- 2012elections - 9/11 Special Coverage - aca - africanamericanalzheimers - aids - Alabama News Network - american - Awards & Expo - bees - bilingual - border - californiaeducation - Caribbean - cir - citizenship - climatechange - collgeinmiami - community - democrats - ecotourism - Elders - Election 2012 - elections2012 - escuelas - Ethnic Media in the News - Ethnicities - Events - Eye on Egypt - Fellowships - food - Foreclosures - Growing Up Poor in the Bay Area - Health Care Reform - healthyhungerfreekids - howtodie - humiliating - immigrants - Inside the Shadow Economy - kimjongun - Latin America - Law & Justice - Living - Media - memphismediaroundtable - Multimedia - NAM en Espaol - Politics & Governance - Religion - Richmond Pulse - Science & Technology - Sports - The Movement to Expand Health Care Access - Video - Voter Suppression - War & Conflict - 攔截盤查政策 - Top Stories - Immigration - Health - Economy - Education - Environment - Ethnic Media Headlines - International Affairs - NAM en Español - Occupy Protests - Youth Culture - Collaborative Reporting

Chinese Youth Laments Lost Past

Portraits of Young People in a Changing China

New America Media, Personal voice/Photo essay, Mao Ce - as told to Rian Dundon Posted: Sep 19, 2008

Editor's Note: As the glamour of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing fades, NAM takes a post-Olympic look at the country and the real lives of people there. Photographer Rian Dundon captured images and crafted intimate portraits of the lives of young Chinese men and women in a changing society. In the fourth in a series, Dundon profiles 24-year-old Mao Ce.

In a country obsessed with education and personal advancement, Mao Ce dropped out of high school after his sophomore year. Now 24, he lives with his father and 90-year-old grandfather in the same neighborhood where he grew up. His mother lives a few buildings over, having divorced Mao Ce's father years ago. Unemployed, but moonlighting as a DJ, Mao Ce resents that his family has separated, and he feels helpless amid China's no-holds-barred development. The growth of urban China and subsequent rise of the middle class has proved fertile ground for disaffected youth like Mao Ce, whose apathy reflects the sentiment of many of his peers.

CHANGSA CITY, China I was born on Feb. 1, 1984, New Year's Eve of that year according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This day has real meaning in China: it is the most important day of the year. I hope it means I will be lucky for being born on that day, but who knows. My grandfather and father still remember all the dates of the old calendar, but not me. Our schools never taught us those things because they think it's no longer useful to know all the old things. People just think that in the future we will be modern like the United States, so they don't care what history we lose today. We've already lost a lot, so people don't care about losing a little more. The only good thing is that in China we have a lot of people, so there will always be someone who remembers even when the others forget. For me, I only have to remember a few old holidays like Mid-Autumn Day and Spring Festival and that's enough.

I didn't graduate from high school because I quit during my second year. Before that, I never went to class or even knew my teachers' names. I was never a good student. Instead, I spent a lot of time on the streets with friends drinking beer and making good memories. My parents never cared because they were too busy with work. For them, work was always more important than me. So instead of going to school I'd go to the Internet bar, drink beer and make friends. My classrooms were the streets and my teachers were my friends, and that is how I got my education. It taught me respect and honesty, and to never lie or be lied to. It taught me that if someone hits you, you hit back.

I never think about my future. I have no plans for it and I don't want a plan. My life is like the wind, blowing quickly and changing direction often. Sometimes it's powerful, sometimes comfortable, but it never stops blowing. I think everything we do now is a result of something we did in the past, so I can't say what I will do or be in the future. I don't know about others but that's how I am. I never have wishes or dreams. Sometimes, I hope my family can come back together or be friendly to each other again, but that's it. When I was young I had dreams, but not anymore. Maybe now I am more honest.

You know, this is the People's Republic of China, but we are not a republic. A republic is where somebody doesn't need to pay for food if they are hungry. Where we treat each other like brothers even if we aren't from the same family. Where we respect each other. Right now, people are not like that. They just care about themselves, just want to make more money. Most people only think about their own life, their own stuff, their Adidas, their Nikes. Our government is the same way. Now they cannot accept an old building next to a new one, so instead they make everything disappear and build new shit on top so China looks like a modern country. But why? I think old is cool. We have a 5,000-year history and you want to make it disappear? That's stupid! At least you have to keep 1,000 years. The country wants to be stronger and, I mean, I agree with the need for a modern life, but we need to keep some things so our children will know what came before.

Nowadays, young Chinese can't communicate with their parents because they each come from two different Chinas, two different worlds. People my age are from New China while our parents and grandparents are from Old China. They are so cautious, so slow. They think about one decision ten times before they make a choice because they don't have the courage to face a big challenge. They don't understand how we think and we cannot accept what they do. I think all this began when China opened its doors to The West and welcomed new information. Not to say it is the fault of western influence, only that China had no choice but to change. Sometimes you can't choose your history; it chooses you.

Right now China is like a running man moving too fast. The problem is if you run too fast your body can't handle it for long. China wants to be number one so badly it wants to run ahead and let everyone know it is the fastest and will be the best in the world. But you know what people in the United States think about that? They don't care! When you are No. 1 you don't think about No. 2. It will be at least 50 years before we can catch up with the United States, but if China keeps running I think we can be like Japan in 20 years.

Related Articles:

Transgender Dancer's Hard Road to Love

The Duty of a Farmer's Daughter

Portraits of Young People in a Changing China

Page 1 of 1




Just Posted

NAM Coverage


One Writer's Education

Aug 27, 2010