this month’s edition of national geographic is focussed on china. one of the best articles i’ve read in natgeo for a long time is available on line and deserves a read. entitled “gilded age, gilded cage” it describes in detail the life of a girl facing many of the same pressures that girls of similar age in north america and europe are experiencing. if that rocks your world-view then you need to read on because china has changed dramatically and fast and dated misconceptions about that country need to be shelved, shredded, tossed in the rubbish.
the focus of the article is fifteen year-old zhou jiaying or as she is now known - “bella”. in the course of the article, she reveals all the social, academic, and familial pressures of her life in an all-too-familiar tale in which the past and the future collide in the present of her unfolding life. at the close of the article bella writes: “I sit in my middle-class classroom, and the teacher wants us to say goodbye to childhood. I feel at a loss. Happiness is like the twinkling stars suffusing the night sky of childhood. I want only more and more stars. I don’t want to see the dawn.”
here then is the story of a fifteen year-old chinese
middle-class girl in 2008.
the author of this article, leslie t. chang lived in china for a decade. her book factory girls will be coming out in october of 2008.
while you’re here, you might also be interested in seeing time magazine’s short photo essay on beijing’s . . .transformation.
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