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American college students, who enjoy all the freedoms and possibilities provided by university life, may well wonder how students in China fare. This is a frank account of what it is like to be a college student in China, filmed by a French director who was allowed to shoot for one year at Nanjing Normal University, a large university of 40,000 students.
On the surface, life is quite different there. Soon after a student settles in, a uniformed Communist party member enters the dorm and instructs to the smallest detail just how one's personal objects are to be placed, from how shoes are to lined up, to where toothbrushes are stored. The first few months are given over to marching in formation, indoctrination into party history, and learning to chant military slogans. We see a party secretary lecture a class on the superiority of Chinese students who have "a soul," "a beautiful spirit," and a "political conscience," which he says Westerners lack.
The students strive to conform-we even hear of a suicide attempts when one girl gets a low grade in an exam on Communist Party politics. But behind the closed doors of their dorms, these 20-year-olds talk about boyfriends, cinema, politics and their futures just like their Western counterparts.
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