In 2006 in Jianning County of Fujian Province, a high school student named Xiaoye (a pseudonym) was admitted to Zhejiang University, one of China’s most prestigious and selective schools of higher education. The young man’s parents were very proud when they got the news, but in his second year of college during the second-semester holiday break, Xiaoye suddenly went missing.
After 10 years of wandering the streets, Xiaoye was recently reunited with his parents. The elderly couple was overjoyed to see their son again.
A high achiever
Xiaoye’s mother said that her son was a high achiever in the gaokao (China’s grueling college entrance exam) and was admitted to Zhejiang University in Hangzhou to study physics. In his second year of college during the second-semester break, Xiaoye was supposed to travel back to his hometown to see his parents. Instead, he called to inform them that he was unable to obtain a ticket to return home. The next day, he disappeared.
His parents felt something was not right and hired a car to Hanghzou. They searched for him unsuccessfully for a month. The only information they could get from the university was that all the students had left for home.
Where had Xiaoye been for the past 10 years? During the first seven years, he was a scavenger living on the street in the vicinity of Hangzhou Railway Station, making a living recycling waste. During the G20 summit held in Hangzhou during September 2016, Xiaoyu went back to his hometown in Jianning, and for more than two years, he lived on the street in the vicinity of the Sanming bus station.
Xiaoye gave up his studies and chose to wander as a homeless person because of his poor test results from the second year examination. He failed a number of subjects and dared not face his parents.
A common tragedy
Xiaoye’s story is a common tragedy in China, but there are stories with even sadder endings reported every year without fail.
On the first day of the nationwide college entrance exam on June 7, 2016, a 22-year-old man from Chaoyang in Liaoning Province committed suicide by jumping off a building. He was reported to be a “repeat student” who had returned to high school hoping to do better on the gaokao. His parents blamed his suicide on the pressure and stress that he had undergone on the eve of the exam.
One high school student recently posted on the web:
“I failed the exam. Those who did not understand shot their eyes at me and bombarded me with ridicule. More frightening was my parent’s treatment of me when they found out. They looked dejected and the relationship between us became cold.”
Translated by Chua BC