Thursday, May 05, 2011
「這是個拼爹的時代」I suppose anyone in the teaching business has one of those days when you just drop down to nothing but this single doubt if anything that you do would really make a difference in your students' life. And you feel that you are that one last fool on earth who still clings on to that possibility there.
Today happened to be one of those days.
In the end, the issues may not be the students per se but the system. This system that has brewed so much disinterest, disillusion, and disbelief in them and in what you once believed in so deeply and cherished so highly as a young, 20-something-old-year, waking up in your dorm room and treading down that morning light to go to your Japanese class, political theory class, prayer meetings, ethics debate - in full eagerness and excitement, knowing that you are going to learn something new and inspiring today.
Worse, you feel completed robbed by the system - ROBBED, down to your bone.
Not just b/c the system has robbed your students away from you, eroded the impact of your dedication and passion, or taken away the possibilities for them to see what you had seen and experienced - that simple eagerness to wake up and just soak up and soar, like a free bird and an enlightened soul.
More than that, b/c you feel that the system has even robbed you from what has meant the most to you - your very ability to "believe" in those good days and the possibilities of re-creating those days at a different place, a different time, to a whole new generation of students.
The system has robbed your past - this past that has made you who you are today through the teaching of this one simple ideal - the ability to make a difference, and the belief that that difference will happen.
I can almost hear the system sitting there, in the dark, poking its invisible finger at you, mocking you, and just waiting very patiently for that day to come when you throw in the towel and say -
I quit too.
Leaving the system the only player in the field.
Today, one of my students told me this in class - Prof. Shaw, there's a famous saying in China nowadays: 「這是個拼爹的時代」
Namely - "We live in a day and age where we compete to see who has greater dads (not how hard we work or how good we are)".
She's merely a sophomore in college.
Then, at lunch, another student told me - this past semester, the business school hired a returnee, a Stanford graduate. He was a great professor, and they loved his class.
Sadly, the school - pulling its all too familiar old tricks - failed to keep up their words. And the last thing my student heard was - this professor has decided to quit, having not even finished a full semester.
8 months into my new life in China - I've not only got my financial security robbed away from me, students of great potentials and ideals robbed away from me, the prospect of having "the great next chapter" in life robbed away from me. Worse, it has robbed one more thing from me -
My long-held belief that yes, one can make a difference, one should make a difference, and yes, one of the most beautiful things about life is the very fact that one has the ability to "believe" in that possibility and never give up.
Maybe today is just one of those days.
Or maybe this is just the current reality of China.
Either way - I got the combination of both today. And the combo ain't going to disappear anytime soon.
I'm not sure if I should envy the courage of that Stanford doctor who decided to quit, or encourage myself for more courage to stay.
Interestingly, "The Soloist" - this amazing film that brought me to tears tonight - left me with this one final quote:
"I've learned the dignity of being loyal to something you believe in. Of holding onto it, above all else. Of believing, without question, that it will carry you home."
梅ちゃん at 1:53:00 AM