an excerpt from river town by peter hessler. read this book last year and stumbled across it whilst packing.
“it was hard for me to imagine a better job. my students were eager and respectful, and they were bright. the college was not prestigious, but in china less than 2 percent of the population attend any schooling beyond high school, which meant that even fuling’s students were a very select group. in fact i was glad to be at a lower-level school, because there was an unpolished quality to the students that i had never seen before. everywhere else i had been, education rounded off the edges much earlier – in america, even high school students were cagey, cynical, suspicious. education was a game and students played it, but in fuling they hadn’t yet reached that point. their intelligence was still raw – it smelled of the countryside, of sweat and much, of night soil and ripening rapeseed and everything else that compose the sichuanese farmland. and in their thoughts were flashes of the land, glimpses of the same sort of hard beauty that surrounded the teachers college, where the campus ended in terraced fields that ran steep up the side of raise the flag mountain.”