My Shanghai Normal University English writing class students shared both quotations that inspire them and their own words of wisdom during their final exam. The selections reflect a bit about these lovely 20-year-old Chinese students and their values.
Zoe quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
Teemo quoted Brioso, Brioso, “Hut! Two, three, four. Big targets are the best – there’s more to aim at.”
“God helps those who help themselves,” Black noted Benjamin Franklin’s quotation in his essay about his failing the college entrance exam the first time he tried (when all his friends passed). Black studied another whole year and tried again . . . and he is now a very good student at SHNU! Black’s experience has taught him, “Everyone is the master of his or her fate . . . [and] Although the reality is cruel, we should keep our dreams and aspirations.”
Woody quotes the Chinese proverb, “Where there is life, there is hope.” She also says, “Your heart decides whether you are beautiful, not the face.” Her mom told her, “Failure is the mother of success.”
Iverson quoted Shakespeare, “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”
Candy says, “I learn experiences from the school life. I get happiness from my family. The world I come from is easy and satisfying.” [University life for the students can be quite different from the anguish most Chinese students experience in trying to get into a college. And because Candy is female, she does not have the societal and family pressure to get the high-paying position necessary for the males]
Charlotte cited Albert Einstein, “Try not to become a man of success but rather, try to become a man of value.”
“Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul,” Seven noted this General Douglas MacArthur quotation.
Hilary quoted Confucius, “Better to light one candle than curse the darkness.”
Maevis wrote about who inspires her: “Because of Chris Paul, the great NBA basketball player, I’ve tried my best to learn English well since middle school. No matter spoken English or written English, I knew it’s a unique way for me to communicate with him . . . so I should learn English well. Therefore, I am very grateful for his spiritual encouragement although he doesn’t know me. In brief, the reason I could be admitted to SHNU was because of Chris Paul!”
Tom quoted John Ruskin, “Living without an aim is like sailing without a compass.”
“Goals determine what you are going to be,” said Roxanne quoting Julius Erving.
Henry quoted Scarlett, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Max shared, “All men’s gains are the fruit of venturing” – Herodotus, Greek historian
She also quoted Muhammad Ali, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
Frank noted, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted” – John Lennon.
In an essay, July shared something that might be considered negative about his family, which is rarely ever done in China – at least not in my experience of being a teacher for a few hundred Chinese university students. Unlike many of us Americans who seem eager to carry on about our dysfunctional families or how hard we have had to work on our own to be our great independent selves, Chinese students often express gratitude for their families and their feelings of responsibility toward their much loved parents. Even in his essay about his “Chinese Tiger Mom,” July in the end expresses gratitude.
July wrote, “When I was two, my mother decided I should play piano. My mother made me practice three hours every day . . . sometimes four or five hours. I didn’t like the black and white thing. I wanted to play games and be with my friends. . . . If I refused or didn’t play well, she would hit my hand. So I was afraid of her and I hated her sometimes in my early life . . . My life from 2 to 14 was black. . . . Finally, music suddenly became my favorite thing. . . . I now can teach children and perform for money. I love piano, singing, and music. . . At last, I can’t say a [bad] word about my mother.”
As you may understand from this quick glimpse, I really enjoy teaching and learning from my SHNU students. My contribution is a Chinese proverb, “He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything.”
I’ll end this selection with words from Claire and Abraham Lincoln. Claire advises, “If you exert yourself now, you will have fewer regrets later.” Claire too failed her first college entrance exam because she had “idled away precious time,” but she is now one of the best students. Claire learned, “The past can’t be changed, but it can be fixed.” She quotes Abraham Lincoln: “I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.”
Hope you are all moving forward.
Zaì jiàn, Renée