Readers of this page will know that we were out for the evening last Saturday with a group of young married couples, ages 24-30. All of them have either started families or are keen to do so. At one point, one of the women pointed at one of them and said that she was the youngest. She spoke the least English but replied in Chinese,, “Yes, but I have a baby.” It was a bit of a shot that clearly indicates a certain status decreed to those who have children. We also discovered how it is that some people can have more than one child: if you are an only child and your spouse is an only child, you are allowed to have two children. Some of those women are choosing to have the second child take the mother’s surname, thereby allowing both of the family lines to carry on. Most of the women return to work after childbirth and grandparents, especially grandmothers, step in to help raise them. We see elderly folks with small babies and older children everywhere around Jiaxing.
Attitudes towards women among our students appear easy to decipher. One day in class, the teacher mentioned that males are nurses in Canada. The loudest and most self-assured boy guffawed, “Nursing is a woman’s job.” Even when the teacher explained that nursing is a very good career for both sexes, well paid and respected, this young man refused to accept it. No one else of either sex spoke up to question why a person’s gender should have anything to do with career choice, a comment, I think, on their lack of worldliness. I will pick my time but down the road I will let this young man know that he would be lucky to get out of most Canadian high school classes alive after uttering such a sexist comment! I plan to speak with the girls privately to encourage them in career choices but also to stand up and be counted.
On our Sunday walk, we stopped to marvel once again at an abandoned lot given over to people gardening. Take a look at the attached photo and realize that this was taken yesterday, Nov. 18th. Can you imagine a crop this healthy and green growing in the lower mainland right now? It helps to know that we are closer to Los Angeles in latitude than Vancouver. Unless inside a heated greenhouse, it wouldn’t be possible at home. These “gardeners” are growing vegetables not only for themselves but also as cash crops. There are many places where they can easily sell their produce and the Chinese are very keen on freshness, so no doubt they benefit doubly from their efforts.
Speaking of fresh, it is orange season in Jiaxing! They are magnificent! Oranges are my favorite fruit and I live for their season to arrive, in January or February back home. These ones are huge and juicy, so fresh they still have leaves attached. Tangerines are also available everywhere and are such a bright orange, they are hard to resist. And me with 5 pomelos still to eat! No matter, I love oranges and no time can be wasted! Apples are also fabulous right now. The Galas are so huge and juicy, simply incredible. Needless to say, I am eating a lot of fruit!
Working late tonight doing an English self-study block with kids who need help, so will be heading home just after 7:00pm. The students have to carry on till 9:40! By that time we will be safe and snug and ready for sleep. By the way, all the people we were with on Saturday night commented on how early we head to work. No kidding! Is there any need to start at 7:30? Well, yes there is but it still seems cruel and unusual punishment to a formerly retired couple. Take care, everyone.