I proudly present you here a series of profile stories written by my students — sophomores and juniors learning journalism at Shantou Univeristy, China.
You will find the series rich and lively, ranging from profiles of an artist, a dentist, a tailor, a cleaner, to a stone sculptor, a restaurant owner, and a pig raiser, as well as people whose life usually remains unknown to the public in China, such as a lesbian and a leprosy patient.
They are all making a living around the city of Shantou, whose history was full of glories and glaring defeats in the past century. The stories captured life in Shantou vividly, the struggles people are undergoing, the dreams they are pursuing, and the suffering they are enduring. Putting together their unique life stories, you will gain some understanding of what life is like for different groups of people in Shantou, against the backdrop of a rapidly changing China.
(Me and my students at a hill near the campus of Shantou University)
The stories are in no way impeccable. The authors are mostly at the age of 20, just beginning to discover the world independently, after being overly sheltered at home or school in their teenage years. They were learning the basics of journalism — how to look for the hidden stories, to recognize their connections with the bigger world, and to put down clearly and truthfully what they have discovered. And, to make their works understandable to a global audience, they were instructed to write in English, instead of their native Chinese.
I gave the students increasing challenges in my Basic News Reporting and Writing class, asking them to first write about themselves, specifically, what they believed in, and then to write a profile story on a classmate, a news story on campus, and then to write news stories on things they were unfamiliar with, and eventually to write a profile story on a person whose way of life was totally different from their own. Thus besides acquiring solid knowledge and skills of a profession, they were also stimulated to obtain insights about the world, and themselves.
I was often delighted and sometimes awed by their work, by their sharp observations, by the variety and originality of the topics they chose, and by their fast grasping of journalism principles and customs. I also learned through the stories a lot about Shantou, a land of unique culture and history where I started my teaching career half a year ago.
Please start reading the series by clicking this link (http://media.stu.edu.cn/lifeinshantou), and exploring life in Shantou. And please applaud with me the authors for their brilliant work .