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The Story of “China’s PhD Village”: A Small Village with 41 Doctors

A small place by the name of Baisha Town West Village, located in Guangdong’s Taishan city, is now jokingly called a hot site for house buyers by Chinese netizens. The village, that has produced 41 academics with PhD degrees and a Hollywood filmmaker, is now known as a fruitful breeding ground for talent.

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A small place by the name of Baisha Town West Village, located in Guangdong’s Taishan city, is now jokingly called a hot site for house buyers by Chinese netizens. The village, that has produced 41 academics with PhD degrees and a Hollywood filmmaker, is now known as a fruitful breeding ground for talent.

Baisha Town West Village (白沙镇西村), a small village in the South of China, has produced an extraordinarily high number of inhabitants with a Ph.D. degree. Its story recently has become a popular topic on Chinese social media, after it was featured by the Guangzhou Daily and was forwarded by dozens of other Chinese media.

The village’s Ph.D. success once started 80 years ago, when the former headmaster of the local village primary school decided to study abroad; he wanted to contribute to his hometown through his studies. Dr. Huang Junjie was to become the first Ph.D. degree holder of the town. He became a role model for the village’s later generations.

Since then the number of Ph.D. holders soon increased. Now, some families even have three doctors within one generation.

The journey of pursuing a Ph.D. was full of hardship for Huang. The Guangzhou Daily conducted an interview with Huang Junjie’s grandson, Huang Zai, who now also works in the education sector. Sharing his grandfather’s story, he said that Huang, receiving no financial support from family, had to work while studying at Columbia University in New York.

After four years of hard work, he acquired a Ph.D. in Law, and then immediately returned to China. He later even became a professor and one of the three most famous lawyers in Guangzhou.

Another celebrity whom the villagers are proud of is James Wong Howe. He was a renowned Chinese-American cinematographer who worked on over 130 films in Hollywood. He was born and raised in this village and later moved to America with his father.

Chinese American Oscar winning cinematographer James Wong Howe.

When Guangzhou Daily asked Huang Zai why he thinks Baisha Town West Village has become such a breeding ground for talent, he answered the village has a long tradition of promoting education: “There is an ancient saying that has been passed on from generation to generation in the village, ‘Even if the only rice we have can fit in a pen container, we will still make sure our children can study'(“笔筒装米, 也要教子读书”). In other words, we encourage education and persuade people to never give up on it no matter the situation.”

Huang Zai recalled his own experiences; his entire family advised him to take the National College Entrance Exam after the Cultural Revolution and to continue studying, even after failing the exam the first time. “Without their support and the social ethos in the village, I would have never achieved what I have right now.”

Another factor Huang Zai thinks contributed to the village’s successful inhabitants is that many of them came from overseas. While doing labor in foreign countries, they saw their education and recognized its importance. These overseas villagers contributed to the local education by starting their own private school by the end of the Qing Dynasty, donating their own ancestral halls and turning them into local primary schools where students were required to learn about morals and values, and were taught English.

Those who later studied and acquired their PhDs degrees never forgot about their roots, frequently donating money for the construction of schools, and holding lectures in their homeland.

Now, the government plans to help make the village more of a tourist destination, to introduce its story to the world. Many of the villagers are happy and honored that their town is now known as the “Ph.D. village,” as it was something they actively pursued.

The village of Yangtian in Liuyang City, Hunan province, is also famous for its 21 Ph.D. holders and hundreds of inhabitants with MA degrees. In Gu Yuantou, in Zhejiang’s Dong Yang City, the villagers are proud of their 25 Ph.D. holders and 553 university students out – their town only has 2200 inhabitants.

The majority of Weibo users praise the villagers’ determination to educate their children. There are also some netizens who say there must be a lot of pressure on those young villagers who do not pursue an academic degree.

Others jokingly say they are going to buy a house and move to Baisha for the village’s “good Feng Shui.”

– By Yue Xin
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©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Yue Xin is a bilingual freelance journalist currently based in the Netherlands with a focus on gender issues and literature in China. As a long-time frequent Weibo user, she is specialized in the buzzwords and hot topics on Chinese social media.

