Opinion / 首页Blog

What my Chinese students loved about America

By MichaelM (blog.chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2014-09-03 15:55

My focus and primary concern while living here in China is education. Having owned a private school in the US for 15 years, I am now realizing how different western and eastern ideas are about educating children. I always try to be fair in my assessment of what I see and experience. However, some things (at least to me) just make good common sense.

The high school that I graduated from in my small town in Texas is still in the same building today that it was when I attended there 38 years ago. When I visited there this past summer, I couldn't help but notice how clean and new it all looked. Not much different than when I was there in the late 1970s. In fact, in some ways it looked even better.

Several of my students here in Zhengzhou at the No. 19 Middle School (I teach some classes in their International High School) got to go to the U.S. this summer on a trip organized by the school. This past week when I asked them what they liked most about America, their answer was unanimous. They all said, "Things are kept so clean in America."

Some of this 'cleanness' relates to the air that you breathe there. But more of it is seen in the landscape, buildings, homes, streets and so forth.

Something I've heard often and has always astonished me here in China is that when a building gets 20 years old, I've heard many, many Chinese tell me how 'old' the building is. We don't consider a building 'old' in the USA unless it 50-60 or more years old. In fact, in my hometown, the Federal Courthouse building is likely the oldest building in the city. It is 107 years old. It is also one of the most beautiful and well-preserved buildings in the city. 

I'm impressed with construction in China. Most of China's buildings are made of poured-in-place concrete or concrete block. These buildings should last at least 75-80 years. But even these buildings are considered 'old' at just 20 years.

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