Friday, April 18, 2014

Non-Voluntary Volunteer Work at a University in Zhanjiang

On a large grassy area between several classroom and dormitory buildings at Zhanjiang Normal University, one group of students happily posed for a photo:

Part of their happiness may have been due to me offering them an excuse to take a break from their "volunteer" work of cleaning the area. The quotes are used because "volunteer" was their initial word for it, and they later explained that the work was a university requirement for freshman students. At other universities in China, I have seen freshman students engaged in similar required activities. It is supposed to be more about instilling certain values than providing the university free labor.

One of the students emphatically explained that she "really, really, really" didn't want to be doing the work. I can't say I was surprised, since I had earlier observed that few of them seemed very engaged in cleaning and several of them simply stood in the middle of the grass holding still brooms while engaged in other activities, usually involving a mobile phone. In the next post, I will share what I saw on one student's mobile phone. It ties back to an earlier post about Zhanjiang and suggests what she and probably some others would rather have been doing than sweeping the grass.

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