Miao Weifang, a 41-year-old farmer’s son from a remote village in Hebei, became the very first resident of his village to attain an advanced degree in 2008 when he graduated with a Master’s Degree in Modern Chinese History from Hebei University. However, after a series of humiliating setbacks and unable to find work anywhere else, Miao was forced back to his village, a move which shamed his father into attempting suicide.
Ministry of Tofu has the story:
But the doors to the civil service, whose entrance examination imposes an upper age limit of 35, are effectively closed to 40-year-old Miao by then. So he focused on state-run institutions. He tried quite a number of them, but always came back from interviews with disappointment. He once applied to a teaching position at a junior high school in Baoding and passed several rounds of interviews before he got eliminated at the final round. He believed the recruiting process is not fair.
In July, another middle school contacted him and offered him a teaching position that pays 2,500 yuan per month (US$400), but Miao insisted on getting 2,800 yuan a month. The school, unhappy with Miao’s haggle, refused his request.
After the series of setbacks in his job hunting, Miao returned to where he belonged – the farm – and started farming. Speaking of his choice, Miao said, “Do you call this escape, flinch, or a choice of compromise? Maybe it is a combination of all.”
Many villagers talked of Miao in tones of disbelief, “So many years of wasted education. What he learned has nothing to do with farming.” Miao’s parents also struggled to come to terms with having funded his education only to have him return to be a farmer.
Miao’s father, deeply depressed, attempted to kill himself by overdosing on sleeping pills. Luckily his wife discovered him lying unconscious and rushed him to the hospital before the overdose proved fatal.
The story of Miao’s failed education has resonated deeply with China’s new social class, Diao Si, or “young unprivileged losers”. We often hear news media talk about the widening gap between the haves and have-nots in China, but it would be so disheartening to Chinese youth if the only problem were the unequal distribution of wealth. Rather, it is the solidification of social classes and their hereditary nature that have shattered so many ‘Chinese dreams’.
[Via: Ministry of Tofu]
Join Shanghaiist for the Hairy Crab & Sex Museum Tour on Nov 3-4! Click below image to find out more: