I met Mr. Zhang on the streets of Lijiang City and we had a great conversation about his daughter. Here is what resonated with me and what was important to him:

“You can call me Mr. Zhang and my daughter Little Zhang. I work at a souvenir store in Lijiang Old Town. I don’t make a lot of money, but I hope that my daughter can go to a good school and think for herself. It’s hard to care for her and also run my store. I do it all for her future.”

PC: Erika Kessler


“All three of my children are working in the city. My daughter is a pharmacist and my sons are long-distance transporters.”
“Do you think they’ll ever come back to the countryside?”
“Once my daughter gets married, she’ll have a new family with her own life. As for my sons, yes–they’re my sons! They are expected to live back here.”- 辛开熬 (Xin Kai’ao), 59

Tengchong, Yunnan


“If I could choose another occupation, I would be a doctor. China just has too many people, so it is difficult to get good medical care in a timely manner. Since everything relies on connections here, as a doctor, I would be able to get the best health services for my family– from medical priority to even the most comfortable hospital bed.”

– 李老师 (Teacher Li)



For the past month, a fair outside the middle school gave away bottles of red wine, baijiu (100 proof), and packs of cigarettes as prizes. It only took a few minutes until I ran into James, one of my 7th grade students, who uncapped his prize of red wine and began to take a long swig of victory. These negative influences can begin to steer students away from studying, and instead, toward earning quick money to live ‘extravagant’ lives of smoking, drinking, and riding a motorcycle. Later, he acknowledged that alcohol makes you “sick and dizzy,” but it looked fun and he wanted to try it.

Baoshan, Yunnan

PC: Rachael Burton (missbteachingforchina.wordpress.com)