Posts Tagged ‘we are the… of communism’

School Shutdowns Take Aim at China’s Migrant Worker Children

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

Shut out of school, migrant children study on the street in Cui Zi'en's "We Are the... of Communism"

Recently, both The New York Times and The Economist reported on the sudden closing down of dozens of unlicensed schools for migrant children on safety grounds in Beijing. This round of forced closures has been the largest in scale since a similar campaign to demolish migrants’ schools in Beijing in 2006, which was regarded and criticized for making way for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. How do such government ordinances affect the teachers and children whose work and education face abrupt termination? Cui Zi’en‘s documentary We are the . . . of Communism (2006), which follows a group of pupils and their teachers from Yuanhai Elementary School of Beijing in the aftermath of its shutdown, offers some clues to begin thinking about this matter.

(2006), which follows a group of pupils and their teachers from Yuanhai Elementary School of Beijing in the aftermath of its shutdown, offers some clues to begin thinking about this matter.
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Ai Weiwei on Beijing, a “Nightmare” of a City

Friday, September 9th, 2011

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

The Olympic Stadium in Beijing, designed by Ai Weiwei in the city he now calls "a nightmare"


In his essay posted on The Daily Beast on August 28, 2010, artist Ai Weiwei rants about Beijing being a nightmarish city for anyone to live in. He says that the rapid economic progress of China has ironically made its capital unrecognizable and its people identity-less, and the country’s political rigidity has only worsened these problems.

In a depressing overview of the people living in Beijing, Ai sorts them into one of the two categories. One, he says, are the money-grabbers and power-worshippers who are distressingly predictable. “You don’t want to look at a person walking past because you know exactly what’s on his mind.” Frustrated, he goes on. “No curiosity. And no one will even argue with you.” The other category, which refers to the mass middle to low wage earners in the city, sounds just as pitiful. “I see people on public buses, and I see their eyes, and I see they hold no hope,” Ai observes.
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The Other Side of the Chinese Student Success Story: We Are the… of Communism

Monday, December 20th, 2010

We Are the... of Communism (dir. Cui Zi'en)

By Ariella Tai

Earlier this month a study conducted by the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, showed Shanghai students placing first in the world, far outscoring the United States. The New York Times article reporting on these “surprising” test scores posits that a stronger “culture of education” is responsible for the stellar performance of Shanghai 15 year-olds, as well as raising anxieties that students in the United States are lagging academically. Collective investment in China’s reputation as reflected by the test scores, as well as an “amazingly strong” work ethic are also attributed to the high scores. Mark Schneider, commissioner of the Department of Education under the Bush Administration, suggests that the government may be allowing especially talented high school students to study in Shanghai instead of their home provinces in order to boost city performance on such exams.

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