Wednesday, October 13, 2004

High school visit

I've been readying a book called "Beijing Doll" by Chun Sue. It's a pretty amazing book and it all takes place right here where I spend my days. She dreams of Beida, hangs out in Wudaokou, and goes to shopping centers around here... and she talks about her high school. That got me interested in how the schools are around here. I asked Wang Jun to take me to see her school which is just a few blocks away from Beida. Today was a sunny day and she wanted to get away from her studies, so we went over for a little visit.

The RenDaFuXue (Associated high school to the Peoples University of China) is a very prestigious school and have more students qualify to Beida then even whole provinces! This year it was 87 student. A year a go Wang Jun was one of them. From the whole of Beijing there is not more than some 200 that qualify, so this school is pretty exceptional. I was told that there are two kinds of students there, those who study really hard and have fairly well of parents, and those with parents that are connected and/or are very rich. The school is like any high school in Singapore and that is very good for being in China. I would say that their facilities are better than that of Beida. The teachers I talked to seemed very nice and the atmosphere seemed very relaxed. This came as a surprise after reading Chun Sue's book, and after having listen to a series of radio programs about Beijing schools that was send on the Swedish public radio, that talks about a pretty oppressive system. I thought people here paid for putting pressure on their poor kids. That didn't seem to be the case at this place.

When entering the campus I felt that something changed. The atmosphere was different from that of the street just outside. The most obvious was that suddenly no one took notice of me anymore. Walking on any street in Beijing and even more in any other city and you always get a quick look by most people you pass by. These kids in this school must have been so used to foreigners (they have 20 foreign language teachers!) that they didn't care anymore! Wang Jun's relationship to some of her teachers was really like a friendship. We sat down with three of them and they talked about this and that. It was very relaxed and they seemed to like her very much.

Guess that is the one thing I really like about this place, I keep getting surprised about things.

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