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Published: July 14th 2006
"What will you give me?"
Students from TTC try to unload their year's dorm-room-refuse to a keen dealer.
For the students of Taizhou Teachers College in Jiangsu Province, China, the long awaited summer holidays have arrived, and let me tell you: "These are indeed HOT and HUMID summer days"! The graduates are receiving their diplomas and wonder, what will await them on the outside world, now that their undergraduate-studies are successfully completed.
I see them walking the school-campus excitedly, wearing their holiday best, bound document in hand. None look much older than one of our typical high school students, and it is difficult to think of them as new teachers.
It will now be their responsibility to pass on recently acquired knowledge to China's future leaders. Some are unsure of their fate, most might never see each other again.
This is a College, think of it, and dating is understood as a serious distraction. It is accepted this way in all schools. The desire for the lucrative and better teaching positions will be compromised to more disciplined classmates, and that is for ever the looming possibility and not acceptable. With it comes "loss of face", an important concept in China, and minimal financial resources for a brighter future. Others within the family rely on each graduate's
potential for support.
Few "couples-holding-hands" have ever passed me on our campus, and any conversation that deals with dating or relationships is treated with surprise and even embarrassment. It is not commentary to be encouraged, and this topic usually screetches to an uncomfortable halt.
I have found it best not to bring up such discussions. That permits more boring conversations of food and the weather, and I hope thoughts of contemplation for my wonderful students at Coral Gables Sr. High School: !! There is no squeezing into the corners and the walls of a school-building or corridor, and no teacher has to seperate two teenagers from mating with the comment: "Stop this activity, please !! I really don't want to be an uncle 9 months from now!!"
What a novel idea! :-)
In addition to searching for a "dream-job", most graduates will NOW keep "both" eyes open for their life's-mate, dream of creating and supporting a family, and nurture their 'one' son or daughter, who will hopefully provide and care for these yet-to-be parents. It has been expected of children in China for centuries, and I have the feeling, the "one child policy" will bring additional
"Let's see what you have"
Students selling on the left, and "vultures" to the right.
Man in blue checks for a potential sucker.
challenges for this ancient tradition.
Life will have hardships and tribulations for these new professionals, and each is keenly aware of the concept, "Survival of the Fittest". They must now shine above all others in China's changing and challenging economic times, and each must prove their superior talents among a bee-hive of some 1.4 billion others. That doesn't leave much room for mistakes, past or present.
The rest of the students have cleared their humble dormitories, many moving their meager belongings to another campus. The older dormitories are being renovated, and new constrution will bring additionally needed space.
What has accumulated in their small rooms for months, from plastics to paper and old books to a bamboo-bed-mat is being sold to very eager and enterprising men, waiting at the entrances of each building, to offer pennies for anything that might be recyclable.
I wouldn't call it a flea-market, but for a student to walk away with a few Yuan for their "saved-trash" is a challenge, at least on my corner of the college. These men know their trade. They know it's the end of the college term, and they are sure, that they hold each hopeful
It looks like a deal?
The basket brought an extra Yuan.
student by the "family jewels". With years of experience, they are ready to bargain hard for every plastic bottle, for ever piece of card-board, for an old piece of cloth.
Once the deal is done, I see the buyers flash each other a scheming-smile. The students walk away, wondering what had just happened to them, counting the meager few coins in the palm of their hand.
The most interesting deals are the old, used bycicles of the students. That "bike" has been transportation around Taizhou, perhaps even to a "secret girl-friend". :-) It was probably purchased with the most limited of funds and from the same dealer, who will now offer to buy it back.
The sentimental-value of each student's bike is of no concern to these "vultures". They are eager to point out the rust, dents, flat tires, and generally miserable condition of each bike, which months before brough them a handsome profit in the sale to this young man:
- "Oh, there is a ton more rust on this "bike"now. When I sold it, a few flakes of crome were visible."
+ "I have taken care of this bike like it was my child.
If you enlarge the photo, you will see the man in blue walking away with bike in hand.
It looks better now, than when I bought it from you."
- "Then you should keep it. Look, this guy wants me to buy his "rust-pile" also! At least his tires hold some air."
+ "Well, then give me 30 Yuan and I'll let you have it. Look at the tears in my eyes. It's like my child."
- "Don't let tears drop on the bike. You'll rust it even more, and it will be worth only a few Yuan to me."
+ "You charged me 50 Yuan when I bought it, and you told me you gave me a bargain!"
- "I'll give you 5 Yuan, and that's only because of the tears."
+ "15 Yuan is my bus-ticket home".
- "Tell your mother and father, I was generous and gave you 8 Yuan. Even the scrap-yard will reject it. They'll charge me to leave it with them."
+ "Oh dear Buddha! He has me by my family-jewels!!! ... and he wants me to say, thank you!!!!"
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