Back from China
I have been back from China for a week, and only now getting my head above water. The trip, which consisted of giving talks at various universities and meeting with students and faculty, was very exciting. The Chinese are pouring money into higher education at the same time as cutbacks are the order of the day here in the benighted USA.
The students are very impressive, although some of the faculty tend to restrict the more creative urges of some of the students.
I asked some of the younger professors about their backgrounds. The first two I questioned told me that they came from poor peasant families in relatively impoverished parts of the country. Both also told me that they were the only ones from their high schools to get a college education.
Nonetheless, college seems more accessible in China than in the United States, even before the recent round of lethal educational cutbacks.
If the outcome of the jingoistic rivalry between China and the United States will depend on education, I have no doubt which country will come out ahead.
I also attended a conference at Sanya University on the tropical island of Hainan — a major military center where the U.S. Navy was recently confronting China. I was unable to understand the specifics, but the Ji Li Group — the largest automobile producer in China — operates the university.
It was not as plush as the other universities I visited. Most of the majors seem to revolve around tourism and recreation. The students were enthusiastic but they expressed lower aspirations than the students elsewhere, such as tour guide or translator.
Apparently, the school was also more expensive than the others, perhaps reflecting the entrepreneurial perspective of Ji Li. However, few of the majors seem to have much relevance to the production and distribution of automobiles.