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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 13 July 5, 1939

Student Spirit in China

Student Spirit in China

A general effect of the war has been to force the Universities to move inland away from the war zone, so that the students may continue their studies. The Chinese Government, fully expecting to win the war, hopes that, when they again enjoy peace in China, Unnecessary leadership for the reconstruction of the new China will be found among University students.

Interesting educational developments in China just now are four cultural centres at Chungkiang, Chengtu, Yenan and Shanghai respectively. The first three are distant about 1,500 miles from Shanghai, which distance most of the students have had in walk.

Of the four educational developments mentioned, perhaps that at Yenan is the most interesting. Yenan is the headquarters of the Eighth Route Army, and to Yenan are marching young men and women from every province in China. Yenan is in North Shenai, 300 miles from Sian, and is reached in three days by car over one of the worst roads in the world. All along the road, nine stages by foot from Sian, go the processions of students, trudging along, carrying a heavy load of bedding and personal possessions.

The Sian office was, at one time, receiving 700 students a week, giving them 30 cents a day for food, and starting them off on this arduous "first lesson" of the University course.

Many have tragic stories to tell, of homes destroyed, and relations killed; some cannot study because family business has been ruined, or the family lands ravaged by the war; some are too restless to go on studying, or can find no school to enter.

However, China, with her veneration for learning, her great need of technical experts for the future, and her unlimited man-power, cannot afford to lose her student class. Several of the Central China provinces have schemes for setting young people to do work of importance, and the Generalissimo has formed a youth corps, in which young educated men are called to enlist.

Life at the Universities is very primitive. At the North Shensi Academy, the students live is caves which they have dug themselves out of the hillside. In bad weather, moving about the "campus" along muddy, slippery paths is decidedly unpleasant. There are no chairs of tables: the students eat out of doors, squatting on the ground about two mess tins, one containing millet, and the other vegetables. For lectures, they each carry a small square of wood, on which they sit, taking their notes as best they can. They wash and bathe in the river, going down in squads at dawn and sunset.

Discipline is maintained by groups, each group of ten being responsible to a group leader, who takes roll-call, checks attendance at lectures, presides over discussions, [unclear: and] holds meetings of criticism and censure on any delinquent member.

Three-eighth of the students are girls, dressed like the men, and living under exactly the same conditions.

The course lasts only three months, and at present the number of subjects studied is few. The textbooks are lithographed locally, and there is no other equipment except a number of books, pamphlets and magazines in the library. Plenty of time is allowed for reading and discussion, but there is no practical work. Over seven thousand have already taken the course.

Much more could be said, but there is sufficient to show that the Chinese students are proving their ability to rise above adverse circumstances and to carry on a University under conditions which would probably daunt the average student—an object-lesson to the "civilised" West!


M.A.C., in a Radio Debate on Friday last, tried to persuade A.U.C. "That science has done more for mankind than literature." The judge Mr. W. P. Rollings, thought that they succeeded and placed the order of speakers—(1) A. A. Dunlop (M.A.C.). (2) Miss D. Fowler (A.U.C.), (3) A. I. Guild (M.A.C.).