Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Education is everything?


Yesterday I met a Shanghainese girl who’d re-located to Suzhou with her husband because of work. Now, the distance between Shanghai and Suzhou isn't huge, and with a 45 min train ride you can get to ‘the other side’ without too much drama (the biggest drama might be buying the tickets). Still, the girl told me that she wasn’t so happy in Suzhou and that she constantly missed her family ‘back home.’

-Your family? But I thought your husband moved with you?
I asked. 

-He did. But my son didn’t. He’s just a child, so he's still living in Shanghai with my parents.

-But… like, why didn’t he move with you? Is it because your working so much over here that 
you don’t have time to look after him?

-Well yes… I am working a lot over here. But also, the school and education options are much better in Shanghai than Suzhou. So we figured we better leave him there. But I miss him so much!

-Is it just temporary?

-No, probably not. We are looking into buying a property here in Suzhou soon…


Wow. Now that’s when you realize just how important it is to have your kid in the ‘right’ school over here. Not that I didn't already knew. But sometimes you forget just HOW important it is to people. 

13 comments:

kanmuri said...

It is obsessive. They have the same kind of issues here in Japan. Dad goes away to work alone and mommy stays home with the kids so they can attend the best school. They sometimes only see each other for the New Year holidays and in August. Apparently, that's their definition of caring for your family...

Bekah said...

I hear ya! I live in Los Angeles and there are suburbs of LA and Orange County that are full of Asian parents who will pay more money for an older, smaller and more run-down house because it is in a good school district. Also, I've known a few women who had children here in the US and would then send their infants back to China to be raise by their grandparents...knowing they might not see their babies for months at a time! I guess both options are strong cultural traits that are hard to give up.

Ed, The American Sock said...

I also had that realization when my wife's neice said she was living in a dorm while going to senior school and her parents only live about a half hour from the big city. She said it's the best senior school in the province so she was very fortunate to be there. Realy makes you stop and think about the value of education there and what they'll give up for it.

Brad F. said...

That's a pretty extreme case. That part of China's culture has bled over into Singapore's culture as well.

They put a LOT of emphasis on education here, including what school you went to, and what additional certificates or diplomas you have. Everyone wants you to present diplomas and be certified in everything. There's even a certification for "hospitality" here. I didn't know it took a school to teach someone how to be polite.

While education is important, I think this kind of mentality causes people to lose focus. There's a lot of value in real work experience as well. Not to mention natural talent.

Kate said...

That makes me sad. I didn't send my kids to boarding school because I figured that I had the right to raise my own children. They are with you for such a short part of their lives, and yours! I want to enjoy every moment I can with my kids before it is too late!

Education is not everything. A mother's love and a father's guidance cannot be eliminated without everlasting damage to the child!

Again, education is not everything.

Anonymous said...

It's not only 'over here'. Don't you see how many expats leave their kids/spouses/pets back home? And after all like you said Suzhou and Shanghai are only 45min train ride away!

Blank-Socrate said...

I don't agree with her, the education very important but it doesn't worth to lose a family ...

Anonymous said...

Well, what school one goes to is extremely important as if it's a good school it can help you get into another good high school/university and so on. Sometimes the schools can pick a student from a "better" school even though the student has worse grades than another student from a "lower" school...

Pete In Syracuse said...

Education is important but, I would sure check what the atmosphere & outside influences are before I would entrust my children to some one else. The other thing that rubs me the wrong way about education over location is that the same things that happen during a childs growth that are only experienced by the the caregiver (Mom & Dad) is lost if the child live some where else. Those are memories that belong to the parents.....Like say It's first words, Taking It's first steps etc. etc.... When you are old & all you have left are your memories, which ones are the important ones? Kanmuri is right it is an "obsession"

Sara said...

Well, many Chinese parents leave their kids to be brought up by the grandparents. It's a cultural thing that dates back a long time in Chinese history. Nowadays when people move from the countryside to the big cities to work, many children only see their hardworking parents at Chinese New Year. I live in Sweden now, and even here many Chinese people bring their parents over when they have kids, so that the elderly can take care of the kids.

Nino said...

A society like this will create sociopaths and emotional wrecks. How about the kids need of love and bonds with its parents? What a sad story and her replies were so unemotional. Incredible.

Jonna Wibelius said...

kanmuri -different lifestyles, different culture... I am curious, since u r married to a Japanese man, does he want you to have a similar 'family life' or does he prefer the 'both the man and the woman work' model?

Bekah -yeah I am not saying it is wrong because who am I to tell. It's just so very different to where I am from.

Ed & Brad F -yeah it sure makes u think.. when I graduated from uni I did an internship at a big magazine in Australia and during those 3 months I learned more than during my 3 years at uni... That made me thing that education sometimes is overrated. There's just so much u can learn from lectures, exams and assignments. The rest you learn in real life.

Kate -I agree with you!

anonymous -yeah it is just 45 min away but they are still living apart.. only seeing each other during those wknds when the parents don't have to work. F course most parents work during the daytime but I feel during nighttime it is nice to share some family time together.

Black-socrate & nino -I also value family higher than education.

Ira said...

To some family, education means a lot and parents are willing to go extra miles to give their children the best education opportunity. In Singapore, children can only attend primary school in the neighborhood of their residence. So you can imagine the estate price near those "prestigious schools" is very high. Recently my friends bought an expensive condominium just to ensure their children can go to the nearly prestigious primary school, even though repaying the mortgage is quite stressful for them.