Portrait of a post-95: an enterprising tech 'geek'

Updated: 2015-04-08 07:09

By Ma Danning(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Asked why, unlike many other excellent science students, he decided to head to the US instead of aiming for Peking University or Tsinghua University in Beijing, Shang explains that he was inspired by a trip to Santa Monica High School where he carried out ocean engineering and environment analysis experiments.

He was also attracted by the academic culture in the US, which he described as "free and open", citing the funny pranks played by students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology students on one another.

"My family may scrimp on many things but we'll shoulder the $55,000 (RMB340,800) annual tuition," said Shang. "Almost one tenth of students in my high school, High School Affiliated to Beijing Normal University, went to foreign universities," he said.

According to a 2013 report from the US-based Institute of International Education, China continued to send more students to universities and colleges in the United States than any other nation. The number of Chinese students enrolled in US establishments of higher education in the 2012/13 academic year increased by a hefty 21.4 percent annually to more than 235,000.

Although he keeps busy and is doing excellently compared with his peers, his mother still believes there's one thing he can work on: pushing himself harder in his studies.

"When he was little, he won second prize in a national Olympic math competition. He came home happily to tell us the news, but his father and I scolded him. Why can't you win the first prize? Who cares about those who come second?" said his mother.

Shang is not too flustered about his mother's fixation on grades and competitions. "Grades are important in that they work like stepping stones to take me to a better university or company. But after that, grades don't count," he says.

Sitting beside him, his mother squints at him, frowning a little, but shortly after the lady who has always been understanding and supportive of her son smiled in a helpless, humorous way.

Asked if he is an ambitious person, Shang said no. "A Chinese saying goes, 'take one step, and look around before taking another'." So far, his strategy seems to be working.

Portrait of a post-95: an enterprising tech 'geek'


Six Episode Documentary Series: China Youth

China has a generation of approximately 240 million people born between 1980 and 1990. In the next 20 years, China will see this generation rising, bringing hopes and problems.

Portrait of a post-95: an enterprising tech 'geek'

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