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    商務中心

    March 5, 2018 at 2:03 am

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China Insight

Exchange Student to Be Deported from China for Harassing Young Woman at University

An exchange student studying at the Hebei University of Engineering has been expelled and will soon be deported after harassing a female student.

Manya Koetse

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An exchange student from Pakistan who was studying at the Hebei University of Engineering (河北工程大学) has been expelled and detained after harassing a female student at the same university.

The incident, that is attracting much attention on Chinese social media this week, adds to the wave of recent controversies over the behavior and status of overseas students in mainland China.

On July 31, a female student at the Hebei university filed a police report against a Pakistani student who allegedly harassed her and attempted to forcefully kiss her and touch her breasts.

Screenshots of a supposed WeChat conversation between the exchange student and the female student, in which the man apologizes and claims the interaction is a “requirement for friendship,” are being shared on social media.

According to various reports, the police initially tried to mediate between the two students, which the female student refused.

Together with the school principal, the police then further investigated the case and found ample evidence of harassment after examining the university’s surveillance system.

On August 1st, the Hebei University of Engineering announced that they had expelled the student and that he will be deported from China. The announcement received more than 14,000 reactions and 150,000 ‘likes’ on Weibo.

The student is now detained at the local Public Security Bureau and is awaiting his deportation.

A photo of two officers together with a man in front of the detention center in Handan is circulating on social media in relation to this incident.

At time of writing, the hashtag page “Exchange Student to Be Deported after Molesting Female Student” (#留学生猥亵女学生将被遣送出境#) has been viewed over 310 million times on Weibo.

Among thousands of reactions, there are many who praise the Hebei university for supporting the female student after she reported the exchange student to the police.

“This may not be the best university, but at least they stand behind their students!”, some say, with others calling the university “awesome.”

Many say that the Hebei university should serve as an example for other Chinese universities to follow, with Shandong University being specifically mentioned by Weibo users.

Shandong University was widely criticized earlier this summer for its “buddy exchange program,” which was accused of being a way to arrange Chinese “girlfriends” for male foreign students.

Another incident that is mentioned in relation to this trending story is that of an exchange student who displayed aggressive behavior towards a Chinese police officer in July of this year. The student was not punished for his actions, which sparked anger on Chinese social media.

By Manya Koetse

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Local News

Holiday Homework: Take a Picture with Five Foreigners

Is “take a photo with a foreigner” an appropriate homework assignment? This Zhuhai school teacher thinks it is.

Manya Koetse

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Photo via yidianzixun.com

An elementary school in Guangdong’s Zhuhai city has become a target of online banter this week for a special holiday homework assignment given to its pupils.

The school’s English teacher told students to take a picture with five foreigners this holiday. The pupils’ parents were not too happy with this ‘homework’ and questioned its purpose and validity.

In the eyes of many netizens, the assignment is inappropriate as it supposedly teaches pupils to look up to (or ‘worship’) foreigners.

Others think the assignment is simply not practical, saying that Zhuhai does not have that many foreigners walking around and that not all foreigners speak English.

With over 110 million views on the hashtag “Holiday Homework to Take Photo with Five Foreigners” (#暑假作业与五个外国人合影#), the topic has blown up on Weibo.

“Just take a photo with the neighbor and tell them they’re from Singapore,” some people suggested: “Take some photos with Chinese people and say they were from South Korea!”

In an online poll about the issue, initiated by China Daily, nearly 65% of respondents said they did not agree with the assignment.

The school principal responded to the controversy, saying that the assignment was an “optional” one.

The class head also stated that the assignment was not obligatory, but that it was merely meant as an “encouragement” so that students could practice their conversational English by having a short conversation with a foreigner.

Many commenters side with school and condemn all the criticism and banter: “Of course an English teacher would want to tell its pupils to interact with foreigners in English!”

Another person mentions that many Chinese students have high grades in their English exams without actually being able to hold a conversation in English: “Our English education is not focused enough on speaking English.”

“This teaches students to take the initiative to start a conversation in English, what’s not good about it? You’re all too sensitive!”

By Manya Koetse , with contributions from Miranda Barnes

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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