Thursday, April 29

abundance and motivation

We have a pretty big apartment. Not big compared to most of the places our friends live, but plenty big for us. The other day, Colin said "when we have a baby, do you think we'll have to move out of this apartment?" He loves the outdoor space that we have. He spends a little bit of his morning out there every day. We eat out there sometimes, I have a bunch of potted plants out there that Colin keeps alive when I forget to water them, and we hope to still get a little garden in before it gets too late in the season.

Today, I saw this article with this picture of a seven square foot space a single working girl rents in Beijing. Unbelievable! It looks kinda cozy, but mostly sad with its one tiny window and no space for anything but a narrow bed. The saddest parts though would be no kitchen (I think they have a shared one in the hall though) and that they have to use the public bathrooms on the street. I have seen and smelled such bathrooms while walking the streets of China, and they are nasty.

I wonder if she has any closet space. One of my Chinese students once told me that he wore one set of clothes all week and then went home on the weekends to change. His mother would wash his clothes for him and he'd switch out clothes again the next weekend. Our Chinese students were sometimes baffled that their foreign teachers had so many clothes.

This girl who lives in the seven square foot pod has moved there from an apartment she shared with a roommate so that she can send more money home to her parents in the country. Would that even cross the mind of a recent college grad in America? Maybe it would for some. It makes me think about an update I got from a friend who's still teaching where I did in China. She says the freshman class this year has the most discipline problems she's ever seen and she's at a loss to know how to motivate them. That was the thing about teaching in China - I could count on most of my students to be super diligent. They made the most of their time in university. But the new students have a new reputation. They haven't known economic hardship and they don't seem to care about learning much. As Colin said when I relayed that story to him, "Maybe China won't take over the world after all if those are the students that are in university now."

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