10.5 million Chinese teenagers are taking part in central university entrance exams right now in China. But there are only six million places. The pressure is immense. Some Chinese students do nothing but study the whole year round for these exams. But the Sichuan earthquake seems to have changed things about the way young Chinese consider the future. At least the young Chinese schoolchildren at a school in northern China, whose education is partly financed by a German NGO.
The relief efforts after the Chinese earthquake have inspired schoolchildren to become aidworkers or soldiers
They have bitterly poor origins but their futures are bright. The 16 and 17-year-old students from Middle School Number One in Rizhao in northern China are getting ready to sit their exams next year.
Their future plans have been reshaped by the earthquake and its shattering consequences.
Ren Na says that her “dream is to become a voluntary helper and to contribute to peace in the world. The whole world was worried about the victims of the earthquake in Sichuan. I am grateful to our friends for that. We are all at home on the earth and it is our responsibility to make the greater family happier, when it needs help.”
Helping to change the world
Helping is the broad theme of most of the 34 teenagers whose schooling is financed by the Baden Baden-based NGO “Hope,” even if they want to study economics.
"I am dreaming of becoming a businessman like Bill Gates,“ says one boy. “I want to support my family and other people.”
One girl voices her dream: “I want to become very rich in order to help other poor people -- especially in China’s southwest. The people there are much poorer than we are and I would like to do something against that. There are also the Africans, who need even more help.“
Doctor, teacher, soldier
The number one dream profession seems to be doctor, followed closely by teacher and politician (“to strengthen the country”). Soldier is also quite high on the list.
"I have always wanted to be a soldier,” says Yi Zedong “Have you heard about the earthquake in Wenchuan in the south of China? The first people on the scene were soldiers. Soldiers can be compared to fish with the people being the water. Many think like me in China -- in my class too. Even girls want to go into the army. Even if the life of a soldier is very strict and gruelling, I think this experience is important.”
Only one schoolchild wants to be a lawyer, and Zhuan Lei is the only one of 34 who dreams of going into journalism. "I once read an article about a famous reporter whom I have revered ever since. Then there was the Wenchuan earthquake. I saw that there were many journalists reporting from the catastrophe zone. I thought: ‘If I become a reporter, I’ll also be the first one at the front’. And I still want to go to the front whether it’s dangerous or not -- I want to report in order to help people.“