Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hope for College

At the end of my first year of high school in 1977, country’s political situation changed dramatically, especially for us high school students. We didn’t have to go to the countryside to learn from the farmers anymore. Instead, we could take the national entry exam to go to college, even to a famous one. For us, we had one more year both to finish high school and to prepare for the entry exam. My cousin Guan, Zhongwei was already on a farm and had to work extra hard after each day of work to review the five subjects that he learned in high school a few years earlier. Amazingly, my cousin passed the national entry exam and was accepted by the Chengdu University of Science and Technology’s physics department. He was one of less than 1% of high school graduates who passed the entrance exam for four-year colleges since the Cultural Revolution in 1962. I asked him how he did it. He said, “simple, there are two lives in front of me. I am either a farmer with grass-made sandals working in the field all my life or a professor somewhere with a suit, tie, and leather shoes, writing on a blackboard in the near future.”  Now he is teaching in University of Liverpool.          
     Everyone in school realized the opportunities before them. Everyone studied hard. For the first time, I realized that my college dream could actually come true. I kept telling myself that if my cousin could do it, so could I. I was in a better position to prepare for the exams; I was still in school. From then on, the only thing in my mind was to study. For the first time in my life, I was the center of my family. Now, everything was happened around me for my study preparations. My parents like everyone else, worked extra hard around the house so that I didn’t have to do anything but study. Even my bedridden grandmother tried to help me by peeling apples or oranges and feeding me while I studied at a table beside her bed. She also used a paper fan to cool me and get rid of the mosquitoes. She joked that she might not see me in college. I assured her that she would.
        Very soon, the sixteen classes in our grade re-divided according to exam scores. There were fast, middle, and slow classes. Each class had a different goal. The majority of the fast class was preparing to pass the national entry exam. The middle class was preparing to pass the national entry exam and to graduate from high school. The slow class was just preparing to finish high school. I was in the fast class with my best girlfriend Wei-lin. We competed with each other on exams. We had tests almost everyday, with a big test every week. We had more than eight hours of classes each day including night and weekend classes.


Favorite Movies in high school.
Awaara (1951 Indian film 流浪者) was about a judge who believes that "good people are born to good people, and criminals are born to criminals." He did not trust his own wife after hearing some rumors and kicked out his wife and unborn son from his house. His wife raised their son on the street till one day he robbed his own father's house and got arrested. 


Proof of the Man (1977 Japanese film 人证/人間の証明) was a young half-black man, who lost his father, and was from New York and took a flight to Japan to look for his mother. He is found fatally stabbed in a elevator in a Tokyo hotel at the same time as a fashion show by designer Kyōko Yasugi is being held. The only clue is the dying man's last words "straw hat". The evidence eventually confronts Kyōko that the black man was her son, and she killed him to protect her reputation. It was a dark secret that Kyōko was a prostitute in the years after the war. She failed to convince her son to go back to New York, so she stabbed him a little, hoping that he would get the message, but her son was so despaired that he pushed the knife all the way to his heart. His mother was horrified and ran away. Kyōko commits suicide by jumping off a cliff.