Toasts
Cathy toasts our table, flanked by Gary (left) and Oliver (right)
The significance of a Chinese young person reaching the age of 20 years cannot be underestimated. It is roughly equivalent to the importance that used to be associated with turning 21 years old in the West, only much, much more.
For the young person involved it marks their entry into the adult world and all that that entails. Their dreams of increasing independence are tempered with the realization of the equally increasing responsibilities. Responsibilities such as entering the workforce with a “good” job; finding a suitable partner, getting married and having a family and, of course, providing for their parents and sometimes even their grandparents into their senior years. A heavy burden, indeed.
For their parents it means a huge shift in their perceptions. Their son or daughter is no longer a child and now needs to make a mark in the world and help provide for a brighter future for the whole family. A task made all the more difficult in a country that now is 1.6 billion persons strong and where the majority of families adhere to the One-Child Policy.
In reality, the majority of Chinese young people are studying well into their twenties and
their lives are anything but independent. Every minute of every day, from 6am to lights out at 10.30pm, is accounted for. Personal time is almost non-existent. Couple that with the expectation that they will be well-established and married with a child by about the age of 25! Mixed messages indeed!
So share with me the experience of a number of 20th birthdays. Firstly, my friend Cathy, a student from nearby Taizhou Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine College; secondly some of my own students from Taizhou Teachers College and finally, Hannah, a young Aussie teaching English at a local school in the south of Taizhou.
In addition I wanted to celebrate Stef’s first birthday in China (not her 20th!) and my boss’s daughter Emma’s 18th birthday. We also celebrated her acceptance into the country’s #1 Foreign Language Institute in the country (in Beijing) to major in, of all things, Hungarian!
A very busy month or so!
Tot: 2.362s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 13; qc: 66; dbt: 0.0512s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb