The primary school system here is so out of whack, yet I continue to try to make a difference anyway. I mean, I know I am no hero, but if I can at least encourage a few young minds to think for themselves, then I can be happy that I made a difference. The students that the Chinese english teachers think are the most successful are some of the worst, in my mind. They memorize extremely well, they only repeat what they have been told, and they rarely have the kind of bright, inquisitive nature that heralds great intelligence. But on top of all of the shortcomings of the school system are the teachers themselves, some of them determined to repeat the mistakes that they have been taught so well.
The problem also lies in the way teachers are rewarded for their work at the school. Each one gets a base salary, which works out to a pretty good above average wage in China. At the end of the month (and at some private schools, the year), they are given bonus salary. This amount starts at the same level for all teachers, with an amount deducted every time there is some infraction worthy of the headmaster's dismay. The headmaster for our school, an energetic and animated 55 year old woman, stalks the hallways during classes, looking in to see that the teachers are following her guidelines. The teachers teach in fear of her wrath.
A Donkey's Fate in China
This story was told to me by my fiancee (nee girlfriend) a little while ago, as we spoke with others about cruelties purported on animals for sadistic, ridiculous and superfluous reasons. I am only recalling what I remember here, but the story really became embedded in my memory, as you will soon see why.
The Chinese have many traditional medecines to cure many different things, and one such elixir is called "e jiao ", pronounced "ee-jai-oh". It is used for the treatment of ailments related to the female womb, and for the promotion of better blood circulation. It is greatly prized for its effectiveness. It is procured from the skin of donkeys, but the skin can't just be taken from a dead donkey, as the medicine apparently has no effectiveness at all then. No, the skin must be taken from a LIVE donkey, as only then is it effective for use. Now comes the cruel part - if you are at all sensitive about animal horror stories, please skip this description. Frankly, I find it quite nightmarish.
First, a large pit is dug into the earth. The "hole", later to become an enclosure for the trapped beast of burden, is made so that the donkey can walk downwards into it, and then be trapped. It ends up being a sort of grave with a ramp, so that when the animal is later tortured, it cannot move out of the enclosure, or jump out, or move much at all. The hole thus dug, the poor donkey is coaxed into his hellish grave, and I think the rear of the below-ground prison is also sectioned off so that no backward movement can be made to escape. Now the ass is trapped, with his head just above ground, and he cannot move an inch.
First, the donkey's back and sides are beaten on with large sticks. An ass can take a lot of abuse, and it's skin is tough and leathery. Nevertheless, the blows are heavy, even and steady, as the beaters are careful not to tear the skin in any way, which would ruin the medecine. After the animal is "softened up" so that it is reduced to a wimpering pulp, the sticks are put away and the next step commences immediately. The donkey remains concious still, trapped in it's earthen prison, and the torturers are careful not to seriously maim or kill the beast. Well, not yet . . . Huge pots of boiling hot water are prepared, and then without further ceremony poured onto the rough, thick skin of the donkey. The searing hot flash of pain would probably kill a human, with our thin and relatively soft flesh, but the donkey has a tough hide, so it doesn't succumb. It just brays and screams, frothing at the mouth, unable to escape its horrific nightmare. Then, in quick fashion, several men in essence "scalp" it by cutting around ears, sides and back, and then peeling it off. The scalding hot water prepares the hide well for this stage, and with some care the men can easily remove the skin from the tortured animal. At this point, it is still alive, but what happens afterward is unclear to me, as YJ only told me what she herself knows of the process having never actually witnessed it (thank goodness for that!). I like to think that the animal dies quickly then.
Uh . . . oh yeah, looks like I will get married to Yijie in China, probably in the late summer. I'll have some kind of ceremony in Canada when we finally get her there. We are both very happy together, and she has prepared herself to start a new life in Canada (and Toronto) with me. For me, it will be a big change - for her, it's a double dose of big changes . . .
Other Other News
Been real busy, with little time to relax, sit back and write a decent missive to you all. Sorry. But I am in Beijing now on vacation, and I will write up some nice stuff soon . . .
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