Ambition, boredom push 17-year-old to city

Updated: 2016-03-02 08:18

By Zhu Lixin in Hefei(China Daily)

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Though it may seem too early for a girl to earn a living for her family, Li Shuya has never regretted her decision to become a second-generation migrant worker at the age of 17.

Li was a junior student at a rural high school last year when she made a decision to drop out of school and seek a job in Hefei, Anhui province.

"I thought to earn money for my own use must be very cool," said Li, who is from Hefei's agriculture-dominated Changfeng county.

While her parents and relatives tried to persuade her to go back to school, they were unsuccessful.

"I just didn't want to waste one more year in school," Li said. She was sure she wouldn't be able to pass the college entrance exams anyway.

She followed the same path that was chosen by about one-fourth of her classmates: drop out of school and migrate to find work.

Ambition, boredom push 17-year-old to city

For Li, it was better than working 12-hour days in a refrigerator manufacturing plant. She tried a job there, but it lost its appeal quickly. Working the long hours just didn't seem to fit. Filling refrigerators with cold-producing medium seemed interesting in the beginning, but weeks later Li's curiosity had vanished.

"It was the 3,000 yuan ($458) of monthly salary that attracted me," said Li, who later found the income was not so enticing.

Shuttling back and forth between the company dormitory, canteen and refrigerator assembly line every day, Li said life in the plant resembled her previous experiences in school to a certain extent: "both boring and tiring".

She worked six days a week and lived in the dorm, a six-person room provided free by the company. During her only day off in the week, she would usually sleep half the day away and then go for some entertainment with her roommates.

"We go shopping, have a meal at a restaurant and then go to karaoke sometimes," she said.

Li doesn't like to be called a migrant worker.

"Migrant worker refers to the workers wearing safety helmets and working on construction sites," she said.

Li quit her job at the plant and went to Guangzhou, Guangdong province, to learn how to make cake and bread, together with her uncle in February.

The training course lasts for one month, after which Li will go to Wuhu, Anhui province to work for her uncle, who promised to pay her at least 3,000 yuan.

"Working in such a shop must be easier and more fun, but more importantly, I can open a shop of my own in the future," Li said.

Though she has never thought about how much money would be required to run a shop of her own, she is confident and full of ambition.

"I will have the money," she said.

(China Daily 03/02/2016 page5)