This week, the topic for our Sophomore English class was Money. The discussion question at the beginning of class was, “If you had to choose between money and love, which would you choose and why?” A lot of students said money. One student said she would choose money because “Love is unreliable.” I talked to her later, and she said that this past summer, she and her boyfriend had broken up. Another student said, right now, money is more important and once she has money, then she’ll worry about finding love.
In another activity during class, students had to work with their partner to finish filling in the sentence (grammar exercise). This was the prompt, “1) If I’d been born a member of the opposite sex, then I . . . . One girl answered, “If I’d been born a member of the opposite sex, then I wouldn’t have a little sister.” Another student sitting close to her nodded her head and said, “yeah, me too.” Other students completed a sentence about their study as follows: “If I’d listened to my parents advice when I was younger, I would study at a better University now.” Although our students seem to accept their major and lot in life, they also quite openly express regret. They are the hope of their parents who have probably sacrificed a lot for them to study at the University, and most of the students are only studying at this University as a back-up because they didn’t get into their top choices.
At the end of class, students were in small groups to discuss different questions related to money and life. One of the last questions was, “What brings true happiness and fulfillment to your life.” Some students, of course, answered, “Having lots of money.” Others answered with answers such as friendship, family, success, achieving one’s dreams, etc. And others answered that their hobbies, such as playing basketball, reading novels, watching movies, always brings them happiness.
Tomorrow, is the 60th Anniversary of China, as I try to forget about teaching, the students answers from this past week still haunt me.